Logo for OA2020 Initiative

Public research university, publicly available research. Sounds logical, but that’s not always — or even often — the way it goes. UC Santa Barbara, and the University of California at large, aim to change that.

Affirming its belief that research generated at a public institution should indeed be available to the public at no cost — and its commitment to achieving that goal — UC Santa Barbara has now signed the OA2020 Expression of Interest. OA2020 is an international initiative that is exploring ways of advancing open access in partnership with scholars, libraries, publishers and funding agencies.

The move by the campus comes closely on the heels of the UC’s recent termination, systemwide, of its subscriptions with scientific publisher Elsevier, after protracted negotiations failed to net the university’s must-have result: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.

Reflecting the changing tide, the UC has just secured an open-access deal with Cambridge University Press, its first such agreement with a major publisher.

“We’ve been on this path a long time — UC is very committed to open access,” said UC Santa Barbara Librarian Kristin Antelman, who is closely involved in these tandem efforts to secure universal open access to university research. “It’s deeply embedded in our mission as a public institution, trying to enable the research to be available to other researchers around the world and applied to benefit society. It couldn’t be more core to our mission, and we’re at the point where the time for action has come, the time to speak with our dollars and our powerful faculty voices and the weight of the UC.”

With its Expression of Interest, UC Santa Barbara is now a signatory to OA2020, which was born of an open access conference in Budapest in 2003. To date, 136 scholarly organizations worldwide, including multiple UC campuses, have signed on.

Excerpted from an article by Shelly Leachman which appears in full in UCSB's The Current