During the month of Open Access week (October 22-28, 2018) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience making their work Open Access. We appreciate their contributions.
The first post is by Danielle Medgyesi, recent MS Graduate, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health
Actualizing Unrestricted Knowledge Sharing for Collaborators, Partners, Allies, and Beneficiaries, Globally: From Iowa to Switzerland to Haiti
This year’s Open Access (OA) theme (2018): “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge” is especially relevant to a project our team recently published in an OA journal. As a University of Iowa graduate student in the College of Public Health, I worked closely with Assistant Professor Kelly Baker, PhD, and her extensive international network to develop a thesis project conducted in an internally displaced persons (IDP) community in Corail, Haiti. The community was established as part of the 2010 earthquake relief effort. Reflective of IDP communities worldwide, Corail has become a permanent residence for many families. Yet, residences face unsanitary and unsafe conditions due to a lack of permanent sanitation infrastructure and access to waste management services. The goal of the thesis project was to evaluate young children’s exposure to environmental hazards during play in public neighborhood areas that contain deteriorated latrines, trash, free-roaming animals, and open drainage canals.
As with many Global Health efforts, this project required resources and collaborators beyond the academic setting. We worked closely with colleagues at the non-profit organization, Terre des hommes, including our team leader at headquarters (Switzerland) and local staff working with and living in Corail (Haiti). As the project unfolded, our network of allies and those impacted by and interested in the health and safety risks of young children grew extensively. Thus, for the project to reach its’ full potential, we needed to involve and inform a diverse audience—from caregivers living in Corail, local partners in Haiti, and more broadly non-profit organizations and other academic institutes globally. Knowledge sharing, especially in the context of international research, is heavily dependent on the ability to overcome geographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic barriers. Publishing in an OA article to ensure free access to the public is a step in the right direction to overcome such barriers. Yet, reflective of the 2018 theme, it is our responsibility as researchers and those involved in information sharing to continuously evaluate and develop new strategies so that research is truly accessible to a diverse audience, including those who have limited access to the internet and literacy.
Conclusively, I would like to express my support and gratitude for the OA fund at the University of Iowa and encourage others, especially students, to take advantage of this wonderful resource. With the decision to re-fund the OA program in the spring, the staff at the University of Iowa library were swift to respond and process our application to publish the thesis project in an OA international journal (IJERPH). The library’s quick turnaround permitted the manuscript to be available to the public shortly thereafter. Having the OA fund at the University of Iowa is a valuable resource for faculty and graduate students who may not have other means to pay for the processing fee. I look forward to following OA efforts as they continue to expand and reach a global audience.