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Ashley Farley of the Gates Foundation: “Knowledge should be a public good.”

Hi Ashley, and thanks for joining us here! Could you start off by letting us know a little bit about your background?

Certainly! I began college aiming for a Zoology degree while working at the University’s library. My love for information grew in proportion to my struggle for mastering Physics and Organic Chemistry. My senior year I transferred disciplines and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) focused on Library and Information Science. For the next decade, I worked in both public and academic libraries and began pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Washington (to be completed this summer. Yay!) Now I have found myself submersed in the realm of scientific knowledge and research dissemination. I find this to be a perfect way to combine all my passions – science, knowledge, and service to others.

Credit: Ashley Farley

When did you first hear about open access and open science? What were your initial thoughts?

The first time I heard about these topics was while interning at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the Knowledge and Research Services department. My initial thought was “How have I not heard of this before?!”. Having worked in libraries for many years I was familiar with the serials crisis and the importance of research, but I had not been introduced to the Open Access movement. Then I thought, “Of course Open Access should be the norm!”. Knowledge should be a public good.

“Of course Open Access should be the norm!”. Knowledge should be a public good.

What’s it like working for the Gates Foundation? How much of your time do you spend working on ‘open’ related things?

I really love working for the Gates Foundation – it’s providing me with the opportunity, each day, to work towards a greater good. A message that is posted throughout the foundation is “All Lives Have Equal Value” and I take this to heart. This is the first institution where I have been employed to embrace innovation and move initiatives forward fairly quickly. One of our tenets is that we will take risks that others can’t or won’t and I’m proud of this. Currently, I spend about 90% of my time on Open Access. This encompasses internal and external communications, advocacy of our policy, and working with our grantees to make their research open access. We’ve recently joined the newly launched Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) to work with other research funders worldwide to adopt mandates like ours. Together we can create a funding environment where Open Access or even Open Science is the norm. I am beginning to see the impact that my work has on the scientific community and it’s very exciting. We have other partnerships in the works that will be announced soon to continue to support the Open Access movement.

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