On Monday, the Open Access Button was launched at the Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference. The Open Access Button is a new browser plugin that allows users to report when they hit a paywall and cannot access a research article. After a user reports not being able to access research, the Open Access Button records the user’s location, their profession, and why they were looking for the research. The software then integrates this information onto a map to create a real time, worldwide, interactive picture of the access problem.
Three days after the launch, the Open Access Button has approximately 1,900 users and has mapped 873 paywalls.
One of the most remarkable facts about the button was that it was created by two students, David Carroll and Joseph McArthur. Carroll, who studies medicine at Queens University Belfast, said the following:
“I realized there was a problem when, time after time, I ran into barriers accessing articles relevant to my research. My university is able to afford subscriptions to many journals, and yet I still can’t access everything I need. It made me wonder how many others have had the same experience, and how it is impacting people across the globe.”
The frustration inspired a great idea, and after teaming up with the Right to Research Coalition and a team of volunteer developers, the Open Access Button was born. In the spirit of openness, Open Access Button is licensed under CC-BY and a MIT open source license. Additionally, the data will be open for researchers. Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), commented the followed about the button:
“It’s crucial to remember that too often, we take for granted that the status quo simply ‘is what it is,’ but the developers of the Open Access Button remind us that we, as individuals, actually have the power to change things. It’s a simple, yet incredibly creative idea, that should help show just how deep the need for Open Access truly is.”
Learn more about the button with the Open Access Button Info Sheet.
Sign up to get your own button at openaccessbutton.org.