If academia has been filled with walled gardens of content, there’s now a way to smell the roses without breaking and entering. We’re pleased to see the launch of AcaWiki, a collaborative, Creative Commons-licensed, nonprofit â€œWikipedia for academic research.” At PCF, we’re big believers in the use of open-source and collaborative tools for education, and making inroads in traditionally closed off academia is a crucial part of ending educational inequality.
AcaWiki allows users to post summaries and literature reviews of academic papers, helping both academics and the general public gain access to the central ideas of peer-reviewed research without having to shell out big bucks for something that may not even be relevant to them. They make use of the important fact that you can’t copyright an idea to spread knowledge far and wide, while retaining the authority of a peer-reviewed process by focusing on materials that have been judged by others in their field.
AcaWiki can be used by those just interested in gleaning a little more knowledge about a variety of subjects, but it can also be used for more specific purposes. Do you teach classes that require students to write responses to academic papers they read? You can have them incorporate their response into a summary or review and tag it with your class name, so that students can benefit from one another’s readings and contribute to a wider body of academic knowledge. If you’re a researcher, AcaWiki is an excellent tool for easily figuring out what papers are worth purchasing or reading in whole.
As we’ve seen with fair use, it’s important to stand up for the rights we already have and make robust use of them in order to develop a truly participatory and thriving culture. Every time you write a summary, you’re proactively standing up for the critical fact that copyright doesn’t cover ideas, and in doing so, you’re ensuring a right to access of knowledge. So support open educational resources by checking out AcaWiki today!