Why your librarian is a superhero

We’ve all been there, dissertation pending, deadline approaching and coffee being demolished faster than is probably healthy. Then it happens.

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You hit a paywall — deadend.

Frustration ensues, but no time, gotta move on. But wait, did you know you probably paid for that research. Millions of pounds of taxpayers money each year goes on publicly funded research. So why can’t you access it? The answer is the broken scholarly publishing system. We’ve evolved a system where the public can find itself paying 3 times over for research — research that is inherently a public good. If you’re not familiar with this issue check out this video. Fear not though, students from across the world, with help from librarians (who are leading the charge for open access) are changing that — we spent the weekend with just a few of the best — let our video explain.


As mentioned the Right 2 Research Coalition believes that access to research is a student right. What we want is simple, an open scholarly system so that people are not denied access to research because they cannot afford the cost of access. Even Harvard University can’t afford access to journals (they had an endowment of $27.6 billion in 2010).

The meeting focused around how we can further develop as a coalition, with a healthy amount of time spent information sharing between the huge variety of organisations there. Despite soaring temperature and beautiful views of Budapest. We heard about friends in Norway’s successful RADIAD campaign, excellent advocacy at the University of California Davis and a whole host of great advocacy work in places as far apart as Nairobi and Washington D.C. There was even praise for Medsin UK working with the BMA and passing policy at the BMA Annual Representatives Meeting on open access (a great blog from which you can find here — as always Medsin’ers stand on the shoulders of giants).

This has, in large part thanks to student work meant that open access is charging forward as an issue — with progress on all fronts. As always though — there are caveats, some uncomfortably close to home. Our very own Research Councils-UK has made U-turns that once made their open access policy exemplary. They recently lengthened the amount of time it allows research to be denied to us. Yes, you read that right. Even worse, as the rest of the EU beings to start thinking about open access there is a very real fear that the UK’s policy could be used as a model and spread — meaning the rest of the EU is just as negatively affected.

Expect to hear more about this in the next few months as we begin to start thinking about how to reverse this move. We’d love to hear if you’d like to be involved.

Find out more:

Twitter: #r2rcGA



Right To Research Coalition Website

Authors @mcarthur_joe and @davidecarroll