Coalition Looks to Rally Student Support for Open-Access Publishing

(Adapted from an article by Travis Kaya in The Chronicle of Higher Education online, posted Dec. 15, 2010).
Improving access to scholarly journals is not a typical student rallying cry, but a growing organization thinks it should be.
The Right to Research Coalition, which says it represents student groups comprising 5.5 million members in the United States and several other countries, unveiled a Web site and blog in October to educate and connect students about open-access publishing, and increase pressure on publishers and scholars to make their work freely available online.
Unlike rising textbook costs—a point of contention on college campuses—journal subscription costs often go unnoticed by students, say coalition leaders. They hope the Web site will show the impact that open-access publishing could have on students’ individual research and on scholarship around the globe, especially as cash-strapped academic libraries cut expensive journal subscriptions.
The Washington-based group—run via the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition—was founded in June 2009 after some student organizations drafted the Student Statement on the Right to Research. Though scholars and librarians have advocated for open-access publishing for a long time, students have only recently added their voices to the discussion, says Nick Shockey, leader of the new group.
Support among student organizations has been growing. Since 2009, the coalition has attracted 28 member organizations, including the American Medical Student Association, the United States Student Association, and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. “We have a great opportunity to act on the national and state level,” Mr. Shockey says. “It’s really an area where students can have an impact.”

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