Monday, December 11, 2006

John Willinsky and the Public Knowledge Project

The University of British Columbia's Dr. John Willinsky, founder of the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), is - most remarkably - world-renowned for both theoretical and practical contributions to the open access movement. The idea of public knowledge embraces open access, but goes beyond to encompass the transformative potential of open access for society as a whole, while the free, open source Open Journal Systems has greatly facilitated the development of open access publishing.

While some open access leaders focus exclusively on increasing access for researchers, the public knowledge approach is broader. John talks about access to knowledge as transformative for society as a whole. Historically, it was an increase in access to knowledge that made public libraries, and subsequently public schools, possible. The transformative potential for our society with open access to our scholarly research is as difficult for us to imagine, as public universities might have been in the days before the printing press.

John Willinsky's outstanding theoretical contributions have been recognized by the American Library Association, who awarded the 2006 Blackwell Scholarship Award for John's book The Access Principle (also available in DLIST. Links to more of John's works can be found from the PKP Publications page.

The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is best known for its open source software - particularly Open Journal Systems (OJS) , a free, open source journal publishing software platform. Since its release on November 8, 2002, an event noted on Peter Suber's Open Access Timeline, OJS has become the publishing platform for over 800 journals, in 10 languages, around the world, greatly facilitating open access publishing. Examples of projects and journals using OJS: AJOL, African Journals Online, Revista Brasileira de Entomologia.

OJS is used not only around the globe, but also right here in Canada - for example, by Theoretical Economics, hosted by the University of Toronto. OJS is the platform of choice for another Canadian open access leadership initiative, the International Coalition for the Advancement of Academic Publication at Athabasca University. OJS is also in use at the University of Alberta Libraries, publisher of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, and the University of Guelph Library, host of Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, both new open access journals.

PKP also produces the open source Open Conference Systems and Open Archives Harvester.

Initially developed at the University of British Columbia, in 2005 PKP became a joint project of the UBC Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University Library, and the Canadian Center for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University.

Recently, PKP was the sole Canadian winner of the first annual Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration.

PKP is a partner of, and endorsed by, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

To learn more about PKP, meet the PKP team and other open access leaders (myself included!) plan to attend the First Annual PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference July 11 - 13, 2007, in Vancouver, British Columbia - one of the three best cities in the world to visit or live, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. There's still plenty of time to submit a proposal to the Call for Papers.

Disclosures: while I do not work for the PKP Project, I do work (indirectly) for one of the partners of the project - SFU Library, and I am on the planning committee for the PKP Scholarly Publishing conference.

This post is the second in the series Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement.

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