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, (http://www.academiaciencias.cu/English_1/Working%20information/Events/talleropenaccess2008en.pdf) and the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science in Liverpool, UK, http://www1.the-ba.net/bafos/events/showevent.asp?EventID=18) 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, http://roar.eprints.org/) 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 http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/policysignup/). Moreover, in the same period the number of OA journals had increased by 242 (see Directory of Open Access Journals http://www.doaj.org/). 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

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