On October 26, as part of the World Bank’s celebration of the 10th International Open Access week, I moderated a panel discussion on behalf of the Bank and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). Experts shared their experiences, success stories, and identified remaining challenges in advancing Open Access. External participants and Bank Group staff were invited to the event, which was also live-streamed and recorded.
In his welcome message, Denis Robitaille, Vice President and WBG Chief Information Officer, Information and Technology Solutions, indicated that “the Bank uses different policies and tools to promote Open Access,” and highlighted several initiatives, including the Open Archives and the 5th anniversary of the Open Knowledge Repository.
The discussion touched on various topics in detail, such as the inception of Open Access, academia’s role in providing up-and-coming researchers with the tools they need, and work done by the UN and the World Bank in opening their data and information to the public.
Referring to the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, Thanos Giannakopoulous, who oversees the UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld Library and its digital services, said “I’ve gone through the Sustainable Development resolution many times. It’s part of my daily life, and it should be part of all our daily lives because we can all help with the sustainable development goals. And in 8 out of 17 goals, I recognize that the need for access to information is either mentioned directly or is implied.”
The importance of training and fostering a supportive community of students and researchers was underscored by S. Elise Wang Sonne, a visiting scholar at the University of California-Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS). Elise shared her positive experience in providing training in Sub Saharan Africa, specifically in Cameroon.
This sentiment was echoed by Nick Shockey, the Director of Programs & Engagement at SPARC, who related a personal story of how he was inspired to get involved in Open Access when he was a student.
There are many benefits associated with pushing for Open Access by making data and information available to the public, but it was clear from the discussion that merely releasing data is not enough. According to Timothy Herzog, a Data Scientist who works on the World Bank’s open data initiative, “Data should be released with sufficient metadata—it could be as basic as who published what and when, but it should also include descriptions and context to understand what the data means. Both the World Bank and the Open Access community should be doing more of that.”
I wholeheartedly agree and would like to see the World Bank extend this fundamental notion of providing greater context to what we disclose through the Open Archives. Only then will we be providing researchers and the general public with the right set of keys to our "treasure trove” of information, which is central to the World Bank’s open dialogue with partners and helps build public support for our mission.
Even though OA Week is only one week of the year, we celebrate it every day as part of our mission. Learn more by reading our Open Access Week blog series; if you missed the event, you can watch the recording.