Monday, January 27, 2014 News

Innovator Developed Infrastructure that Enabled Open Access Journals to Flourish

Open Access

For Immediate Release
January 27, 2014

For more information, contact:
Andrea Higginbotham
(202) 296-2296
[email protected]

Innovator Developed Infrastructure that Enabled Open Access Journals to Flourish

Washington, DC – John Willinsky sees the free exchange of information as a matter of social justice.

When he recognized that the high cost of journals was keeping the public from having access to important research, Willinsky did more than just talk about the problem. He came up with a solution that helped to actively transform the scholarly communication world.

In the late 1990s, Willinsky founded the Public Knowledge Project and developed Open Journal Systems (OJS), a free, open source platform that allows journals to be more easily and affordably published online. The results speak for themselves – today, more than 1.5 million articles are published in journals using the OJS platform. In 2012 alone, over 5,000 journals published at least 10 articles using the software Willinsky and his team pioneered.

Because Willinsky is both a visionary and pragmatist who brings effective business teams together, SPARC honors Willinsky with its January 2014 Innovator Award.

“John understood the benefit of Open Access long before most people, and was able to build infrastructure that has been absolutely crucial to the successful advancement of Open Access journal publishing,” says Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “We’re proud to honor his rich contributions to changing the face of scholarly communication by naming the latest SPARC Innovator.”

Willinsky is currently the Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, and still is involved in the PKP operations and development of software. He served as an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Calgary in the 1980s, and Pacific Press Professor of Literacy and Technology on the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia in 1990.

Willinsky has traveled extensively to advocate for Open Access and help journals, especially in developing countries, make the switch to online publishing to save money. His goal was to create a viable alternative and to give people the tools to expand the reach of their work. “It seems so basic so me, in terms of a human right,” says Willinsky of access to knowledge. “But I have also come to believe over the years that the real value of learning is found in sharing what you’ve learned.”

The January 2014 SPARC Innovator Profile is online at

The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication propelled by an individual, institution, or group. Typically, these advances exemplify SPARC principles by challenging the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators are featured on the SPARC Web site semi-annually and have included the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), Michael Nielsen, Health Research Alliance, The World Bank, R. Preston McAfee, Harvard University FAS, Ted and Carl Bergstrom, Melissa Hagemann, among others.

For further information or a list of previous SPARC Innovators, please see the SPARC website.



SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at


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