Fall of the (pay)wall: accessibility and readability of scientific literature

Date & Time

Oct 28th at 11:00 AM until 12:30 PM


Digital Inclusion 


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Although science is largely publicly funded, many barriers make scientific papers inaccessible to the public. Paywalls literally block access but are not the only barrier, as the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate and interpret the literature are heavily tied to socioeconomic privilege. The goal of the session is to create new resources and tools to make the scientific literature a more welcoming and navigable space, particularly for underrepresented students and trainees in STEM.

We'll undergo three phases of a design process to create projects that help students access and understand scientific literature.

1. Empathize: Pairs will observe one another using the web to answer a scientific question from a primary source without journal subscription access. On post-it notes, they'll jot down barriers to access and understanding. To map the problem space, small groups will pool and group/label their post-it notes on white boards. We'll have a whole-group discussion on access and equity with respect to scientific literature.

2. Ideate: Small groups will select 1+ problems and brainstorm solutions.

3. Experiment/prototype: Small groups will sketch a front page interface and/or mission statement for one of their proposed solutions. We'll share and discuss the proposals.

This is a Learning Forum session.

Session Facilitators