Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Cause for celebration!

Professor Wendy Hall, CBE, has been appointed DBE in the UK New Year Honours List for services to science and technology. As a prime mover in web science both at the University of Southampton, in Europe and in her global support of Open Access, it is greatly fitting that she has been honoured in this way. We salute her! And we thank her for her quiet support of the use of the Web in the promotion of science, including Open Access to research findings. Dame Wendy, many congratulations from the EPT!

All at EPT wish researchers everywhere a wonderful, peaceful and productive 2009!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Recording three month's progress for OA

In early September this year I was giving a couple of presentations on OA and its impact on developing countries (the Inter Academy Panel workshop in Cuba, ( and the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science in Liverpool, UK, and in the course of preparation of figures for my Power Point presentations I collected information showing the level of OA-development in the developing and emerging countries, particularly with regard to the numbers of Institutional Repositories that had been set up. Now, I have revisited those figures to see what has changed. And it’s good news.

In early September, the total number of IRs (as shown by the Registry of Open Access Repositories, was 1122. Of these, 173 had been set up in developing countries (15.5%). I rechecked these figures on December 16th and found that the total number of IRs had risen by 112 to 1234, of which the number in developing countries was now 262 (21%).

While, in this ~3 month period, the number of registered IRs had increased at a rate approaching 1/day, the supporting funder/institutional/departmental mandates - that have such a positive impact on filling the repositories - had also risen from 56 to 60, with 11 more under development (see Moreover, in the same period the number of OA journals had increased by 242 (see Directory of Open Access Journals OA was firing on all cylinders and things were moving ahead strongly.

IRs (% in developing countries)


OA Journals

September 2008

1122 (15.5%)



December 2008

1234 (21%)

(11 pending)


Furthermore, as reported elsewhere on this blog, usage of these OA resources was quite spectacular, demonstrating the real need that exists for this research information currently inaccessible to many. And, as we also learn daily (see Peter Suber’s OAN), with the arrival of Open Access a whole raft of associated developments are being funded and coming on line – new applications, search/support/networking improvements, IR workshops, software development workshops, open data workshops, policy meetings and conferences . . . As, following the invention of the motor car, so roads, garages, driving licenses, parking arrangements, car salesmen, maps and associated engineering services all emerged, so we now see a vibrant hum of OA activities around the world.

Only the most blinkered of us could imagine any kind of return to the old ring-fenced system that has caused such problems for developing country research (and research everywhere). And the research communities in the developing world blink their eyes as the light at the end of the tunnel begins to dazzle with new research opportunities.

This blog raises a glass half full of good wishes to all OA advocates and the researchers they work to support!

Posted by Barbara Kirsop, Trustee EPT

Monday, 24 November 2008

Events celebrating Open Access Day in eIFL countries

Thanks to Iryna Kuchma, eIFL OA Program Manager, (who posted the following record of events on the eIFL website we can see how widespread the celebration of OA has become:


October 14, 2008 was the world’s first Open Access Day. The founding partners were SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Students for FreeCulture, and the Public Library of Science. Open Access Day helped to broaden awareness and understanding of Open Access, including recent mandates and emerging policies, within the international higher education community and the general public ( Information about Open Access Day activities in Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mozambique, Poland, South Africa, Sudan.

Azerbaijan: Khazar University Library Information centre translated "A very brief introduction to Open Access" by Peter Suber into Azeri language ( Khazar University Library Information Center administrates Khazar University Institutional Repository (KUIR) - the fist institutional repository in Azerbaijan showcasing the research outputs of Khazar University staff (; more information about the repository is here: Contact person: Tatyana Zayseva, Library Information Centre Director, tzayseva[@]

Lithuania: Lithuanian research libraries consortium together with Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science and the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education organized the workshop about Open access in the Lithuanian Academy of Science on October, 14, 2008. Workshop program is available online ( and information about open access is also on the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium website ( Contact person: Dr. Gintare Tautkeviciene, Kaunas University of Technology, eIFL Open Access country coordinator, gintare.tautkeviciene[@]

Macedonia: On the occasion of the International Open Access Day, Metamorphosis Foundation sent an open letter to the Ministry of Education and Science and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia calling them to instigate an initiative for systematic, prompt and efficient resolution for the acute lack of educational contents available online (e-contents) in the local languages in Macedonia (,en/). Contact person: Bardhyl Jashari, Metamorphosis Foundation, bjasari[@]

Moldova: A blog about Open Access in Romanian language and a directory of Open Access Moldavian resources were launched on the Open Access Day: Natalia Cheradi, eIFL Open Access coordinator in Moldova, Consortium eIFL Direct Moldova, spoke about Open Access on the National Radio and National TV (TV-4 channel). Contact person: Natalia Cheradi, the Open Access Coordinator for Moldova, cheradi[@]

Mozambique: Aissa Mitha Issak, eIFL country coordinator in Mozambique, wrote an article about Open Access to be published in the national newspaper and participated in the Radio Mozambique show. She also translated "We Support Open Access Flyer" featuring a librarian, teacher, funder, student and patient advocate, into Portuguese language. Earlier this year Aissa Mitha Issak organised a workshop about Institutional Repositories and Open Access in Maputo, Mozambique. The major outcome of this workshop was a project on the shared open repository for Mozambique, gathering the intellectual production of the academic and research staff in the country funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and at the pilot stage covering three institutions. The University of Minho will assure the technical support. More information: Contact person: Aissa Mitha Issak, eIFL country coordinator in Mozambique, amissak[@]

Poland: Bożena Bednarek-Michalska, eIFL Open Access country coordinator in Poland, Nicolaus Copernicus University Library in Torun, Poznan Foundation of Scientific Libraries, translated into Polish "A very brief introduction to Open Access" by Peter Suber and "We Support Open Access Flyer"; different institutions put this information with Open Access Day icon on their portals and web-sites on October 14. Bożena Bednarek-Michalska sent letters to the ministries, Universities and other public institutions about Open Access. Web-sites about Open Access Day: ICM (Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling), Warsaw, Poland posted blog posts about Open Access Day: and

South Africa: In celebration of Open Access Day, Durban University of Technology Libraries hosted an informal open session on the Institutional Repository and how researchers can get their research ready for submission into the Repository. Contact person: Pam Govender, pamgoven[@]; Web & IT Support Officer, DUT Library, ML Sultan Library, University of Pretoria had an Open Access happening of which the message was "You are in good company if you support open access" with posters all over campus, buttons, a message on the university's main web page ( a powerpoint slide show running constantly in the library (, students with OA t-shirts speaking to other students. Two open sessions on the open access research repository were organised and attended by 60 researchers from across faculty. Contact people: Monica Hammes, Assistant Director: Open Scholarship, Quality Assurance and UP Centenary Academic Information Service, University of Pretoria, Monica.Hammes[@] and Ina Smith, Digital Research Repository (UPSpace) Manager & eApplication Specialist, Department of Library Services, University of Pretoria, Ina.Smith[@] University of Johannesburg Library and Information centre promoted Open Access day (UJ Science Librarian Blog: and UJ Librarians News: Contact person: Pavlinka Kovatcheva, Subject Librarian: Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, pkovatcheva[@]

Sudan: Abdalaziz Gabir, Open University of Sudan Library and eIFL Open Access country coordinator in Sudan, published at the web-site of the Open University of Sudan ( selected translations from English into Arabic about benefits of Open Access to contribute to the awareness raising among Arabic countries. These documents will be also disseminated via the web-site of the Ministry of higher education of Sudan. Contact person: Abdalaziz Gabir, Open University of Sudan Library and eIFL Open Access country coordinator in Sudan, abdalazizgabir[@]

More information about events celebrating Open Access Day:

We are pleased to announce that next year’s Open Access Week will be in October 2009, dates to be confirmed. To hear about the latest development please complete the form here:

Monday, 17 November 2008

Bioline spreads its wings!

Bioline International has now been working with publishers in developing countries for 15 years, helping to raise the visibility of the largely unrecognised research reported in their journals. There are now 70 journals from 17 countries using the Bioline platform and, because of the benefits of open access in terms of visibility, improved submissions, improved impact and even improved subscription levels to the printed versions, there is now a queue of other journals waiting to become partners.

Usage of the open access Bioline material rises year by year (in 2007, for example, there were 3.5 million full text downloads made by readers from both the developing world and the industrial nations and usage up to mid-2008 is equally encouraging) showing a real need for the information in the journals.

The joint initiative between the University of Toronto and the Centre for Environmental Research Information in Brazil is now launching a new Sponsorship and Membership program to increase the level of funding available in order to extend the numbers of journals on the system. Organisations or individuals may either become founding Sponsors by making a single donation, the level of which can be negotiated individually, or may become Members through an annual donation of $500. Already, a number of organisations have made such a commitment, recognising the importance of including regional research into the global knowledge pool.

As no charge is made to partner publishers for document management or site maintenance, all such donations will be spent directly in enabling poorly known journals published in developing countries to reap the benefits of open access and become part of the international scene.

Congratulations are due to the University of Toronto and the CRIA centre in Brazil for all their hard and dedicated work. Bioline has ‘come of age’. Any organisation or individual wanting to support the extension of this invaluable service can find out more at

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Yes, you can

On this momentous day, when America has returned the Democratic party to office by electing its first African-American President, Barak Obama, the world can look forward to changes in America’s approach in science. During his campaign, Obama announced that he planned to double investment in basic research, ensure more transparency in contracts, and make government data available to all online (see This intention, combined with his ‘can do’ philosophy, presages well for the open distribution and sharing of research data. His background in Kenya and Indonesia ensures an understanding of the need to redress the information-deprivation experienced still by researchers in the economically poor countries.

This message of renewed hope for greater openness in sharing information, comes at a time when there is growing evidence of the manifest benefits for individual researchers achieved by providing open access to their research output. The OptimalScholarship blog of Alma Swan,, recently provided yet another very encouraging story showing how deposit of articles in the Queensland University of Technology repository has significantly increased the downloads/impact/citation of deposited research articles. The QUT’s most prolific author, a chemist, Ray Frost, found that citations to his work increased from ~300 to 1200/year once he had deposited his papers in the QUT open access repository in 2004, as the charts below show.

So if you researchers out there want to make a difference, want your research to lead to new developments, want to raise your career prospects, the means are in your hands. Deposit copies of your published articles in your institutional repository, or publish in an OA journal in the first place. Yes, you can.

And if your institute is so behind the times that it hasn’t yet established an IR (remember, free software, quick to set up, free help to hand), please let the EPT know on We need to know of any difficulties (and of any successes too) in making your research as widely accessible as possible. There are people that can help, but they need to know the scale and kind of problems you face.

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Open Access Day - remembering an historical event 60 years ago

Open Access Day – an historical perspective from the UK

As everyone is celebrating the first Open Access Day, October 14th 2008, Britain has recently been celebrating the 60th birthday of the establishment of its National Health Service. On July 5th 1948, just 3 years after the end of WWll, when food and clothes rationing were still in place, the fiery Welsh MP for Ebbw Vale, Aneurin Bevan – ex miner, Labour to his boots - fought fierce opposition from the medical establishment to achieve what to many was an unimaginable dream of a free health service for all at the point of delivery. Free and open access to local doctors, hospitals, medicines, maternity care, dental treatment . . .

At this time, the country was rebuilding many hospitals that had been destroyed and it seemed an unlikely time to introduce such a revolutionary concept. The medical profession and its senior organisation, the British Medical Association, were appalled and saw the NHS as heralding the end of their cherished profession, the end of their prized status and indeed their livelihood. There were petitions, marches, heated debates and it seemed the battle was lost. But Bevan stuck firm to his vision and initiated a vigorous publicity campaign targeted at the general public. As the strength of the positive response from the population became clear, a few doctors wavered and agreed to join the NHS. It then became clear to the profession that if some of their community agreed, they would attract very high numbers of patients, leaving the deniers struggling for people to add to their list. They might be faced with empty waiting rooms and no income. At this moment in the campaign Bevan proposed that if doctors agreed to serve with the NHS, they could retain a part of their private practice. A deal was struck and the NHS came into existence, on time, over budget and under-prepared. Sick people – really sick people - flocked to their doctors, threatening to overwhelm the service, but demonstrating indisputably the great volume of untreated health problems within the population.

As we watched recent TV programmes on the battle for the NHS, it has been tempting to draw parallels with the drive towards OA. The publishers fear the advent of free global access to publicly funded research findings. They too fear their livelihoods will be damaged. As in 1948, there are misunderstandings, misinformation, technical uncertainties. But both the NHS and OA came into being to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities. When the NHS opened its doors, there was astonishment at the long queues of citizens waiting for free treatment. Similarly, as research articles have become available free to all, usage has rocketed and full text download statistics have amazed OA repository managers and OA publishers, demonstrating without doubt the information deprivation faced by much of the global scientific community.

And now, 60 years on, the NHS flourishes. People grumble of course, there have been little injections of commercialisation, and the service has elements in need of improvement, - but in truth the British treasure the NHS to such an extent that it has been proposed that its birthday be marked as a national holiday, “as a symbol of the countries’ commitment to fairness”. The doctors have adapted (and are still earning enviable salaries), the patients are beginning to forget how it used to be and make increasing demands, the health of the nation has improved beyond recognition. The courageous ‘Nye’ Bevan was vilified by the establishment, but today some of those that witnessed this social revolution have placed him on a pedestal, for ever grateful for his vision. And six years on from February 14th 2002 when the Budapest Open Access Initiative was launched, the embryo OA still thrives, as does the publishing industry.

Sixty years hence, on OA Day 2068, the international research community will look back on the old days and wonder how research was ever conducted without the access now becoming available - and if the history of the NHS is a model, there will be no turning back the clock.

On 5 July we start together, the new National Health Service. It has not had an altogether trouble-free gestation. There have been understandable anxieties, inevitable in so great and novel an undertaking…... My job is to give you all the facilities, resources and help I can, and then to leave you alone as professional men and women to use your skills and judgement without hindrance. Let us try to develop that partnership from now on.'
- Aneurin Bevan, The Lancet, 1948

For more information on Aneurin Bevan and the political fight for the NHS, see

Posted by Barbara Kirsop, Trustee and Secretary EPT.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Australia leads the way

Following the conference on Open Access and Research held in September in Australia,, and hosted by Queensland University of Technology, the following statement was developed and has the endorsement of over sixty participants.

Brisbane Declaration


The participants recognise Open Access as a strategic enabling activity, on which research and inquiry will rely at international, national, university, group and individual levels.


Therefore the participants resolve the following as a summary of the basic strategies that Australia must adopt:

1 Every citizen should have free open access to publicly funded research, data and knowledge.

2 Every Australian university should have access to a digital repository to store its research outputs for this purpose.

3 As a minimum, this repository should contain all materials reported in the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).

4 The deposit of materials should take place as soon as possible, and in the case of published research articles should be of the author’s final draft at the time of acceptance so as to maximize open access to the material.

Brisbane, September, 2008

Arthur Sale, a participant and strong advocate of open access said, ‘The Conference wanted to support the two Australian Ministers with responsibility for Innovation, Science and Health in their moves to make open access mandatory for all Australian-funded research.' The Declaration represented an overwhelming consensus of the active members of the repository community in Australia and Arthur Sale believes that it offers a model for other countries. Once again, Australia is ahead of the game in working towards a national open access policy.

Monday, 22 September 2008

OA 'a small idea'?

A recent contributor to the AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM@LISTSERVER.SIGMAXI.ORG, Joe Esposito, made statements that need addressing. He said, in relation to the semi-automated ability to request copies of papers of articles archived in OA Institutional Repositories, ‘ Most authors, of course, will not be troubled much with requests because the articles are indeed available to most researchers through institutional subscriptions’, and later ‘. . . OA has little impact’, and finally ‘OA is a small idea’. By responding to this posting, I am aware that I am merely re-stating what is abundantly clear to the scholarly community, but less informed readers may be concerned by the statements made.

If it is true, as he states, that ‘the articles are available to most researchers through institutional subscriptions’, how is it that when material *is* made OA, hundreds and thousands of articles are downloaded daily? How is it, for example, that of the 13,000 records archived in the Universidad de Los Andes’ OA Institutional Repository in Venezuela, 10,000 full text health articles were downloaded in the first 8 days in August 2008? Researchers in the developing world – as has been reported many times and is now well acknowledged – can afford few or even no subscriptions (see for eg New England Journal of Medicine 350, no. 10 (2004): 966–968, showing that in a WHO survey of medical institutes in developing countries there had been *no* subscriptions to journals over the previous 5 years by 56% of institutes in the poorest countries). Globally, no library can afford all the journals it would wish to subscribe to.

In spite of research findings to the contrary, he also concludes that ‘OA has little impact’. But people have different interpretations of what is ‘impact’. To some, it just means citations. Important, yes, but as all researchers know, at the start of a new project, it is standard practice to find and read a considerable number of papers, some recent, some not, and the knowledge this provides feeds into their future work, directing their understanding, broadening their horizons, providing technical information (methods, procedures . .) and only a little of this will be cited in future publications. This ‘impact’ arising from their reading and discussions with colleagues is near-immeasurable, but is essential to the successful conduct of research programmes. If impact equals recorded future usage, statistics of the magnitude of downloads being shown from OA IRs (see ‘Bring on the IRs’ on this blog, March 2008) and OA Journals (3.5 million full text downloads from developing country journals distributed through the Bioline International system in a year . . . sharply increasing usage figures from the OA MedKnow journals published in Mumbai . . .) now demonstrate clearly that this information, previously locked away in vaults, is needed and downloaded by researchers for professional purposes, not for fun.

And if the concept of OA is ‘a small idea’, how is it that approaching 55 highly regarded international and national organisations have required that it be adopted? How is it that there are now 1145 registered OA Institutional Repositories (increasing by ~1/day)? How is it that there are now 3617 registered OA Journals?

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Thursday, 11 September 2008

OA between Caribbean hurricanes

OA between two hurricanes

An InterAcademy Panel workshop on ‘Open Access to Scientific Literature and other Digital Scientific Information Resources in Central America and the Caribbean: Focus on Education and Health for Sustainable Development’ was organized by the Cuban Academy of Science – between hurricanes. In spite of weather worries, speakers arrived and everything took place in excellent order, organized seemingly near-single handed by Alejandro Caballero de Rivero of the Cuban Academy. Alejandro has my vote for the Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of Workshop Organisation. The programme is available from, and further information will be posted on the site in due course, so bookmark this site to receive details of the presentations.

My impression is that many of the Caribbean participants are well informed about OA and very anxious to become part of the OA exchange of research information, but are struggling to organize how to manage this within their own research structures. Who will do it? Inter-departmental communication is not always well established yet – not only in Cuba, but also in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries. Participants sometimes knew more about international OA developments than about what is taking place across town. Incoming speakers and participants from more OA-advanced countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Chile were able to provide a lot of relevant information and contacts, which it is hoped will accelerate progress.

There were presentations on how the Creative Commons License works, how institutional repositories work, how the InterAcademy works, what is underway in the different Cuban ministries. The research networks infrastructure progress was described and OA policy developments in Brazil, as well as progress in the SciELO e-publishing service. Outside the formal programme there were short presentations on the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook, an OSI-supported initiative to bring together in a single resource ‘everything you will ever want to know about OA’, with new and existing initiatives being contributed by experts around the world. Watch for developments over the coming months. Additionally a short presentation was made on the EU’s next DRIVER programme (called OverDriver) which is aimed at exporting the DRIVER institutional repository services beyond the EU to enable exchange of research information between the EU and researchers in other regions of the world.

The IAP will be working on projects to support OA developments, following a final discussion on needs and opportunities.

The arrival of the hotel parrot in the beautiful tropical atrium at coffee breaks was much appreciated and led to interesting conversations.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

BioMedCentral holds forum on access to medical research at BAAS 'Festival of Science'

The British Association for the Advancement of Science’s ‘Festival of Science’ will include a special forum (see, organised by BioMedCentral, to discuss how research and open communication can help to advance medical understanding of diseases prevalent in developing countries. It will take place at the University of Liverpool, UK, on Wednesday September 10th at 16.00 hrs and is free to all

BioMed Central’s Publisher, Matt Cockerill, will chair the forum. Speakers include Hattie Begg, Advocacy and Research Officer of African Medical and Research Foundation; Dr Colin Sutherland, Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Editorial Board Member of Malaria Journal, Barbara Kirsop from the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development; and David Dickson, Editor of

Monday, 4 August 2008

OA Workshop in Cuba

International Workshop for Open Access to Scientific Literature and other Digital Scientific Information Resources in Central America and the Caribbean: Focus on Education and Health for Sustainable Development

This workshop is part of the InterAcademy Panel on International issues (IAP) Program on Promoting Access to and Use of Digital Knowledge Resources, focusing on countries with developing and transitional economies, and follows a previous IAP initiative on Access to Scientific Information in Developing Countries.

So within the framework of this Program, the Academy of Sciences of Cuba is organizing the international workshop. It will take place on September 3 to 4, 2008, at the Palco Hotel, Havana, Cuba. It will be organized into nine sessions, each one led by a chair and a designated rapporteur. Sessions will cover international trends in open access and use of digital scientific information and opportunities for sustainable development. Infrastructure, management, technical and copyright issues will be addressed.

The initial announcement can be found on the Academy of Science of Cuba web site, in both English and Spanish, see:

Details of the programme are now available by clicking on the PDF link at the bottom of the announcement.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Important July 2008 developments

[1] A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Indian Association of Universities and the Association of Netherlands Universities which includes the statement (under the heading ‘Access to publications’) that ‘The Parties will promote among their members open access to scientific and scholarly publications.’

The full text may be viewed from:

[2] Full text downloads of papers presented at ELPUB Conference, June 2008 can be accessed from

[3] Full text downloads and video's of presentations at the recent ICTP workshop in Trieste, ' Open Access models for science dissemination' can be accessed from

Note: EPT Trustee Leslie Chan was the organizer of the ELPUB Conference in Toronto, and played a major role in the Trieste workshop.

[4] On July 17th, Canada’s National research Council announced its Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate, National Research Council. There are now 49 mandates adopted by research organisations and 12 more proposed. See ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies).

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Nature headlnes more harm than good

The journal Nature has published two letters in their correspondence section relating to developing countries and open access, see

While the content of the letters was not well informed, the headlines were damaging and inexcusable.

Headline 1: ‘Open access more harm than good for developing countries’

Headline 2: ‘Future of open access could be online and peer reviewed’

[H1] The provision of unprecedented volumes of research information now freely available to all with access to the Internet (3489 OA Journals; 1101 OA institutional repositories) translates into a growing resource of scholarly information for supporting research webwide. This is hardly harmful, and is not what the author was referring to.

[H2] OA has always been online and peer-reviewed. OA journals are peer reviewed just as are toll access journals, and institutional repositories contain already published articles that have also been peer-reviewed.

Three letters sent to Nature correcting misinterpretations and misunderstandings were refused publication.

As statistics from OA Journals and OA IRs now show, usage of OA resources by the countries disenfranchised from use of toll access journals is extremely high. This is not surprising - without OA, the sick, the hungry and the poor continue to suffer from lack of information and their countries continue to struggle to develop strong and independent research structures. Therefore, the headlines created by the Nature editorial team are factually wrong and damaging to sustainable development. Such headlines certainly make it difficult to read future Nature correspondence with any degree of trust.

For further discussion on this issue, see in Open Access News .

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Friday, 4 July 2008

Public health consequences of closed access

If you are looking for an authoritative and comprehensive article on the background and rationale for open access and its importance for developing countries, you could do no better than read, “Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: A rights violation that impedes global health” by Gavin Yamey, published in the international journal, Health and Human Rights, Vol 10, No 1 (2008), and available (OA) online from

This is an excellent article that introduces the issue of human rights into the open access debate. It provides many quotes from researchers in the developing world that bring real-life examples of how closed access damages public health and restricts the development of academic strength in low-income regions of the world. And it matches these examples with the considered views of many international organisations and authorities, reiterating the widely accepted view that economic growth is dependent on a strong and independent research base.

But the article is already out of date. Since its publication the number of organisations introducing open access mandates has grown from 11 to 46, with a further 8 under development. Moreover, the article focuses almost exclusively on OA publishing, whereas the increasing volume and usage of free material available from institutional repositories is only touched on. This is a pity as the development of interoperable OA repositories is the fastest, cheapest and easiest means to get authors’ versions of already refereed and published research findings into the hands of those that need them. Perhaps Yamey can be persuaded to write a second insightful article on the importance of OA IRs to research and sustainable development . . . and he could include the huge benefit OA provides in making the ‘invisible’ research carried out in the poorer countries globally ‘visible’.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

OA progress in developing countries - an EPT selection from ELPUB

The ELPUB Open Scholarship Conference in Toronto will start tomorrow, June 25th, and the full texts of presentations are now online at While all presentations will be of interest, here is an EPT-selection that provides information of specific relevance to developing and emerging nations:

‘Open Access in India: hopes and frustrations’, Subbiah Arunachalam

‘Issues and challenges to development of institutional repositories in academic and research institutions in Nigeria’, Gideon Emcee Christian

‘Brazilian open access initiatives: key strategies and challenges’, Sely M S Costa, Fernando C L Leite

Characteristics shared by the scientific electronic journals of Latin America and the Caribbean’, Saray Córdoba-González, Rolando Coto-Solano,

‘An overview of the development of open access journals and repositories in Mexico’, Isabel Galina, Joaquín Giménez,

‘Opening scholarship: strategies for integrating open access and open education’, Eve Gray, Melissa Hagemann, Heather Joseph, Mark Surman,

‘African universities in the knowledge economy: a collaborative approach to researchinh and promoting open communications in higher education’, Eve Gray, Marke Burke,

It is clear from these presentations that there is much work remaining to be done in terms of raising awareness about open access, addressing uncertainties and providing technical support. However, there are very encouraging signs of progress that will lead to increased adoption of OA as the benefits become recognised. It should be noted that these presentations relate to adopting in-country OA technologies and not to the very impressive usage of OA resources now taking place, and reported in this blog earlier (see March 26th 2008).

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Free but not OA for AFRICA journal

The International African Institute at the School of Oriental and African studies (SOAS: has announced that the journal Africa is to be made available free to institutions and libraries in qualifying African countries as a result of an arrangement between the International African Institute and the Edinburgh University Press.

For further information, see:

Here is what is said about the journal:

Journal of the International African Institute

The International African Institute and Edinburgh University Press are pleased to jointly announce that their flagship journal Africa. Journal of the International African Institute is henceforth to be available free of charge, in electronic format, to libraries and non-profit research and educational institutions in Africa. Africa was first published in 1928, and is in its 78th volume. It is the leading UK-based and international African studies journal that publishes on the whole of Africa, and in all disciplines of the humanities, social sciences and environmental sciences. With a core orientation towards ethnographically rich, historically informed knowledge garnered through field work, it was and remains the central platform and reference point for Africanist field studies worldwide, witnessing more recent shifts to a greater diversity of approaches and interdisciplinarity.”

It is good that this journal will be more widely available within Africa, but disappointing that the IAI is not making the journal open access and thus widening access to the global community working in the area of African studies.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A harmful headline in Nature, May 22nd 2008

A letter from Dr Gadagkar, IISc in India, published in Nature (453, 427-562, 22 May 2008) under the headline ‘Open access more harm than good in developing countries’, referred to the policy from a minority of Open Access Journals to require payment from authors, while making material free of charge to all readers. Rightly, the letter said this was damaging for authors from poorer countries. However, the author was not aware that by far the majority of OA journals (67% of journals in the Directory of OA Journals, and 83% of society published journals) make NO charge to authors. Unfortunately, the Nature headline, quoting out of context, sent the totally erroneous message that ALL OA was damaging to researchers in the developing countries.

A number of people wrote to Nature to put the record straight, but it is unfortunate that none of these letters have been accepted for publication. In order to clarify the misleading message portrayed by the headline and the misunderstanding in the content of the letter, the letter sent by three of the EPT Trustees is shown below. The letter firstly corrects the impression that all OA journals make a charge to authors, and secondly highlights the vast and growing volume of research articles now readily available to all through the interoperable OA institutional repositories. We hope this will help correct the unfortunate impression given by the headline in Nature.


As Trustees of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development working with research scientists and publishers in developing countries* for over a decade, we write to correct misunderstandings conveyed in the correspondence from Raghavendra Gadagkar (Nature, 453, 450, May 22nd, 2008).

First, the choice for researchers in the economically poor regions is not between ‘pay to publish’ versus ‘pay to read’ since by far the majority of “Gold” Open Access (OA) journals make no charge to authors whatsoever. Most are therefore free to both authors and readers. Second, the alternative “Green” route to OA for universities is to create low-cost institutional repositories (IRs) -- in which their researchers can self-archive their publications to make them freely available to all users with Internet access -- and this has already been adopted by about 1300 institutions worldwide. A growing number (44) of universities and funding organisations (including Harvard, Southampton, Liège, CERN, NIH, Wellcome Trust, 6 of the 7 UK research councils, and India’s National Institute of Technology) have already gone on to officially mandate Green OA self-archiving for all their research publications.

Usage of these resources by developing countries is now well recorded. As examples, usage of journals published in developing countries (and making no charge to authors or readers) was recorded by Bioline International as having reached 3.5 million full text downloads in 2007. Usage of research publications archived in IRs shows India, China, Brazil and South Africa among the top15 most active user-countries, and smaller developing countries to a lesser degree. Full text downloads from just one of the 1300 registered repositories showed UK:10,174; India:5,733; China:5,070; South Africa:1155. Detailed usage of 4 such IRs by 6 countries is shown in the EPT Blog.

It is clear from these small but representative examples of usage that OA has huge benefits for the progress of research in the developing world, and advances steadily.


Subbiah Arunachalam, Flat No. 1, Raagas Apts, 66 Venkatakrishna Road, Chennai 600 028, India. Tel: +91 44 2461 3224, Mobile: 97909 2941

Leslie Chan, University of Toronto, Department of Social Sciences, 1265 Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario, M1C1A4, Canada, Tel: +1 416 287 7505

Barbara Kirsop, Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, Wilmots, Elmton, Worksop, S80 4LS, UK Tel: +44 1909 724184, Mobile 07773677650


Electronic Publishing Trust for Development,

University of Otago, New Zealand,

Bioline International,

EPT Blog,

* Please note that we use the term “developing countries” for convenience while recognising its limitations.

See also other corrections:

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Free access leads to increased research

Elsevier publisher has claimed that the WHO HINARI program (of providing free access to articles made available by collaborating publishers to registered organisations in certain low income countries) leads to a significant increase in the number of publications from researchers in the qualifying countries. This claim has been criticised by a number of e-publishing experts. The conclusions were arrived at from an informal study of ISI data carried out by a person at Elsevier publishers. Critics say that ‘without knowing the methods and the data, the conclusions are meaningless. For all we know, the increase could be due largely to open access literature being increasingly available to scientists in the developing world. There are other measures of impact other than publishing in ISI indexed journals, and these may be particularly relevant to researchers from the developing world. We desperately need good research on publishing and citation patterns of researchers from developing countries to better understand the various effects of the different means of increasing access’.

Kimberly Parker, HINARI Program Manager, has since said that “with such a simple analysis it is impossible to prove HINARI alone has caused this increase.... We believe we're a contributing factor in the growth. This particular piece of research was something that came to hand; we are pleased to be able to say that we look to be a contributing factor but we can't prove it. ... “. Others have said that increased access whether through the increasing number of open access resources or through donor programs are bound to stimulate research activity, and it requires in depth studies to show whether programs such as HINARI are the sole contributors to increases in scientific activity.

Usage figures are critical to assessing the value being made of research publications, and happily those from OA resources are increasingly being monitored and made publicly available for study (see other postings to this blog). It would be good to have access to the usage figures of the UN programs (HINARI/AGORA/OARE) so that their comparative value can be assessed.

Friday, 16 May 2008

ELPUB has a special developing country session

The ELPUB2008 conference 'Open Scholarship: Authority, Community and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0' (June 25-27) has now full details online, including all abstracts from the speakers. See

There is to be a special session devoted to activities taking place in (or of importance to) developing countries, with presentations from Brazil, Bulgaria, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. These presentations will be webcast so that we may take part in this interesting session.
Details of accessing the webcast will be made available nearer the time.

This conference is being organised from the University of Toronto, the home of Bioline International ( BI now makes available on an open access basis 76 journals published in developing countries. In 2007 BI recorded 3.5 million full text downloads from these journals, showing how valuable this material is to the international scientific community.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

eIFL's Ukraine OA case study

The presentations and posters at the recent OR08 Conference at the University of Southampton, UK, are now available online at There is much valuable material relating to repositories to be found from this link.

Included in the OR08 posters was one presented by the eIFL Open Access program manager, Irina Kuchma. The title of the poster was ‘Open Repositories in Developing and Transition Countries: Results of Activities’. The text version and poster version are available from:

The poster included a case study of IR developments in the Ukraine. There are 7 pilot open access institutional repositories in the Universities and institutes of the National Academy of Science. According to this study, the Ukraine has had a law mandating open access to publicly funded research since January 2007.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

CODATA, JISC and the Guardian Newspaper

Two valuable documents have recently been made available and could be of interest to the research communities in Latin America and other developing regions:

1. The report of the CODATA meeting ( that took place last autumn, ‘Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development’, has now been compiled by the organizers Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental.

2. A special supplement of the Guardian Newspaper in association with the Joint Information Systems Committee has been published, see,,2274706,00.html. Entitled 'Libraries Unleashed', it reviews the changes taking place in libraries in the digital environment. A piece specifically about Open Access policies in universities is available from,,2275369,00.html

Friday, 18 April 2008

OA Mandates

Institutional / Funder OA Mandates

There are now over 40 mandates requiring authors to deposit articles arising from research conducted in their organisations in their institutional repositories (IRs) – see ROARmap for details of existing and agreed mandates. The number includes prestigious organisations such as the Universities of Harvard and Southampton, the NIH, the Wellcome Trust and many more. Moreover, the council of the European University Association (representing nearly 800 European universities) has unanimously recommended the establishment of interoperable institutional repositories.

In spite of this growing trend, some researchers object to being ‘mandated’ to deposit their papers. They think it will interfere with their professional independence.

I find this attitude difficult to understand. On accepting their research position, researchers are ‘required’ to carry out research; they are ‘required’ to report the outcome of their research in institutional reports and in journals of their choice. Their institutes and funders have provided the resources for the research in order to increase knowledge and they rightly wish to justify their investment and ensure the research findings are as widely known as possible. By depositing articles in their interoperable institutional repository authors are hugely increasing the distribution of knowledge to the global academic community (see, for example EPT BLog, March 26th 2008). So what’s the problem?

Those that have access already to much of the research information they need for their work may not feel there is any need to take another few minutes (because that’s all it takes) to deposit their publications in their IRs. But by deciding not to bother to do this, they are denying the 80% of the world’s researchers who live in less economically advantaged regions the means to access the research they need, to develop strong national research structures that in turn will lead to robust and independent economies. That’s the problem.

Researchers should consider an institutional or funder mandate as merely an additional small ‘requirement’ that can make a vast difference to the progress of science and the resolution of many of the world’s problems – unless of course their research is of limited value. . . .

Posted by Barbara Kirsop, Trustee and Secretary EPT