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A lot of what we do here in Scholarly Publishing relates to the running of Sydney University Press, and although it’s a big (exciting!) project, there are many other interesting, smaller projects that come under our remit. With many of these publishing projects, there is more ability and impetus to provide the materials OA.

One such project went live last week – just in time for Open Access Week! – via Sydney eScholarship (SeS).

SeS manages the repository service of the University of Sydney, and is an initiative of the University of Sydney Library. It’s designed to let Sydney Uni academics manage their digital materials: datasets, papers, audio, images, and more. You can find honours theses, conference presentations, research publications, OA journals, and more – all available online for instant access, peer review, and long-term preservation.

An early OA advocate

The project we’ve been working on has been in collaboration with Dr David J Collins, Emeritus Professor of Monash University. He has digitised and checked the Liversidge Research Lectures in Chemistry, which were presented by the Royal Society of NSW in 1931–2000. Thirty-two lectures were given during these years as a result of a generous bequest by Archibald Liversidge, a former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney and first Dean of the Faculty of Science. On his death in 1927, it was Liversidge’s wish that the lectures be “for the express encouragement of research” and that they should “be open to the public free or at a nominal fee”. He also intended for the lectures to be published cheaply, “so as to disseminate the information for the benefit of … the public.”

Despite the term ‘open access’ not entering the lexicon until nearly a hundred years after his death, it is clear that Professor Liversidge would have been an ardent OA champion. It is in this spirit that we have now published the full text of all thirty-two lectures in this series online as a new Sydney eScholarship journal. An introduction, written by Dr Collins, provides an insight into the remarkable achievements of Professor Liversidge and his contribution to the chemical sciences during his lifetime. Each of lectures also includes a short biography and list of achievements of the lecturer. And, if you wish to know more about Liversidge's work in the wider context of Australia’s transformation from colonies to country, Roy McLeod’s biography is a must-read.

To infinity and beyond

Though it’s amusing to note that ‘Organic Arsenicals in Peace and War’ was delivered in 1940, or that before renewal energy there was ‘Trace Elements in Coal Science’, the Liversidge Lectures are not simply a historical curiosity. Dr Collins’ motivation in undertaking this project was in part to illuminate how research interests and methods have changed over the decades, and also to encourage an appreciation of Australia’s chemical heritage.

In publishing this collection, we remind policymakers, curriculum developers and educators at all levels that Australian researchers have long been at the forefront of cutting-edge science and innovation. It is thanks to people like Liversidge, his lecturers, and many others that our history of curiosity and creativity has driven the economic and technological progress of this country for generations.

We certainly embrace the prospect that this collection might, in its own small way, inspire a budding chemist or two to think big.

OJS in style

We have published The Liversidge Research Lectures: The Royal Society of NSW Series 1931–2000 with Open Journal Systems, an open source publishing platform developed by the Public Knowledge Project. While OJS features in-built workflow management and excellent features for living journals, we have also found it to be very useful for publishing archival collections such as the Liversidge Lectures.

OJS comes with several inbuilt themes which may be utilised by any of the OJS journals. However, as an open source platform, there is of course plenty of scope for customisation. In an effort to give the Liversidge Lectures a unique style and to make the site accessible and easily-navigable, we have created a new CSS stylesheet that builds upon the default theme. This OJS stylesheet is now made available free for reuse and may be downloaded at this link.

We have used this stylesheet in tandem with the in-built ‘ClassicGreen’ theme by John Willinsky, but other OJS journal managers are encouraged to use, remix, transform, and build upon our stylesheet to add a little something extra to their own journals.

Happy Open Access Week!

This post is part of Sydney University Press’ celebration of International Open Access Week.

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