Open Access beyond Academia

As International Open Access Week comes to an end, the Libraries hope that you have learned about numerous open access initiatives and will come to embrace the necessity of open access in academia.

Over the course of the week, the Libraries have detailed many aspects of open access, including the methods and benefits of using open access publishing methods, finding open access resources, and more. But you may be left wondering how open access affects you outside of higher education.

The IT industry may be one of the most common cases of open access application.Open Source software is often used to create operating systems and apps for mobile devices. The popular Android™ smartphone is a prime example of open source development. Android maintains a project called Android Open Source Project  where you can find “information and source code you need to learn more about the Android platform. From there you can create custom variants of the Android software stack, port devices and accessories to the Android platform…” The company even makes their logo freely available for users to customize.


The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Government repositories also participate in open access. Federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, Department of Education, and the National Institutes of Health, deposit information into publicly accessible repositories. In the video above, Bonnie Klein, Information Collection/Copyright Specialist at the US Defense Technical Information Center, “points to the long experience of government agencies in capturing and preserving their intellectual assets in repositories so information can be reorganized, reduced, and recombined.”

Patient Advocates can also benefit from open access to medical information. In the video below, Sharon Terry talks about how her children were diagnosed with a rare medical condition and the barriers she faced when trying to find information on the condition.  Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen also give details of a family medical emergency experience in which access to information about a critical medical treatment was hidden behind a paywall. The family needed to make a decision regarding treatment so they were forced to pay for multiple research articles. The costs added up quickly.

The examples mentioned above highlight a few ways that open access plays a role outside of education. How does open access play a role in your life?