Open academia

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Abstract[edit | edit source]

Open academia refers to scholarly work (research, education, and service) conducted in the spirit of free culture and following ethical principles characterised by valuing openness, freedom, and transparency. This requires use of open processes including open access, formats, licenses, and governance.

Two underlying principles of open academia are:

  1. Open by default (e.g., (fully) openly licensed - use CC-0 or CC-BY-A or CC-BY-SA; avoid CC-by-NC and all rights reserved)
  2. Everything should be maximally re-usable (e.g., use openly editable formats)

Rationale[edit | edit source]

Intellectual property laws allocate ownership to the creator(s) who may determine the terms of use. If no terms of use are indicated by the copyright owner, then the default copyright license is all rights reserved. As a result, much intellectual property is restricted in availability and usability. It is a key responsibility of the public sector, including government and cultural institutions such as universities to foster the development and availability of "public information for the common good", that is the "knowledge commons".

Attitudes towards intellectual property are often not unlike attitudes towards:

  1. body organs
  2. property and possessions

i.e., If you give them away, you probably have less to live with

However, intellectual property is an entirely different beast and is more like:

  1. love

i.e., the more you give, the more that tends to get returned - a positive feedback loop - knowledge grows when shared

Academic pursuit is about standing on the shoulders of giants and allowing others to stand on your shoulders. When knowledge is openly licensed, our shoulders are higher and stronger.

Values[edit | edit source]

Key values underlying the practice of open academia including freedom, transparency, accessibility and re-usability.

Value Description
Freedom Freedom to use, change, develop materials without restriction
Transparency Processes are open to review to help ensure quality and integrity in the public interest
Accessibility Activities are available and accessible to people with economic or cultural prejudice or discrimination
Re-usability Materials are maximally flexible and re-usable; re-usable utility is key to the value of processes, activities, and outputs.

Processes[edit | edit source]

Open academia utilises these processes:

Processes Description
Open access Materials are open and accessible to the public with no to minimal barrier.
Open formats Materials are available as digital files which use open standards.
Open licensing Materials are freely re-usable, e.g., use Creative Commons licensing
Free software Materials are developed using software with freely available code. What is free sofware?
Open management /

Open governance

Scholarly activities are governed openly and transparently.

Activities[edit | edit source]

The processes enable the three main functions or activities of open academics and open academic institutions such as universities: research, teaching and service.

Activity Description
Open research Research plans, proposals, methods, data, results, reports, and publications etc. are open and are readily and easily available for public benefit.
Open education /
Open teaching
Academic knowledge, skills and materials are openly shared and learning experiences are openly facilitated.
Open service The university community openly connects with broader society in such a way as to maximise the public benefit that may arise from its knowledge and capacity.

Examples[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Neill, J. T. (2010). Open academia: A philosophy of open practice. Presentation to the Intellectual Property Mini-conference, 11 June, University of Canberra, Australia.

External links[edit | edit source]