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02-22-2017

Clarkson University Professor Receives Grant to Produce & Direct Open Access Documentary

Clarkson University Associate Professor of Communication & Media Jason Schmitt has received a grant from the Open Society Foundation in Budapest, Hungary, to produce and direct a documentary on open access, "Paywall: The Business of Scholarship."

DocumentaryThe open access movement is an international effort focused on making research widely available for a worldwide community.

The scholarship that is produced in science and academics fuels a large profit-driven industry, Schmitt said, which often promotes paid access to information that has been publicly-funded in some capacity. This cost limits developing nations from accessing the studies which further separates power and privilege.

However, as support for open access grows among academics and scientists as well as philanthropists and politicians, the movement lacks a coherent image, face or brand. Schmitt said the documentary will help unite individuals from broad backgrounds to further support, and champion, open access.

"Open access is important to accelerate innovation and growth in a worldwide community of scholars, scientists and practitioners," he said. "I feel this documentary could play a role in exciting a worldwide conversation about access to scholarship in a digital age."

Clarkson Director of Libraries & Associate Professor Michelle L. Young said the three big pieces of open access are that the information is free to read, unrestricted and available online.

When library budgets are not able to meet the demands of publisher contracts, subscriptions are canceled and access to information is lost. Young said open access benefits academics by increasing the visibility and impact of research.

"Information hidden behind a paywall is seen as a disadvantage for everyone," she said. "Open access allows more information to be added to the intellectual record, and people can continue to research because access is available and there are increased opportunities for collaboration."

Several prominent academic writers have signed on to help write the documentary storyline, including Science magazine contributing correspondent John Bohannon, Birkbeck University of London Professor Martin Paul Eve, and futurist, educator and consultant Bryan Alexander.

Schmitt will have additional video crew support from Zach Brunelle '17 of Burt Hills, N.Y., and professional videographer Russel Stone of Burlington, Vt.

The grant will support the travel, editing and final mastering, as well as provide a streaming and downloadable file for global viewing of the documentary.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Associate Professor of Communication & Media Jason Schmitt, left, and Zach Brunelle '17 of Burt Hills, N.Y., work on the documentary, "Paywall: The Business of Scholarship." Schmitt has received a grant from the Open Society Foundation in Budapest, Hungary, to produce and direct a documentary on open access.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/jschmitt-documentary.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or kchezum@clarkson.edu.]

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