Team Button Tuesdays: Luke and Jim

Behind the Open Access Button is a team of international student volunteers. Get to know them on Team Button Tuesdays! This week meet Luke, one of our secretaries, and Jim, one of our Communications Officers.


Luke Barnes, Secretary

Hello! I’m Luke, one of the newer additions to team button. I was brought on board in April as a Secretary and so far am really enjoying being part of the team that keeps team button organised! I’m an undergraduate molecular biologist by day, theatre nerd and worker by night, and on Thursday evenings, and Elven shamen!

I was first introduced to open access mainly accidentally by attempting to research around my studies at A-Level. Since then I have tried to use the literature as a Undergraduate Molecular Biologist, and often been shut down by paywalls. Often this is while trying to complete an assignment, but frequently it is just when I’m curious about a problem and will attempt to find out. I met the Open Access Button shortly after hitting such a paywall, when I posted a passive aggressive tweet (as seems to be the norm in such situations!). The button co-founders responded and, as a result, I’ve been using the button since it’s launch.

While my initial involvement was initially quite selfish, I’ve quickly learnt, both from being a member of the team and from friends in the wider world that closed access to research is costing immeasurable amounts of money in wasted development as well as people’s lives. I believe that science in particular can bring the best out of us as a species. Science has always been the champion of collaboration efforts to advance knowledge. The Human Genome Project, CERN, the International Space Station. All of these projects succeeded because of collaboration between experts.

My main interest is in mass public engagement in science and I’m currently working with the Cardiff School of Biosciences to this end, but public engagement is impossible with the current elitist publishing system we have. I hope that with open access we can help build a collaborative, and open world of science that is even more exciting than it is today.


Jim McGrath, Communications Officer

Hi! I’m Jim, and I’m a doctoral candidate in English at Northeastern University (in Boston, MA). I’m writing a dissertation on contemporary American poetry, and I’ve often been frustrated by barriers to access when I’m looking for research on that project. But it’s been my work in digital archives has really led me to think more about open access issues.

I’m a Project Director on Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive, a crowdsourced archive of digital materials related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. Our Marathon tries to make its work accessible to all. We believe that historical records should be readily available to everyone who is interested in them, and that making these documents public will help with the city’s healing process.

We’ve been grateful to find partners, collaborators, and institutions who share this interest, and Our Marathon will be a public record that’s available for as long as the web is in existence. But I know that not everyone is fortunate to have this kind of support. It’s great to see many of the top scholars in library sciences and the digital humanities (the fields I know the most about) champion open access issues so publicly and frequently, but not every academic field has these kinds of champions.

I first learned about the Open Access Button project on Twitter, and I was excited to join the project this spring. I’m really interested in the global fight for open access, and I was excited by the scope and ambition of The OA Button. There are many of my fellow Americans fighting for open access, but (being Americans), they don’t always fuse these efforts with what’s going on in the rest of the world. I’ve already learned a ton about what’s been going on in open access outside of my familiar academic and geographic haunts, and I hope to share my own experiences and ideas with the rest of the team and everyone who supports The OA Button.

Other fun stuff: I’m from Brooklyn (New York, not Connecticut), I’ve lived in Boston since 2003 (but I still don’t like The Red Sox, sorry guys), I love comics, I enjoy going to shows (Boston’s got a cool indie rock scene right now), and I spend way too much time on Twitter and Tumblr. You can learn more about me here or follow me on Twitter @JimMc_Grath.