Building Structural Equity: Michigan Publishing Celebrates Open Access Week

by Briana Johnson on October 25, 2021

This is a post by University of Michigan Press Sales, Marketing, and Outreach Director, Kristen Twardowski. 

Today marks the start of this year’s Open Access Week, and we at Michigan Publishing are eager to share with you the ways that we are working to open research now and in the future.

At its core, open access (OA) is an ever-evolving approach to sharing research. It is the practice of making journal articles, books, data, and infrastructures freely available to use online. Opening this content to everyone, no matter where they are located, allows people to be part of larger, global conversations where they can share ideas, experiment, learn from each other, and ultimately create richer avenues for research. 

Michigan Publishing engages with open access from multiple perspectives. As a subgroup of the University of Michigan Library, Michigan Publishing is home to Deep Blue Repositories, the University of Michigan Press, and Michigan Publishing Services. Together, these teams explore the possibilities of openness throughout all phases of the research lifecycle.

Deep Blue Repositories works with U-M community members to ensure that their data sets are available for anyone to download without restrictions and that their documents are discoverable and, if the authors so choose, are freely and openly viewable. As a humanities and social sciences university publisher, the University of Michigan Press is committed to exploring ways to sustainably produce open access monographs through initiatives like TOME and Knowledge Unlatched as well as through our in-house Fund to Mission program, which aims to make 75% of the press’s frontlist monographs open access by 2023. Michigan Publishing Services focuses on publishing related solutions and has been integral to the development and management of Fulcrum, a community-based open source publishing platform. Fulcrum’s open source status is a vital part of the growing idea that openness should not only refer to data or publications but also to the platforms and structures that host those materials.

This year’s International Open Access Week theme, “It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural Equity,” provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the idea that simply making existing research freely available online cannot be the only goal of working towards open access. The systems we use and the processes we follow make a difference.

How do we open scholarship in a way that brings in new voices and challenges North American- and Eurocentrism? How can open access increase the diversity of authors, publishers, platforms, and research tools? How do we ensure that open materials are discoverable and maintained? How do we fund open publications in a way that not only is sustainable for one subject area but for all of them?

There are no simple answers to questions like these. These questions do, however, provide prompts for broader discussions about our approaches to opening knowledge and how we can use open access as a tool for building structural equity. To continue these conversations, Michigan Publishing is engaging in a series of open access related dialogues and activities.

OA Week Activities

Over the past month, we have released a limited podcast mini-series, Open Access: In Conversation, the latest episode of which will be released this Friday. This mini-series explores open access from different perspectives, including those of students, authors, librarians, data repository experts, and publishers, and explores the implications of open access for equity.

We are also excited to share an Impact Story from several University of Michigan Press authors about why they decided to publish open access monographs.

Fund to Mission

Our OA initiatives are not restricted to Open Access Week. Michigan Publishing is making a broader commitment to opening research.

In partnership with LYRASIS, the University of Michigan Press has begun transitioning to an open access program that we call Fund to Mission, which aims to make 75% of our frontlist Michigan Ebook Collection monographs open access by 2023. Increasing our open access publications aligns both with our core mission as well as our dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. We believe finding ways to invest together to sustainably open the humanities and social sciences is necessary to create a stronger scholarly community.

Later this week we will be launching a new website to share even more information about Fund to Mission, and we are in the process of creating an advisory group to help guide our management of the program. Sign up for our Michigan Ebook Collection Newsletter to receive updates about Fund to Mission.

We are excited to celebrate this year’s Open Access Week with you and can’t wait to see what kind of open future we build together. For more information about Michigan Publishing and open access, explore our main Open Access Week page. You can also follow us on social media to learn more and to continue these conversations.

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