Open Access Week 2023: Dr. Lawrence’s Translated Texts

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Guest post by Jason Boczar, Digital Scholarship and Publishing Librarian

As it celebrates its fifteenth year, SPARC’s International Open Access Week aims to “raise awareness” about the “importance of community control of knowledge sharing systems.” To celebrate, the team behind USF Library’s institutional repository, Digital Commons @ USF, is excited to share some of the important free and open research we host with the world. 

What is Open Access? 

The goal of Digital Commons @ USF is to make faculty and student research open access (OA). Open Access refers to “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” This is important because research placed behind a paywall that only research institutions with large budgets can afford limits worldwide distribution. More people who publish open access means more research materials are available for anyone to use. 

Dr. Lawrence’s Open Access Translations 

In this post, we’d like to showcase a collection of more than 57 nineteenth-century French biological works hosted on Digital Commons. Much of the biological work during this time was written by French authors, which was a lingua franca. Today, the scientific community does not rely on French language training as much, leaving many of these works unread. Translating these texts to English has been the work of Department of Integrative Biology Professor Emeritus John Lawrence. While the original works are in the public domain, the translations are not and Professor Lawrence chose to publish them open access through USF. When asked about his work, Professor Lawrence said, “This classical work is still valid. Even though these works are now online, contemporary workers cannot read them. This is the importance of translation of these works.” 

Professor Lawrence’s translations were added to Digital Commons @ USF for free, worldwide distribution. The global impact is evident: the 57 translations have had over 5,000 total downloads from 6 continents in 49 countries. Jean-Pierre Féral, emeritus Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), wrote to Professor Lawrence to say he welcomed the translations because it means the works will not be lost. 

The USF Libraries is happy to work with Professor Lawrence to make these important scientific works available to everybody. International Open Access Week is a time to acknowledge the breaking down of knowledge barriers and this collection directly accomplishes that.

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