ANALYSIS & OPINION

Medical student association backs open access

The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations is the latest group to join the Right to Research Coalition. Nick Shockey looks at how this coalition is gathering momentum

In June of 2009, students made their first organised foray into the open access movement with the Student Statement on the Right to Research – a short petition signed by a handful of North American student organisations calling on students, researchers, universities, and governments to open up access to research. From that seed, the student voice calling for free, immediate, unrestricted access to the results of research has grown into something that was almost unimaginable in the beginning.

Only 18 months after its launch, the Student Statement has transformed into the Right to Research Coalition, an international alliance of over 30 student organisations which actively work to advocate for and educate students about a more open system of scholarly publishing. This month marks a significant milestone in the expansion of our coalition and of the student voice as a credible and growing force for opening scholarly communication. We’re pleased to announce that the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) will join our coalition as our 31st member.

IFMSA is the world’s largest medical student organisation, representing over 1.2 million medical students in 97 countries, and serves medical students all over the world. In explaining why IFMSA has chosen to make open access a priority, IFMSA’s president, Chijioke Kaduru, said: ‘Open access to research will positively benefit all aspects of health care…[and] will also improve and democratise medical education by expanding access to research articles so crucial to students’ training.’

IFMSA brings a truly global presence to our coalition that will help us educate the next generation of scholars and researchers in a way that reflects the international diversity of the wider open access movement. With IFMSA, our members now represent nearly seven million students throughout the world, demonstrating the deep and growing student commitment to open access. 

While we’re off to a solid start, this is only the beginning, and there are a number of opportunities for students and non-students alike to get involved. For students, it can be as easy as learning about open access yourself and bringing the issue up with your friends and colleagues; for researchers and professors, you can teach your students about apen access and that open, effective sharing of results is an integral part of the research process.

Nick Shockey is director of the Right to Research Coalition

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