Online Program

Open access & opening science for whom?: Exploring possibilities for research use, agenda-setting & public health (Re)framing by NGOs

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Cheryl Holzmeyer, PhD, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Background: The open access movement for free-of-charge, Internet-based access to peer-reviewed academic journal articles – as an alternative to private, corporate academic publishing – comprises a range of stakeholders. While analysts have devoted considerable attention to how open access increases the availability and impact of scientists' work, relatively less attention has been directed toward the potential significance of open access to NGOs – particularly those advocating for the rights of marginalized communities. Purpose: This paper discusses research into the relevance of the National Institutes of Health's 2008 open access policy for public health NGOs, particularly those oriented toward environmental health and health inequities. Methods: Drawing on in-depth, qualitative interviews about the research practices of NGOs, as well as Web log data focusing on participants' use of PubMed, the paper analyzes the potential contributions of open access policies to the work of NGOs. Results: Findings highlight the value of open access in community-based participatory research (CBPR) collaborations between NGOs and academics, including collaborations in which NGOs advance their own research agendas. Also, given that one of the goals of the NIH's Public Access Policy is to “advance science” for health, findings indicate that NGO interpretations of that goal include overlaps and tensions with academic interpretations. Discussion: This paper argues that attending to interpretive tensions is vital if the broader “open science” movement, including open access initiatives, is to serve the interests of public health, both in the substantive dimensions of research, as well as frames of public discourse surrounding health and science. It suggests opportunities for and challenges of advancing public health frames in burgeoning conversations about information, data and research access. These challenges include not only digital divides, but avoiding the deficit model of relations between scientists and publics, and situating supposed “information poverty” problems in broader political activist contexts.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the significance of the NIH open access policy to public health stakeholders, particularly NGOs. Analyze the relevance of PubMed to public health research. Identify opportunities for and challenges of advancing public health frames in burgeoning conversations about information, data and research access.

Keyword(s): Information Technology, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am experienced in mixed-methods and qualitative sociology research, and have worked with and in the NGO sector on behalf of public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.