Open Access and Societal Impact: Forging pathways toward fairer knowledge dissemination

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Mon Oct 23 2023

Author: Guest contributor

Each year, Open Access Week is celebrated with the aim of igniting a worldwide push for the open sharing of knowledge as a means to address pressing societal challenges that impact individuals across the globe. To commemorate this event which happens annually in the last full week of October, we spoke with Dr. Antoni Perez-Navarro from Spain, to find out more about his work and why he feels open access is so vital in forging pathways toward fairer knowledge dissemination and addressing the inequities that shape societies.

1. What is the focus of your research work?

I earned my Ph.D. in Physics from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) in 2000. During that period, I was engaged in Physics, in the fundamental theory of superconductivity.

Nowadays, I have three main lines of research:

  • Indoor positioning: in this topic my work focuses on dedicated infrastructure-free positioning, like WiFi fingerprinting or using magnetic field, and lately on the evaluation of error in the position of a single point. I also worked on the effects of human absorption in positioning. Regarding this topic I am one of the organisers of the Symposium “Challenges of Fingerprinting in Indoor Positioning and Navigation” that was held in Barcelona in 2015. I am also part of the Technical Program Committee of the congress “Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation, IPIN”, chair of IPIN2021 and a member of the Steering Committee of IPIN.
  • eHealth: Regarding eHealth, my main work focuses on the prevention of diseases via smartphones. Nowadays, I am participating in a project to learn how to evaluate the quality of apps for eHealth.
  • eLearning of sciences: Regarding eLearning, I have been working mainly in mathematical notation in Physics and Mathematics in online environments; and the introduction of video as a learning tool in the virtual classroom, which received the Best Innovation Project Award at UOC in 2010 with the project Present@. 

2. When you were evaluating the different publishing models, what made you choose OA?

OA is the first option because it allows everybody to access the paper, regardless of their economic possibilities, or the economic possibilities of their institutions. It is very disappointing when you see a paper published and try to read it and discover that you have no access. There are ways to get it, for example by contacting the author to get a pre-print. However, the more steps you need to do to get a paper, the more likely you won’t read it. On the other hand, OA publishing significantly increases impact and citation. My most cited papers are all published OA. 

Lastly, it's worth emphasising that at my institution, we are strongly encouraged to publish our work OA.

3. What were the steps you took once deciding to publish OA?

The initial consideration is to assess my available budget to cover the costs associated with OA publication fees. These fees can often be quite high, making it a challenge at times. However, it's worth noting that many funders and institutions have recognized this financial barrier and have established OA agreements with Springer Nature to support affiliated researchers by covering the expenses related to OA publishing.

4. Tell us about your experience publishing under the CRUE-CSIC OA agreement with Springer Nature. How were you made aware of that option?

It is a very good option. I was aware of that because my university let us know. The process is quite automatic.

5. If you have published OA before, how is your experience different now that you published via the CRUE-CSIC OA agreement? Has the open access agreement you’ve published under offered you any advantages you may have not experienced before?

Publishing via the CRUE-CSIC OA agreement is my first option now. In fact, I look for journals that are included in the agreement. The agreement not only covers my OA publication fees, but also saves time because the process is quite straightforward.

6. Do you see any benefits of publishing SDG related research via OA?

OA helps with SDG10: Reduced Inequalities by reducing inequalities among countries and institutions since research is equally available to all, regardless of their origin. 

7. How do you think open access publishing can contribute to SDG4: Quality Education and what results have you seen for your published work?

OA publishing has the potential to play a pivotal role in advancing SDG4: Quality Education by democratising access to knowledge, fostering collaboration, and driving innovation in education. In my own experience, I've observed that making my work open access has led to greater engagement and collaboration. 

8. How would you define societal impact when it comes to research?

I view societal impact as the broadening of our comprehension of the world we live in and the dissemination of this knowledge throughout society.

9. What support do you feel is needed for researchers to maximize the societal impact of their work and what role does OA play in that?

Researchers need stable careers instead of looking for new jobs every 2 or 3 years. Uncertainty makes that many researchers cannot think of societal impact. 

On the other hand, they also need to know how to communicate with the public in general to disseminate knowledge. They need support to talk with journalists, who are frequently the ones that connect researchers with the public.

OA can help to share with society the true results. Many times, when reading news about science in a newspaper, the reference to the original research is missed or unavailable for most people. If the publication is OA, everybody can check if the information is accurate. It is true that many papers can be only understood by experts in the topic, but many are not, and, on the other hand, among the public there are people that are close to the topic and able to understand most of the paper. They deserve the opportunity to read research.

10. What would your advice be to others thinking of publishing open access, especially when their research is relevant to the SDGs? 

All the researchers that I know want to publish their work OA, but they find it expensive and unaffordable in some cases. On the other hand, many OA journals are being considered as predatory and that affects the professional career of researchers. 

Therefore, I personally don’t think that researchers are the ones that need advice, but the institutions, governments, and publishers to find a model that allows everybody who wants to publish OA, to be able to do it. The CRUE-CSIC OA agreement is a good example. 

Find out if you’re eligible to publish under Springer Nature’s open access agreements. You can read more about how we’re advancing open access publishing here.

To access the most up-to-date information on SDG 4: Quality Education, visit Springer Nature's hub for SDG 4, part of the SDG Programme.

P_Dr. Antoni blog image © Springer Nature 2023
About the author

Dr. Antoni Perez-Navarro, PhD
Aggregate professor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Dr. Antoni Perez-Navarro is a seasoned educator at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and Escola Universitària Salesiana de Sarrià with a proven track record in the e-learning sector. He specializes in teaching Physics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and possesses expertise in TIC, Moodle, and Computer Science. With a Doctorate in Physics from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, he is a dedicated professional with a keen interest in research areas such as indoor positioning and the utilization of GIS, particularly in the field of e-health.


Author: Guest contributor

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