February 27, 2022

UAntwerp: Game of Open Access brings students on board!

The University of Antwerp organizes an Open Access Week every year. This initiative is run by the University library together with the Department of Research Affairs, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty of Law. In 2021, a team of students, with the support of several staff members of the University of Antwerp, set up an “Open Access Student Event”. 

As many students have relatively limited or no knowledge about Open Science and Open Access, the purpose of this project is to raise awareness about these topics, common practices and the relevance for students among (under)graduate students. What is special about this event is the fact that it was made by and for students. Apart from a presentation by the students and in order to make the event more enjoyable and attract a bigger audience, the team decided to convey fundamental Open Science concepts – OA routes, CC licenses, Data Management, FAIR principles – by means of a board game.

The “Game of Open Access” already existed beforehand and several versions of the game are available at open repositories for reuse. The team of the University of Antwerp took those versions as a basis and developed a new game adapted to the context of the “Open Access Student Event” and the needs and interests of the University of Antwerp, including questions related to the Open Access legislation in Belgium and the university policy, Citizen Science projects at the university, as well as statistics on subscriptions and the use of the university repository. The event took place on 29 October 2021. To attract students to the event, organisers used quite professional marketing and prepared some prizes. Before playing the board game, the team made a short presentation explaining the Open Access Week and the basic principles of Open Access and Open Science. During the game, students had the opportunity to talk with researchers and staff members to better understand how those principles are applied in practice. At the end the participants received a goodie bag together with a leaflet and information on the topics discussed during the workshop. This event was a pilot and organisers intend to expand it further.

What has the initiative achieved so far?

About 25 students and PhD researchers registered for the pilot event on October 29th. Participants were very positive about the informal exchange with the students, researchers and staff members that were present and indicated that they had gained a lot of new knowledge. Moreover, the game has already attracted the attention of other departments of the university who would like to use it with students, junior researchers and data managers. Other colleagues and departments are welcome to use the board games and to make it available to others. In addition the team managed to prepare a presentation that is accessible and easy to understand despite the relatively complex and diverse concepts and appropriate for a wider (academic) audience with limited or no previous knowledge on the topic.

How FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reproducible) is the practice?

The announcement of the “Open Access Student Event” is available at the University’s website. The recording of the presentation is also made available. Three versions of the board game have been printed, and are available for loan at the library of the University. All the documents of the “Game of Open Access” – board, cards with questions and answers, booklet with rules and clarifications to the answers – have also been published on ZENODO, an open repository (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5764359). This will allow other institutions to reuse and adapt the game to their context in the future. Moreover, organisers are planning another “Open Access Student Event” next year on a larger scale during Open Access Week 2022, with at least three parallel workshops happening at three campuses of the University of Antwerp, as we have learnt that students are relatively reluctant to go to other campuses to participate in this type of events.

Info on the applicants

Our international and interdisciplinary team consists of five members; researchers and staff members of the University of Antwerp. Our most important members are two student researchers with special interest in Open Science. Cathy De Wilder is a law student at the University of Antwerp and professional in marketing and advertising for the entertainment industry, who is writing her master thesis on the operationalization of Open Access in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Felipe de Andrade is a law student from Brazil, who is currently doing his Master of Laws at the University of Antwerp and who has been involved in a research project on Open Access in Brazil. Maja Sahadzic is a staff member specialized in Open Science at the Research Department and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Law. Rudi Baccarne is a staff member at the university library responsible for the institutional repository and Esther van Zimmeren is a Professor in Intellectual Property Law and Governance at the Faculty of Law. The team is involved in the organization of the yearly Open Access Week at the University of Antwerp. In 2021 we started a pilot to organize an Open Science student event with and for students during the Open Access Week.

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