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avatar for Ahmed Ogunlaja

Ahmed Ogunlaja

EpidAlert Informative Initiative
I started Open Access Nigeria as a medical student in 2013, just after being selected as a participant at the Berlin 11 Satellite Conference for Students & Early Career Researchers. I had conceived it as a vehicle to deliver on my application promises, a community of Open Access enthusiasts who would educate and advocate until Open Access became a new norm in scholarly publishing in Nigeria.

This organization has since evolved and is continuing to evolve. We now have teams in 20 university campuses in Nigeria. We meet with academics, researchers, university administrators, faculty members, librarians as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students, to promote Open Access.

We organize presentations, conduct workshops and form partnerships. We also make great use of social media - mostly twitter and facebook - and we have a whatsapp group for Campus Coordinators.

Our organization draws great inspiration from the Right to Research Coalition, a US-based organization that was “founded in 2009 to promote an open scholarly publishing system based on the belief that no student should be denied access to the articles they need because their institution cannot afford the often high cost of access.” We know that access to research is necessary for a complete education, paywalls stifle innovation and open access accelerates discovery.

We are organizing a series of events to mark the International Open Access Week in October. We are doing this in collaboration with the Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA), with whom we have a strategic partnership. We will be holding a major event at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL) and smaller events in 19 other campuses.

We are delighted to be part of this generation – Generation Open. Whoever conceived the idea of involving students and early career researchers in open access advocacy is a genius! Students can give such great fillip to open access advocacy with their boundless energy and relentless spirit, their tendency to question the status quo and their lack of regard for the inertia of tradition.

The current system of scholarly publishing is untenable as Open Access wins all the arguments all of the time.

So I would like you to talk to me about strategies for establishing open access as the default mode of scholarly publishing everywhere. Does your institution have an open access policy? How did you build sufficient support to make it happen? Does your country have an open access policy? What does it say? I hear they now have one in Argentina. I know the WHO has one too. And the USA. So why haven’t others adopted open access policies? What are the barriers? How can we break them? What can individual researchers do?

I would also like you to talk to me about Open Education. And Open Data. It does appear that they are all related. The world could use some more openness right now.

And because many of the volunteers in our organization are students and early career researchers, I would like you to talk to me about opportunities for them to publish their research, opportunities for them to present their abstracts, as well as opportunities for them to advance their careers. Do you know of any grants, scholarships and fellowships from which they could benefit? Sharing these would help a great deal.

I am looking forward to OpenCon 2014. I know we will change the world. And I know we will have fun while we are at it.

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