Knowledge Management and Open Access

Knowledge Management and Open Access: The "Push" and "Pull" of Knowledge Sharing

At first glance, Knowledge Management and Open Access may appear to be quite different from each other. But in many ways, they represent the two different sides of knowledge sharing.

At its core, Knowledge Management is about maximizing the application and re-use of knowledge -- usually, within a particular organization or even a subset of an organization. The focus, then, for many organizations is on internal knowledge: capturing, organizing, describing (in order to support discovery), sharing, and promoting the re-use and application of internally-generated knowledge.

In many regards, Open Access is the inverse of this process. Instead of capturing, describing, archiving, and harnessing an organization's internal knowledge, Open Access focuses on external usage -- how to aggregate, describe, and disseminate knowledge. The key to Open Access is to ensure that materials are discoverable via search engines and through standards-compliant repositories. Within the Open Access movement, the focus was initially on research-related knowledge captured via peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. However, that definition has been broadening over the past decade, and many organizations involved in promoting Open Access push for various types of research products (datasets, grey literature, white papers, case studies, databases, etc.) to be made openly accessible.

OA: external knowledge "push;" KM: internal knowledge "pull" 

Thus, in a typical push/pull model for knowledge sharing, OA represents the "push" side of the equation (disseminating knowledge to a global audience), while KM represents the "pull" (working to capture, collect, describe, knowledge for internal re-use). With both Knowledge Management and Open Access, the key is ensuring that knowledge is discoverable in order to maximize its reuse. The reality of the work associated with KM and OA, therefore overlaps in many ways as well. In both types of work, we help organizations consider the implications this work in terms of people; processes and practices; and tools, technology, and platforms.