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Open Access to Research Vital to Local Nonprofits

Not long ago, Joseph Winberry, a program manager in charge of the elder abuse program at the Office on Aging, participated in a literature search workshop at UT’s Hodges Library. The UT Libraries offers these free workshops to help nonprofit organizations gain short-term access to academic research.

Winberry believes public, open access to peer-reviewed literature is vital to his organization’s effectiveness. But because most academic research is hidden behind a paywall, many small nonprofits cannot access the peer-reviewed journal articles that can help them make evidence-based decisions about programs for their clients.

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Knox County’s Office on Aging helps older adults in our area with everything from transportation to companionship to mobile meals. The local community sees the Office on Aging as experts on many issues relating to senior citizens. So, Winberry says, “it’s really important for all of our program managers to have an understanding of what’s out there and what is the cutting edge of information.”

Winberry’s story reminds us that the audience for academic research is not just other academics. Nonprofit organizations and ordinary citizens want and benefit from access to research and scholarship that originates at public land-grant institutions such as our university.

“This research connects to people in need,” Winberry said. “I hope that professors will consider that as they decide how to publish their research.”

The UT Libraries supports public, open access to information — free, online access to the results of scholarly research — and encourages UT faculty to make their work publicly accessible. There are two ways to do this: publishing openly or archiving openly. The Scholars’ Collaborative in the Libraries supports both open access publishing and open archiving of publications, first, through partnering in UT’s Open Publishing Support Fund to cover researchers’ open access charges and, second, through UT’s open archiving service, Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange (TRACE).

This month, the Libraries will share more information about open archiving in TRACE as part of Open Access Week efforts from October 22-28.

For more information about open access, contact Rachel Caldwell, Scholarly Communication & Publishing Librarian (rachelcaldwell@nullutk.edu, 865-974-6107).

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