New to the SCN: Open for Health

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of our first CFP (fall 2020). A second CFP was issued in May ‘21 (closing in early July), and a third call will be issued toward the end of 2021.

Today we’re excited to share “Open for Health: How Open Access Can Create a More Equitable World” (available in the SCN OER Commons Hub as well as IUPUI ScholarWorks ), by Caitlin Pike. Caitlin created a detailed lesson plan and slides that may be useful to anyone interested in teaching health sciences students at all levels about the intersection of scholarly communications and social justice. Here’s Caitlin to introduce her project:

Open access (OA) publishing has steadily gained traction as an alternative to traditional publishing models since its introduction in the early 2000s. Social justice, including equitable access to information and bridging the digital divide, are also concepts familiar to many librarians. As a result, these ideas create a natural intersection for advocacy as health information professionals and health faculty with an interest in teaching students about scholarly communications.

In this lesson plan, there is an optional reading list to review the literature related to OA, health equity, and social justice to provide background on the topics depending on student familiarity. A brief PowerPoint lecture is included to provide an overview, and then students will break into groups, and each group will be given a topic with questions to spark discussion on the subject. Questions such as “Historically, how has access to health information created benefits or barriers to users?” or “When thinking about medical research, what stakeholders are concerned about open access and why?” Each group will select a notetaker to keep track of the responses, and time will be given at the end of the class to report out and have a wider discussion with each other.

The concept for this lesson plan began as a workshop for health sciences librarians at the 2019 European Association of Health Information and Libraries Conference in Basel, Switzerland. It was also adapted and presented as a webinar for the Medical Library Association in 2021. My goal was always to try to find a way to influence students’ perceptions of the main topics, because I truly believe that teaching the next generation of academics to change the status quo is the best way to get ourselves out of relying on for-profit publishers. I also wanted the lessons to be personal and relatable, and my hope is that students will leave the session with a better understanding of what under-served groups in their communities would benefit most from open access initiatives, as well as being able to more confidently advocate for OA among their peers and superiors.

About the Author

Caitlin Pike is the Research Engagement and Scholarly Services Coordinator at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) University Library. She also serves as a health sciences liaison librarian, where she provides instruction and in-depth literature searching expertise to the IU School of Nursing students and faculty. Caitlin completed a second master’s degree in public health in 2019 from the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests include open access, social justice, and developing relationships with students to facilitate library outreach. She has over five years of experience working with adult learners, and she received her MLS from North Carolina Central University in 2013.