Team Button Tuesdays: Juan and Sarah

Behind the Open Access Button is a team of international student volunteers. Get to know them on Team Button Tuesdays! This week we have Juan, one of our Secretaries; and Sarah, one of our Community and Advocacy Coordinators.

IMG_0290Juan Carlos, Secretary
Hi. My name is Juan Carlos and I’m an OAddict. I study medicine at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, in México, and my story with the Open Access Button involves love, hate and procrastination.

Open Access revolutionized my education. I loved Open Access, even before getting to know it, just by hating the “Closed Access” system. My first encounters academic publishing were on the Dark Side of the arena: Go to school, wanted to read something, Paywall; look for the references on the slides, Paywall; go to the library, Paywall; arrive home, do the homework, Paywall; undergraduate research, Paywall, Paywall, Paywall…

Hey, Paywalls, leave those kids alone!

Although I live in a developing country, where resources destined to science and education are limited, and paywalls seem to be unlimited; I (we) live in a time where information easily reaches most of the people. With the internet, frontiers between countries are erased, giving chance to a global and inclusive community to arise: the OA community. God save the Internet (and OA community).

The OA movement reached me via social media and also bits of advocacy advertisement here and there. I started to use only Open Access resources, and that’s when I found myself surrounded by information about the benefits of the openness. That was my movement, I really loved things to be open.

While procrastinating on Twitter, I saw a PLoS Student Blog called: “If someone hits a paywall in the forest, does it make a sound?: The Open Access Button“. I must confess that the title got me (I was reading some essays on perception of the reality by then). Then, I followed the @OA_Button, buttoned the Button (prototype version) a few times and applied to the call for team members (I saw it on Twitter too). The rest is histoire.

It is not the first time I advocate for something as a student, but it is the first time I fall in love with a project. Everything in it is congruent with the principles of openness and freedom, which enhances -even more- is potential to impact the academic publishing system. It is really impressive to me how much the Button has grown and how many people has reached.

I feel really glad (and challenged) to be working on such a team. The Team Button is full of student cracks from around the world, who find time off their normal labors and advocate for the openness of scholarly communication. Easy thing to say, hard thing to make happen.

If you asked me, the best is yet to come. I think that the launch of the Button 2.0 will be a great step to push for a change in the way research outputs are shared and will -continue to- demonstrate that students actions do matter.

The Button is not just for students and academics, it is for everyone who wants to read a paper and can’t because it costs. So spread the word with everyone you know that can read. May the Button be with you.

svmSarah Melton, Communication and Advocacy Coordinator
I’m a pretty new member of the Open Access Button team, but I’ve been working on issues of open access publishing and scholarly communication for the past five years. I came to OA advocacy by accident; I started working on an open access journal in the humanities (www.southernspaces.org) when I began my PhD program in 2009. As I became more and more interested in the digital humanities and digital publishing, I became aware of the global problems of access. I’m fortunate to be at a well-financed institution, but I still hit paywalls on a weekly basis. I see how many of our resources are eaten up by unsustainable publishing models, and it’s terrifying to think of how much control we scholars have given commercial publishers over our research and intellectual property.

In addition to my work on the Open Access Button, I’m interested in many different kinds of public knowledge making. In my spare time (what’s that?) I volunteer with the Digital Public Library of America as a community representative. I’ve also been playing around with developing some modules and content for Omeka, a free, open source tool for making exhibits. (It’s true, I might be a little bit of a nerd.) Like many other open access advocates, I also believe strongly in the importance of privacy. I want to help create digital public spheres that respect users’ privacy and recognize the power of the open creation and exchange of knowledge. I see open access advocacy as an important part of this work.

More and more people are becoming aware of these serious issues of access, but we still have a lot of work to do. I believe that we can build more equitable economies of knowledge and that the Open Access Button can be part of the solution. We have a ton of exciting ideas and new features in the works, and I’m thrilled to be part of this team!

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