Behind the Open Access Button is a team of international student volunteers. Get to know them on Team Button Tuesdays! This week we have David, our co-founder; and Georgina, our fundraising coordinator.
Over the last six months, I’ve been constantly amazed at the progress of the Open Access Button. Initially it was Joe and I working every moment of our spare time with a team of volunteer developers. Now, there’s a 20 strong student team and 10 professionals on our steering committee. We’re making good progress following the launch of the beta and I assure you the best is yet to come. Open access to research is important to me because I am one of the lucky ones. I am in a rich, western university that subscribes to lots of journals. I am privileged. Despite this privilege, I hit paywalls all the time. The research we all need is locked away, hidden behind an archaic scholarly publishing system that isn’t fit for purpose. The current publishing system is incompatible with the power of the Internet I’ve grown up with.
I don’t just care about myself, I care about everyone else. It’s mere chance that I was born in a (relatively) well off Western nation. What about those who aren’t lucky enough to live where I live? What about those who aren’t lucky enough to have a university library subscription? I don’t care about myself. I care about them. What about the millions of people, even in the UK that suffer from ill-health but don’t have a university subscription to read research about their own condition? In a few short years, I’ll be working as a physician and I care about patients having access to research.
More broadly speaking, access to information is a human right, information is power and I care about a world in which every single person on the planet is given access to the sum of all human knowledge.
I volunteer for the Open Access Button team because I believe in the tool as a means for change, to help drive the movement for a more open scholarly publishing system. I hope over the next year, with the launch of Button 2.0, we will help accelerate the move to a more open publishing system.
If I wrote about everything that motivates me, we would both be here for a few hours. A selection of things that motivate me is the thought of what people can do with accessible research, by the thought of a world in which people are put over profits, where people get access to the healthcare they need and where that healthcare (and policy) is based on the best available evidence. Lastly, I’m motivated by people, because people are powerful.
Georgina Taylor, Fundraising Coordinator
Living in a small part of a big country way down under, it still amazes me a little every time I get up (early) for a Button meeting that I can be a part of this team. We are a group of students based around the world, spanning from Tasmania to Northern Ireland. Even a few years ago this would not have been possible, with my first laptop which weighed a tonne and had to be physically plugged into our phoneline.
Technology enables me to be a part of this team, and the things it has made possible for me inspire me to push for more.
Like other students, I have experienced hitting paywalls throughout my studies and research. Yesterday I couldn’t access all the articles I wanted for a presentation on children’s surgical pain management. I was scared by the thought of people who really need to put that into practise not being able to reach the information.
I believe knowledge is a shared human wealth. And a human right to access it. The internet enables information to be shared globally and has made publishing affordable like never before. It is up to us to take charge of this and build a new system for a new purpose: to share.
I volunteer with the Open Access Button to be a part of this change. I am the team Funding Lead, which means I stare at many numbers and write over and over to people about the project. Funding is both exciting and scary because it’s the lifeblood to get a project off the ground. I love talking, and talking about the Button, so it’s a perfect fit.
I am constantly pushed and inspired by the people around me. We’re all on a steep learning curve and juggling our studies alongside Button work. Luckily one of us is always around the corner with a great meme or comic when things get a bit much! Being in this talented and diverse team is above all, seriously fun.