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Knowledge Management and Open Access

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.

Abby Clobridge is the founder of FireOak Strategies. She works with organizations around the world to support knowledge sharing -- including open access, open data, information security -- to connect people to the data, information, and knowledge they need. You can reach Abby at [email protected]

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.

FireOak Strategies is a boutique consulting firm that helps organizations manage, secure, and share their knowledge. We bring clarity to complexity, look for elegant and simple solutions, and make sure that organizations are focused on solving the right problems. Learn more…

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