Saturday, October 25, 2014

Open access: Bringing educational research to light... en français

I work in the education library at a the University of Ottawa, and although I am not myself a librarian I am sometimes called on to help with reference questions because of my background in education. It's usually a matter of identifying some suitable keywords or educational terms for the research question and pointing students in the right direction. But there's an additional challenge. The university where I work is a bilingual English-French institution, and the faculty in which I work has the highest percentage of Francophone students of all the university's faculties.

The library databases and much of the educational research out there, however, are in English. Many of our students are bilingual, but it is frustrating to be unable to consistently serve our students in their language of preference. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) does offer several hundred education-related articles in Canadian journals that publish in both English and French, but very few of the articles themselves are in French and there is no way to isolate those that are.

Enter la Revue pour la Recherche en Éducation (RRÉ) a French-language, open access, scholarly journal of educational research. Created in 2009 through collaboration between researchers at several Canadian universities, including the University of Ottawa, and consisting of three volumes to date, the online publication provides free access to the full text of peer-reviewed articles, and also invites submissions from the research community. And because it is a digital publication, it allows for dynamic content such as video and audio.

I learned about this publication during International Open Access Week at the University of Ottawa, which is celebrating five years of participation this year. As the University's website on open access explains, "Open access (OA) means making the information which scholars provide without expectation of payment available online at no cost to readers," and the benefits are as follows:
  • "Increased visibility and greater impact."
  • "Authors retain their copyright."
  • "Society as a whole benefits...When knowledge is shared it can be mobilised."
La Revue pour la Recherche en Éducation (RRÉ) is still a fledgling publication, but it clearly has value for educational research and fills an important gap in the sharing of French-language educational research in Canada. I will certainly be directing our students' and faculty members' attention to the RRÉ for research and the publishing of findings.

Next I think I'll be exploring open translation tools, because wouldn't it be great if we could further remove barriers to the sharing of knowledge?

This post was written as an assignment for the course ISI 5701: Information et Societé in the Fall 2014 term.