How open access to scientific journalists can help the developing world | Free Speech Debate 2012-07-10


“Over the past several decades, the cost of scientific journals has risen precipitously, causing many academic libraries, particularly those in the developing world, to curtail their subscriptions drastically. This phenomenon, popularly known as the “serials crisis”, has had the effect of limiting knowledge flow to the developing world and limiting the ability of developing world researchers to participate fully in the global scientific community. In response to the ‘serials crisis’, new models of scientific publishing began to emerge in the 1990s under the general banner of ‘open access’. One such approach, popularly termed ‘green’ open access, encourages researchers to post versions of their published articles on academic websites or self-archiving sites, making them broadly available without charge. One recent study found that approximately 12% of the scientific literature published in 2008 can be found in green open access archives. Another approach that has gained significant traction is ‘gold’ open access publishing, in which journals make their entire contents freely available online, but charge publication fees to authors. Gold open access ventures such as the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central have attracted the backing of numerous influential scientists and support from major philanthropic organisations. One study found that in 2009 nearly 200,000 peer-reviewed articles were published in 4,769 gold open access journals, representing between 6% and 8% of the total peer-reviewed scientific literature published that year. Open access journals have thus seen impressive gains in just a decade, even as the large majority of peer-reviewed scientific output continues to appear in commercial, limited-access journals. In addition to open access publishing, a number of research institutions and funding agencies have begun to insist that research undertaken under their auspices be released on an open access basis. The best known of these initiatives is PubMed Central, a programme of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) which mandates that all scientific research that is funded by NIH (which makes grants in excess of $30bn per year) be released in NIH’s freely-accessible PubMed Central database within one year of publication. The UK’s Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council, as well as numerous other funding agencies and philanthropies across the world, have implemented similar requirements... Partially as a result of calls for global open access, programmes have been implemented by philanthropic organisations and commercial publishers to provide researchers in the developing world with free or significantly discounted access to paid journals. While such programmes have expanded access to publications that would otherwise be inaccessible, some observers have questioned their overall usefulness and sustainability. More fundamentally, some question whether content from western journals is sufficiently relevant to research and practice in developing countries and question whether the free availability of so much international scientific content actually hinders the development of local knowledge. Some believe that ‘green’ self-archiving is the key to scientific advancement in the developing world... But it is not clear that self-archiving will meaningfully increase research output by scientists in the developing world, or make their work more visible to (or respected by) scientists in the industrialised world (ie south-north transfers). As in the industrialised world, the gold (author-pays) open access route has also been advanced as a viable solution for the developing world. To their credit, many open access publishers waive or heavily discount author fees for researchers in low-income countries. But this seeming generosity may actually work to the disadvantage of locally-produced open access journals... Here are a few things that might help to improve the situation: 1. Increase the number and quality of south-focused scientific journals ... 2. Develop a ‘south-Elite’ index to differentiate among developing world open access journals on the basis of quality... 3. Developing world researchers should pay greater attention to research emanating from the rest of the developing world... 4. Develop new financial models to replace information philanthropy. Information philanthropy distorts information markets and influences behaviour in counterintuitive ways...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.pubmed oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.comment oa.usa oa.nih oa.south oa.libraries oa.plos oa.impact oa.quality oa.sustainability oa.prices oa.funders oa.history_of oa.fees oa.wellcome oa.recommendations oa.mrc oa.budgets oa.repositories oa.journals oa.economics_of



Date tagged:

07/10/2012, 21:18

Date published:

07/10/2012, 21:33