Professional academics have to wear too many hats: that of grant writer, teacher, mentor, university faculty, and friend and family member. Across these ongoing roles, academics often expend the energy they might use to share their work with the wider world of policy makers and other audiences. Academics may cherish their role as carriers of the “torch of Knowledge,” but they too often pass the torch only amongst themselves via the traditional, cloistered, academic publishing apparatus. That is now coming into increasing tension with a world of media, communication and marketing that has been undergoing a revolution. There is an increasing range of communication channels that are hungry for “content.” Media outlets require journalists to source ever-greater amounts of original, valuable content to interest, entertain, and inform their audiences. These audiences are demonstrating measurable interest in news from the realms of research, originating in science communication media and events. Hence, we have an unmet need for content and a surplus of cloistered, underutilized, new scientific knowledge. Can policies that promote Open Access, and the necessary accompanying advances in the virtual infrastructure, bridge the gap between academic progress and an unprecedented need for original media content? While technical and organizational aspects of Open Access are being addressed on a policy level, the cultural and societal context of this movement appears to have been neglected. For example: How do scientists, working in a competitive system, feel about sharing their research data? How will public debates about issues, such as climate change, energy and genetic modification, be affected Open Access? Could Open Access lead eventually to a more open, more democratic and more interactive scientific system? This panel session explores barriers and drivers for Open Access from an anthropological, historical, sociological and science communication perspective.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Can open access free academics from the ivory tower?

Fred Balvert   Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Netherlands

Bruce Lewenstein   Cornell University, United States

Jacque Sarphatie Trama   Sarphatie Education Inc., United States

Peter van der Spek   Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Netherlands

William Douglas Rifkin   University of Queensland, Australia

Professional academics have to wear too many hats: that of grant writer, teacher, mentor, university faculty, and friend and family member. Across these ongoing roles, academics often expend the energy they might use to share their work with the wider world of policy makers and other audiences. Academics may cherish their role as carriers of the “torch of Knowledge,” but they too often pass the torch only amongst themselves via the traditional, cloistered, academic publishing apparatus. That is now coming into increasing tension with a world of media, communication and marketing that has been undergoing a revolution. There is an increasing range of communication channels that are hungry for “content.” Media outlets require journalists to source ever-greater amounts of original, valuable content to interest, entertain, and inform their audiences. These audiences are demonstrating measurable interest in news from the realms of research, originating in science communication media and events. Hence, we have an unmet need for content and a surplus of cloistered, underutilized, new scientific knowledge. Can policies that promote Open Access, and the necessary accompanying advances in the virtual infrastructure, bridge the gap between academic progress and an unprecedented need for original media content? While technical and organizational aspects of Open Access are being addressed on a policy level, the cultural and societal context of this movement appears to have been neglected. For example: How do scientists, working in a competitive system, feel about sharing their research data? How will public debates about issues, such as climate change, energy and genetic modification, be affected Open Access? Could Open Access lead eventually to a more open, more democratic and more interactive scientific system? This panel session explores barriers and drivers for Open Access from an anthropological, historical, sociological and science communication perspective.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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