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International Open Access Week (October 24-30) is a time to advocate for openness as the default for research and to ensure that equity is at the center of this work. This year’s theme is “Open for Climate Justice” and seeks to raise awareness around how open enables climate justice.

Climate Justice is an explicit acknowledgement that the climate crisis has far-reaching effects, and that the impacts will “not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, and older and younger generations” (United Nations). These power imbalances also affect communities’ abilities to produce, disseminate, and use knowledge around the climate crisis. Openness can create pathways to more equitable knowledge sharing and serve as a means to address the inequities that shape the impacts of climate change and our response to them.

Tackling the climate crisis requires the rapid exchange of knowledge across geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries. And yet open access journals with article processing charges (APCs) pose a huge economic barrier to publication to researchers from the global south. This biases climate research towards the interests of male authors from the global north and creates lacunae in the research of the needs of the people most vulnerable to climate change, particularly women and communities in the global south. Open Access Week is therefore an opportunity to continue to advocate for alternative models of open access publication, such as the ‘diamond model’ used by the University of Westminster Press, which charges neither authors nor readers.

At the same time, the growth of open research and digital scholarship practices raises a host of sustainability issues that need to be urgently addressed. Concerns are frequently raised about the environmental sustainability of the cloud for the long-term preservation of data at a time when big data centres are already having a noticable impact on the environment: the high water usage of cooling systems in big data centres in California, for example, is exacerbating drought conditions. The Digital Humanities Climate Coalition is just one initiative producing guidance on minimising the environmental impact of research, throughout the research lifecycle. Their Researcher Guide to Writing a Climate Justice Oriented Data Management Plan helps researchers think through the climate-related implications of decisions about research data management and project planning, and includes an annotated Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, UKRI) Data Management Plan.

To mark Open Access Week 2022, the Open Research team will be publishing blog posts every day this week on open access and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, becoming an open researcher, and open access and practice research. We’ll also have a guest blog post on the challenges and opportunities for maintaining the open research momentum as an early career researcher.

Join in on twitter using the official hashtag for the week: #OAWeek

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