FEATURE STORY

Redefining Impact Through Open Access

October 18, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Since the World Bank made all its published research freely available online, millions have downloaded and used content from the Open Knowledge Repository.
  • For the second year in a row, the Bank will host the kickoff event for Open Access Week, a global celebration of open access to research. The event will be webcast live on Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. ET/19:00 GMT.
  • The World Bank’s Publishing and Knowledge division is looking at ways to measure the development impact of its open access research.

In the 18 months since the World Bank announced its Open Access Policy with the launch of the Open Knowledge Repository, a transformation has taken place in the way the Bank’s published knowledge reaches the public. The frequency and volume of content being accessed doubled from one million downloads in the first year to two million in the subsequent six months. But measuring the impact goes beyond counting downloads and visits.

On Oct. 21, the World Bank and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) will co-host the kickoff event for Open Access Week 2013, a global celebration of open access to research. The event will begin with a panel discussion on “Open Access: Redefining Impact,” at the World Bank starting at 3 p.m. ET/19:00 GMT. A webcast and live blog will be available for streaming to campuses, libraries, and organizations around the world that wish to participate. A recording will be available shortly after the event.

Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, will moderate a discussion with open access leaders, including Michael Stebbins, the point person for the Obama administration’s recent mandate requiring federal agencies that spend more than $100 million to develop plans to open their publicly funded research within a year of publication. Among the topics to be discussed are article-level metrics and changing the way scholarly communication is measured.

This year, major sponsors Public Library of Science (PLOS), Google, and the Wellcome Trust and 24 additional sponsors launched a new Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP) to recognize the impact of open access research. The three ASAP winners will be announced at the kickoff event. Each will receive $30,000 for a project that has used published open access scientific research “to make a difference in science, medicine, business, technology, or society as a whole.”

Three of the six finalists submitted projects that hold great promise for the developing world:

  • An innovative method for calculating the value of ecotourism to help low- and middle-income countries develop sound conservation policies for their natural resources and endangered species;
  • An open-source, large-scale collaborative research model to help identify new anti-malaria drugs; and
  • An HIV self-test that empowers the patient by making HIV detection simple and anonymous and alleviates fears, stigma, and discrimination of HIV testing.

Open Quotes

When we opened our data, we were novices in the world of open access. Now we’ve opened our finances, projects, research, and much more. Other intergovernmental organizations are coming to us to learn from our experience. Close Quotes

Carlos Rossel
World Bank Publisher

An impressive panel of judges including Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, and Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate, co-founder of PLOS, and the current director of the National Cancer Institute, selected the award recipients.

The World Bank has taken a leadership role among intergovernmental organizations and governments considering open access policies. It is one of 31 organizations featured in the ASAP Portfolio as examples of high-impact open access organizations that contextualize, process, and extend open access information.  Last year, the World Bank was recognized as a SPARC Innovator for its open access initiatives, including opening its data and research.

“When we opened our data, we were novices in the world of open access. Now we’ve opened our finances, projects, research, and much more. Other intergovernmental organizations are coming to us to learn from our experience,” said Carlos Rossel, World Bank publisher.

This year’s Open Access Week, whose theme is “Redefining Impact,” comes at a time when the World Bank Group is examining every aspect of the institution’s work and redefining how it will measure its impact.

The World Bank’s Publishing and Knowledge division is looking at ways to measure the impact of its open access research. With World Bank publications widely disseminated through many channels, both online and in print, it is difficult to measure the full extent of their reach. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the World Bank makes its publications available under a liberal Creative Commons Attribution (CCBY) license which encourages use and reuse of its content but does not require written permission, royalties, or reporting of how it is being used.

“We’re thrilled to have already reached more than 2 million downloads from the OKR. And we know that almost 50% of the visits to the OKR are from developing countries, but new metrics need to be defined to help us determine how our research is leading to innovation and development solutions,” Rossel said.

Join the live event on Oct. 21 to participate in the discussion with the panelists and ASAP winners, or post your questions in advance. Follow the event on Twitter with hashtags #wblive and #oaweek.