Just last week, the University of Colorado-Boulder proudly announced its fifth Nobel Laureate, and the NSF awarded the university a $1.4 million grant for research in climate change. As a flagship university often at the center of local and national debate, CU is a world-class institution that aims to prepare its students and support its faculty in relevant, cutting-edge research. However, under the strain of exorbitant academic journal subscription costs, our university is at times unable to provide students and faculty with access to the research articles they need. According to acquisitions department in the University Libraries, in 2012 alone, the university spent $7.7 million on journal subscriptions, exhausting nearly 77 percent of the Libraries’ total materials budget. How is a state university like CU-Boulder supposed to provide the research resources its students need without breaking the bank?

Open Access (OA) is free, immediate, online access to research articles with full reuse rights and is an alternative to the traditional closed, subscription-access system of scholarly communication. It makes the results of scholarly research available online for free, upon publication, and removes barriers for scholarly and educational use. Setting the example for other institutions, both the United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS) and University of Colorado Student Government (CUSG) are members of Right to Research Coalition, an international coalition representing 7 million students focused on supporting Open Access to research initiatives and issues. In addition, our University Libraries are a member of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which works to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.

Under the leadership of the Libraries staff, CU is taking on the challenges surrounding access to academic journals, including exploring options of how to support faculty and graduate students who want to publish in open-access journals. Initially, this will be through a limited and self-funded OA publication fund and not from the campus budget to the Libraries. Anecdotal evidence suggests that demand for these funds will be high, and the Libraries are interested in exploring more sustainable means of funding for open access publications if there is broader support for such efforts across campus. The Libraries, in collaboration with a number of other Colorado institutions of higher education, have also launched a repository aimed at providing access to the scholarly output of the respective campuses involved.

Starting Monday, CU’s United Government of Graduate Students, in collaboration with the University Libraries, will be hosting CU’s first-ever campus events for International Open Access Week. In its sixth year, Open Access Week encourages research and academic communities to learn about Open Access and inspire further participation in OA initiatives. As part of the focus on Open Access education, UGGS will be hosting an Open Access Week kick-off event viewing party on Monday and a panel discussion on Oct. 25, where attendees will get a glimpse of faculty, librarian, and grad student perspectives on OA initiatives on our campus and what Open Access means for our university. To learn more, visit

Rachel Powers, master’s candidate in Information and Communication Technology for Development


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