Wednesday, 29 December 2010

An OA declaration from Southern Europe - the Alhambra Declaration

Following a workshop that took place in May 2010 in Granada, Spain, the Alhambra Declaration on Open Access was announced. The aim of the declaration is to develop an action plan for Open Access in southern Europe. For the full text of the declaration, see here.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Open Access in Africa - a conference organised by BioMedCentral

A valuable conference was organised recently by BMC, titled Open Access Africa. There is now an excellent web site available from which all presentations may be viewed, see here . Presentations range from overviews of OA in Africa to OA-experiences of individual organisations, both publishers and university repositories. Note also, the presentations by EPT colleagues, Daisy Ouya and Eve Gray.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean countries make an OA Declaration at a NECOBELAC workshop

On November 11th 2010, the participants of the NECOBELAC project worksop, held in Bogota, commited themselves to the following objectives:

1. Promote the drawing up and enforcement of public policies in favour of the unlimited availability of scientific output.

2. Promote and support the quality of scientific writing.

3 Promote Open Access to scientific output in their Nations.
Participants on the NECOBELAC training course commited themselves to replicating the training experience in the institutions of their countries and to providing advice and tools to achieve the above mentioned objectives.
For the full Declaration and details of participating cuntries and organisations, see the Declaration (in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English): 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A new OA tool on the way – mapping OA around the world!

Just released at the Berlin8 Conference in Beijing is news of a valuable new OA tool, being developed by the OASIS team, and supported by the Open Society Foundation.

It is now very clear that there is such a rollercoast of OA activities happening around the world that we are all in danger of losing track of each other, re-inventing wheels, not being aware of specialised OA experts, missing out on possible partnerships - - -

Happily the OASIS people are ahead of us and have already set in motion the development of an OA Map. This not only logs, links and maps all OA activities (IRs, journals, software, policies . . . ), but will also provide a dynamic timeline of OA progress that will not only be an invaluable historical reference, but additionally an advocacy tool.

Bookmark the OA Map page, here and watch the short video that explains the project and invites all OA initiatives to make contact so that they can be put on the map. 

Make sure your initiative is on the OA Map!


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Some of the brilliant highlights of Open Access Week

For the EPT and others working with researchers in developing countries, the highlight of OA Week has to be the astonisihing list of activities that took place throughout the EIFL partnership countries. There is such a lot happening in these regions - but so also in the rest of the world.

Especially exciting was the growth in the adoption of OA mandates during OA Week- see here. Eleven new mandates were put in place during OA week alone, requiring deposit of published research in their institute's repository - from Arizona to Wageningen OA marches on..

And the Eprints team made available a very enjoyable and interesting rotating global map of new Institutional Repositories. By clicking here, the site highlights new IRs around the world, providing a brief description (often in the language of the IR country) and a link to the IR. This is an eye-opening panorama of the research that is now available for free to all. Although said to be 'temporary', it is to be hoped that this resource can become permanent as it is a strong advocacy tool for OA. Make a cup of coffeee, click on the link and sit back and enjoy an IR-trail around the world!

And the work continues . . . The Berlin8 Conference in Beijing is underway this week, with many presentations, posters and videos, - and organisations are consolidating the work they put in place last week - and the EPT continues to collect 'OA stories' A new posting from the Italian Volcanology and Geophysics oganisation was added today, the recent Indonesian earthquake highlihting the need for free global exchange.of essential information.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Open Access Week 2010 - EPT's collection of your OA stories

Open Access Week is here! As a contribution to the festivities, the EPT has been collecting and harvesting stories and short reports, and making links to blogs and videos that provide insight into the way the Open Access developments have affected research and researchers around the world.

This is an on-going activity and we will continue to add new stories to the 'OA Stories' page on the EPT web site. To link direct to the stories click here.

Please continue to send short stories to ept@biostrat.demon.co.uk. Sometimes individual experiences make a greater impact on people's understanding of Open Access than would a presentation or article.

Sincere thanks to all who have contributed so far - your stories will stay in people's minds!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Open Access position with UNESCO

Colleagues, there is an Open Access consultancy post now available at UNESCO in Paris. See announcement below:

Dear Open Access colleagues,

The overarching objective of UNESCO is to build inclusive knowledge societies and we have identified Open Access (OA) to scientific information as a key implementation strategy. Our programme is highlighted here.

We are urgently looking to engage a highly skilled and experienced Open Access expert as a temporary consultant to advance our 2010 - 2011 Workplan. A Brief Terms of Reference (TOR) is provided below and the Extended TOR will be provided on request.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could please recommend possible candidates including their e-mail address or (mobile) phone number, and if you could forward this message to your OA networks.

We look forward to hearing from you, please reply all.

Regards,
Abel Caine (a.caine@unesco.org)

ICT in Education, Science and Culture Section
Information Society Division
Communication and Information (CI) Sector
UNESCO

==============================


The UNESCO Communication and Information (CI) Sector is looking to urgently engage a temporary consultant with high levels of skills and experience in the area of Open Access (OA) to scientific information.






Tuesday, 14 September 2010

An ethical issue for research authors

Here is a powerful comment on the recent announcement by a number of publishers to make their publications free for a limited period to readers in areas suffering from natural disasters. Dr Neil Pakenham Walsh (co-Director of the Global Health Information Network and the respected coordinator of the Health Information for All Network – HIFA2015) welcomes the move, but also queries the ethical reasons for restricting access to essential information. He refers to health information, but the argument can be extended to research publications and data necessary for overcoming all global problems – in climate change, agriculture, clean energy developments and so on.

This is not the problem of publishers who have a right to run their businesses on a fair commercial basis, but it is the problem of researchers themselves - those that without financial reward provide the information for the publishers. Authors should recognise that they have an ethical as well as a self-advancing reason for making their research knowledge available free to all. They should ask themselves whether their research findings are important to other researchers around the world for the advancement of science. If the answer is ‘Yes’, they can instantly remedy the situation (without cost, and while continuing to publish in their chosen journal, whether open access or not) by archiving a copy of their refereed and accepted article in an open access repository. See OASIS for all information related to open access and how it works for the research community.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Neil Pakenham-Walsh"
To: "HIFA2015 - Healthcare Information For All by 2015"

Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 1:00 PM
Subject: [HIFA2015] Forward: [DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB ] Full-text material for
Pakistan


> Dear HIFA2015 colleagues,

The message below is forwarded from the email forum [DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB ]. I think this move by restricted-access journals - to open access for a few weeks in response to major disasters - is welcome. *But* it also raises interesting moral and ethical questions about the status quo: the world's scholarly journals and other knowledge
resource continue to be mainly restricted-access, while the silent and ongoing disaster continues: tens of thousands of people dying unnecessarily each day in developing countries - while policymakers, healthcare providers, and citizens lack access to the information they need to support policymaking, health care, and the capacity to make vital decisions for themselves and their loved ones.

Best wishes,
Neil

> HIFA2015 profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA2015
> campaign and co-director of the Global Healthcare Information Network. He
> started his career as a hospital doctor in the UK, and has clinical
> experience in rural Ecuador and Peru. For the last 20 years he has been
> committed to improving the availability of healthcare information for
> health workers in developing countries. He has worked with the World
> Health Organization, the Wellcome Trust, Medicine Digest and INASP
> (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications).
> www.hifa2015.org neil.pakenham-walsh AT ghi-net.org

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Portuguese-speakers have an OA Blog


Professor Helio Kuramoto, working until recently with IBICT in Brazil, maintains a valuable Open Access Blog, see here. Kuramoto has been instrumental in working towards an OA mandate in Brazil and in introducing and distributing software packages for setting up Institutional Repositories in the country.

A comprehensive introductory Powerpoint presentation on the benefits and mechanisms of introducing OA is provided in a link from the blog, see 'Ciencia abierta Un desafio regional'.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Good advice from Mozambique

“We are always getting information about Mozambique from outside. Why can’t people have information about Mozambique from Mozambique?” asked Aissa Mitha Issak, Librarian at the Universidade Pedagógica and EIFL Open Access Coordinator. “The lack of visibility for African research is frustrating”. She was speaking at the recent IFLA Gothenburg conference, at which she received the Henning Mankell Conference Grant, 2010. On the advice of Iryna Kutchma, EIFL OA-programme manager, a shared repository has been set up, linking several organisations. Aissa described the shared Mozambique Institutional Repository, launched at the end of 2009 and now holding 2,234 items of research, including theses and journal articles.

Advice for others starting up a repository? “Just do it!”, says Aissa. “Our first approach in 2006 was to make a formal proposal to university management. This strategy didn’t work, because they needed to see the repository to understand its value”. The potential is now recognised and a committee has even been established to re-evaluate students’ work. Identifying IR champions to help advocate to university management and faculty is also an important factor for success.

Congratulations to all in Mozambique who have worked to achieve this valuable resource. And congratulations to EIFL for their continuing support and advice. Link here for the full report.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Calling all OA authors!!


OA week approaches! Tell your OA stories to EPT!

As our contribution to OA Week, please re-read our request for OA stories posted in April. We have already received some interesting answers to this request, but we know you have more stories to tell! We will compile your stories into an ‘OA-week story book’.

Here are some questions to stimulate you:

• Has your article been requested by more people since it was made OA?
• Have you made contact with other researchers in your field as a result of OA?
• Did you get an invitation to speak at a conference as a result of OA?
• Have you been able to agree new research partnerships as a result of higher global visibility of your publications?
• Do you access OA repositories to check progress in your field?
• Does your head of department/head of institute encourage you to make all your publications OA? If so, what reason did she/he give for that?
• Has your institute/university department climbed up the ranking level by becoming ‘internationally recognised’ through OA?
• Has your OA repository now been filled with all your organisations’ research output and do your colleagues find this useful? Useful for what purpose (we already have a lovely story from India about unusual IR usage!)?
• Has your OA repository got a statistics facility that records how your articles are being accessed from around the world? Who has the top access/download level? Was it you?!
• Has your OA journal improved its publishing frequency/full text downloads/impact factor rating/sales of hard copy through increased OA visibility?

A short piece is all we need - one or two sentences or a short paragraph will be enough to help tell other non-OA authors what they are missing!

Tell your colleagues we are waiting to hear about and share their OA-experiences!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Rich OA material from two meetings in Sweden

Two important OA meetings took place between August 6 -12th, 2010, in Sweden.

The first was the 2010 General Assembly of EIFL.


The programme of the EIFL meeting is available here.[The presentations are all available from the very bottom of this web page, below the programme. Don’t miss them!]

I intended to highlight presentations most likely to be of interest to EPT Blog readers, but this is not possible as there is such a very rich programme of material. But do not miss Iryna Kutchma’s (EIFL) presentation on plans for OA Week, or those of EPT Trustee Leslie Chan on the Bioline International service, or an important report of the openAIRE programme (in which all publications from the EU’s FP7 research programmes are mandated to be made OA), or an important presentation from Alma Swan on the economics of OA, or reports from Ukraine, Zambia, Nepal, or . . .

The second meeting was a satellite IFLA meeting on ‘Open Access and the changing role of libraries’

This meeting had an equally rich programme and this and the presentations are available from here [The presentations are available down the right hand side of the web page.]

Again, there is a wealth of important material both for libraries and researchers. But don’t miss Professor Tom Cochrane’s report on experiences of OA at the Queensland University of Technology - the impact of OA on authors shown here is awesome!

Happy reading!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

UNESCO supports Open Access

A recent announcement from UNESCO, and made available by EPT Trustee Daisy Ouya (currently working with UNESCO in Paris), said: "UNESCO promotes and supports Open Access — the online availability of scholarly information to everyone, free of most licensing and copyright barriers — for the benefit of global knowledge flow, innovation and socio-economic development." It further stated, "Scientific information is both a researcher’s greatest output and technological innovation’s most important resource."

Not only is UNESCO supporting OA, but promoting it too. This is a most valuable development as UNESCO has the outreach power to inform and support researchers in all regions of the world, and particularly those in economically constrained countries. It is much to be hoped that this announcement will encourage other inernational organisations to adopt a similar approach in their support of the free exchange of essential research information. In practice, it must be hoped that UNESCO's programmes will focus on the development of low cost Institutional Repositories in research centres as these can archive and make available articles arising from the institution's support, thus providing international visibility for its research and ensuring its incorporation in the global knowledge base.

For further information, see here.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Friday, 9 July 2010

Steady progress of IRs in developing countries

A valuable report on progress in establishing open access institutional repositories in developing and transition nations has been published in the recent eIFL Newsletter. For the full report, see here, or follow the links from the eIFL Newsletter shown on the right hand toolbar. A summary from the report is attached below, followed by a few general comments and conclusions provided by EPT.

Report on Open Repository Development in Developing and Transition countries

The aim of the study was to create an inventory of current digital repository activities in developing and transition countries at both the infrastructure and services level. The study was conducted with the cooperation of eIFL.net, the University of Kansas Libraries, the DRIVER project and Key Perspectives Ltd.
Over the course of six months, 49 repositories from 20 countries on three continents participated in this survey. The following countries are represented: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Namibia, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Taiwan, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

As of May 20, 2010, The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) lists 277 repositories from these 20 countries (> half are from Brazil, India and Taiwan). Note: the repositories responding to this survey are not all listed in the ROAR database.

The main findings were:

• 66% of responding institutions maintain a digital repository for research output, and 15% maintain more than one digital repository for research output.

• Visibility, access, and preservation were the most important motivations cited by participating institutions to establish a repository.

• The responses show an increasing rate of growth of repositories over the last several years, and indicate that these repositories are for the most part very new services.

• Libraries play a major role in advocating and maintaining repositories.

• Theses and dissertations are the most common type of material in the responding institutions' repositories. Other common material includes full-text of research articles as peer-reviewed postprints, journals published from the institution, and conference papers.

• The majority of participating institutions (56%) stated that less than 25% of the researchers or faculty members at their institutions have deposited material in the repository. One institute recorded 100% deposit rate – this institute has an OA deposit mandate.

• About two-thirds of the participating institutions use some form of mediated deposit in which staff members or librarians are directly involved in the deposit of materials into the repository.

• DSpace is the most common software package, used by 57% of participating institutions.

• More than one third of participating institutions (38%) do not have any official policy with regard to depositing material. In others there may be some partial requirement or encouragement.

• The following services were listed in order of priority for further development: general search engines, preservation services, open access advocacy, disciplinary services, citation index services, usage statistics services, cataloguing services, deposit, publishing and printing services, repository hosting services.

***
EPT Comments: This report shows an encouraging start to the process of making developing country research more widely available. Most of the IRs are new, but the rate of increase is strong. [A check in the ROAR database on July 10th 2010 shows the total number of IRs from these 20 countries is now 315, an increase of 38 in 6 weeks; the total increase is likely to be greater than this as not all IRs are registered in ROAR].

It is clear that where an OA deposit mandate is in place, the rate of deposit is very good, confirming reported trends globally. The greatest benefit is seen by the respondents to be an increase in the visibility of institutional research. The value of OA IRs to increase citations and as a tool for administrative and promotional purposes is currently seen as of lower importance compared with the overriding need to transform poorly-known local research into a global resource. This report indicates that OA IRs are seen as a means to level the playing field in research communication.

A broader check in the ROAR database on the same date, including all developing countries, shows that in total there are 441 OA IRs now established in developing countries. This is ~ 25% of the total of ~1800 to date. Considering the more restricted resources available in these regions, this shows a growing understanding of the benefits OA can provide in strengthening research in the developing world.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Access to agriculture and food science is urgent: CGIAR can help

There is a clear and urgent need to ensure free access to all research findings relating to agriculture and food science. It is on these discoveries that the well-being of the poorest people ultimately depends. It was with interest, therefore, that I came across an item on the Web titled, ‘Cheap dipstick can detect foot and mouth’, as it seemed a valuable development with the potential for immediate impact in developing regions. I found the reference on the SciDevNews website (see here) and clicked on the link to the full text. But this was available only on payment of a subscription.

Now that open science and open access to research findings is becoming mainstream, how is it that such information still remains behind barriers that prohibit access by those most in need?

Then by email came a timely letter that was to be sent to the CGIAR organisation encouraging with some urgency that its constituent organisations make all their publications freely available to all through open access. My fellow EPT Trustee, Professor Subbiah Arunachalam, had drafted the message reproduced below and was inviting colleagues prominent in the development of open access to add their names to the letter.

This was an immediate antidote to the irritation I had felt on being blocked a moment before. The message has now been sent to the CGIAR administration for their consideration and it is the fervent hope of its authors that the organisation will consider the purpose for which the CGIAR was originally set up and take steps to implement the recommendations in the letter, namely to join the growing body of prestigious organisations that have mandated open access distribution for all the research publications arising from their funding.

Here is the letter, and EPT urges all CGIAR partners to follow the lead of ICRISAT (see here) and begin the process of making their funded research globally available free of cost. CGIAR’s stated vision is ‘to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership’. By requiring open access to this research, they will be taking an essential and immediately achievable step towards realizing their aim.

“Dear Dr Carlos Perez del Castillo/ Dr Kathy Sierra:

About a year ago, on 20 May 2009 to be precise, Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT sent a Memorandum on Launching of Open Access Model: Digital Access to ICRISAT Scientific Publications to all researchers and students in all locations of ICRISAT [http://openaccess.icrisat.org/MemoOnDAIS.pdf]. In the memorandum Dr Dar had said "Every ICRISAT scientist/author in all locations, laboratories and offices will send a PDF copy of the author's final version of a paper immediately upon receipt of communication from the publisher about its acceptance. This is not the final published version that certain journals provide post-print, but normally the version that is submitted following all reviews and just prior to the page proof."

ICRISAT is the only international agricultural research centre with an OA mandate, and is second among the research and education institutes operating from India, the first being the National Institute of Technology-Rourkela (http://dspace.nitrkl.ac.in/dspace/). ICRISAT publishes a research journal (http://www.icrisat.org/journal/) which is also an open access journal.

Since then is growing fast and the portal now has virtually all the research papers published in recent times, and all the books and learning material produced by ICRISAT researchers.

We believe that it would be great if other CGIAR laboratories could also mandate open access to their research publications. Indeed, it would be a good idea to have a system wide Open Access mandate for CGIAR and to have interoperable OA repositories in each CGIAR laboratory. Such a development would provide a high level of visibility for the work of CGIAR and greatly advance agricultural research. Besides, journals published by CGIAR labs could also be made OA. There are more than 1,500 OA repositories (listed in ROAR and OpenDOAR) and about 5,000 journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Currently over 2050 journals are searchable at article level. Over 390,000 articles are included in the DOAJ service.

The world will soon be celebrating the International Open Access Week [18-24 October 2010] and you may wish to announce the CGIAR OA mandate before then.

As you may be aware, all seven Research Councils of the UK and the National Institutes of Health, USA, have such a mandate in place for research they fund and support. To see the full list of ~220 mandates worldwide, see .

We look forward to seeing an early implementation of open access in all CGIAR labs.

Sincerely,
- Subbiah Arunachalam [Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India]
- Remi Barre [Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (CNAM), Paris, France]
- Leslie Chan [University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada]
- Anriette Esterhuysen [Association for Progressive Communications, Johannesburg, South Africa]
- Jean-Claude Guédon [University of Montreal, Canada]
- Stevan Harnad [Universite du Quebec a Montreal and University of Southampton]
- Neil Jacobs [JISC, UK]
- Heather Joseph [Executive Director, SPARC, USA]
- Barbara Kirsop [Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, UK]
- Heather Morrison [University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada]
- Richard Poynder [Technology journalist, UK]
- T V Ramakrishnan, FRS [Banaras Hindu University and Indian Institute of Science; Former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences]
- Peter Suber [Berkman Fellow, Harvard University; Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College; Senior Researcher, SPARC; Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge]
- Alma Swan [Director, Key Perspectives, UK]
- John Wilbanks [Vice President for Science, Creative commons]
- John Willinsky [Stanford University and University of British Columbia]”

Friday, 30 April 2010

Please send us your OA stories as your contribution to OA week!


Open Access Week will hit the research communities worldwide from October 18th – 24th, 2010! Here is the OA Week web site that will tell you what is going to happen and what you can do to help.

To spread information to developing and emerging regions on the value of OA to research and economic development we need to make a lot of noise this week. We need to tell others how free access to research, or distribution of their own research through OA, has changed their work or their career for the better.

Here is a request: can you send EPT any stories you can share that show how OA has advanced your work. Has it lead to new contacts? Has it lead to new research partnerships and publications? Has it made you think about the importance of getting your research findings into the global community to help resolve global problems? Has it helped your own career? Has it put your organisation on the global map?

Please tell EPT about any developments that have been brought about by your knowledge or participation in Open Access. Send your stories (no more than 300 words please) to EPT. You can also add short experiences as a Comment to this Blog. We will collate the best stories and make them widely known so that others will be encouraged.

Write to us with your OA-stories and help the progress of research!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

FRPAA - another small step for mankind?

A letter of support for the FRPAA bill from the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, April 20th 2010

"To whom it may concern:

The reintroduction of the Federal Research Public Access bill, that would ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies, is a very hopeful development for the vast majority of researchers working in the economically disadvantaged regions of the world. Research institutes operating in developing countries are greatly restricted by their inability to access current research.

Yet we now understand that the major global problems waiting to be addressed and solved through research – climate change and environmental protection; infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, avian and human influenza; agriculture and food science for example - all require international knowledge and collaboration. The free exchange of research findings is critical to resolving the many problems facing mankind.

The increasing awareness and adoption of ‘openness’ in the United States and elsewhere is a hugely promising stance. In research publishing, the Open Access movement is advancing strongly and the introduction of the NIH Public Access Policy mandate, together with those adopted by all UK research councils, the Wellcome Trust and over 200 other major research organisations, including Harvard and MIT (see ROARMAP for a full list) is testament to the natural practice that scientists follow in sharing their findings. This ‘openness’ is mirrored in a number of developing country initiatives (for example in India, the CSIR government agency is successfully running an Open Source Drug Discovery programme), since it not only has benefits for the progress of research, but also demonstrates the research strengths of organisations and has been shown to lead to real economic benefits for countries (see 'The economic implications of alternative publishing models') .

The Electronic Publishing Trust for Development is an international Trust, registered in the UK, that has been working for over a decade to support the free exchange of research findings, not only between developed and developing country researchers, but also by raising the visibility of unique research emanating from the regions where the problems are most keenly experienced. We therefore greatly welcome the reintroduction of the FRPAA bill and know that its adoption would vastly enhance research progress throughout the world.

Barbara Kirsop, Trustee/Secretary
On behalf of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development
http://www.epublishingtrust.org.uk
Registered Charity Number 1059867"

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Good news for agriculture

The following announcement was made by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research:

"ICAR Journals in Open Access

ICAR has decided to allow open access to its research journals online for the benefit of students, researchers and farmers for free nationally and internationally. The journals namely, Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences and Indian Journal of Animal Sciences are published monthly by ICAR. The journals will be accessible from the ICAR website from March 2010 onwards.
The Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences

* Vol 80, No. 4 April 2010
* Vol 80, No. 3 March 2010

The Indian Journal of Animal Sciences

* Vol 80, No. 4 April 2010
* Vol 80, No. 3 March 2010

* News"

Monday, 29 March 2010

Invisible research: a Kenyan story

A video made by Leslie Chan (Bioline International) of the work of horticulture Professor Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, highlights the continuing problems faced by researchers in the developing world in making their findings available to the global research community. Open access has provided a solution to her publication problems.

There are many such examples of research where open access provides a solution to the current invisibility of valuable findings. See 'Eyes wide shut' below for more on this.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Eyes wide shut?

A debate is underway among the proponents and gainsayers of open access about the reality of whether OA leads to more citations. I am not over-concerned with citations as they are not the sole indicators of the usage of research output. As one of the contributors has said, there is an ‘invisible college’ within which data, methodology, ideas are shared among researchers via conferences, coffee-breaks, workshops, emails, reports, social networking and other communication devices. While this ‘college’ informs, it is seldom cited.

Another statement made in these exchanges was that ‘open access is a solution looking for a problem’. This stopped me in my tracks, since over the last decade, evidence has been accumulating showing the high level of information imbalance and paucity, especially - but by no means only - in the developing world. And it was for this reason that the EPT and many other initiatives were formed to help resolve the problem. It is indisputable that access to all necessary research findings had not been met in pre-web days. Researchers, we had a problem.

And there is now abundant proof that when publications are made available free of charge, full text downloads are very great indeed. As examples, recent usage of material from the institutional repository of the Universidad de los Andes (ULA), Venezuela, showed 1,404,423 full text downloads in 2009 (most usage from Latin American countries, but approximately a third from the USA). Similarly, usage of journals published in developing countries, and made available through the Bioline International platform, shows full text downloads for 2009 of 4,403,047 (figures adjusted to eliminate web crawlers and robots), usage recorded from both developed and developing country users, making these previously non-OA near-invisible publications international in reach.

Similar high usage figures are replicated by many institutional repositories and open access journals (such as those made available through SciELO), as has been reported many times in this blog. Researchers, particularly in low-bandwidth regions, do not download full text articles unless they need them.

The argument that current research communication meets the needs of international science is quite evidently unsustainable, and the research communities worldwide are vigorously adopting new mechanisms for sharing publications and data. View the global, multilingual work of the eIFL network (see side-bar) for more evidence of the multi-institutional effort being put into circumnavigating knowledge-barriers. The need for reform has long been accepted, but if there is anyone left that still feels there has been and remains no research communication problem it must be a case of ‘eyes wide shut and ears soundproofed’ (Ted Hughes). OA is a well-advanced solution to a well-known problem.

*For information on ULA, Venzuela, see http://epublishingtrust.blogspot.com/2009/12/venezuelas-technology-mecca.html
* For information on Bioline International, see http://www.bioline.org.br

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Bookmark this infoKit!

If you want to set up a Digital Repository at your institute/university that will promote your scholarly output and enable global sharing of research information, look no further than this comprehensive new toolkit, prepared by collaborators within the UK-based Joint Information Systems Committee family. Known as the Digital Repositories infoKit, it provides a vast amount of information, links and advice. It states:

“The Digital Repositories infoKit is a practical 'how to' guide to setting up and running digital repositories. The kit contains information on a broad range of topics running from the initial idea of a digital repository and the planning process, via detailed sections on repository set up and promotion, through to the maintenance and ongoing management of the repository. The main focus is on institutional repositories and the kit reflects current repository community best practice.

This resource has been written for repository administrators. It assumes no prior knowledge of repository matters and, more importantly, assumes no prior technical knowledge. The kit can be used by anyone who needs an introduction to any of the topics covered.”

Congratulations to JISC and its many collaborators for providing this immensely valuable resource, prepared by experts for the benefit of research.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

OA in Kenya

. An important workshop, titled ‘Open Access and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment’ has been held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Organised by the Kenyan Libraries and Information Services Consortium, Bioline International and eIFL.net, the workshop’s objective was to discuss how open access can maximise the visibility of research publications and improve the quality, impact and influence of research. Some of the questions discussed were:

- How to disseminate research results in the most efficient way?
- How to showcase the quality of research in universities and research institutions?
- What are the new tools to better measure and manage research in such institutions?
- How to collect and curate the digital outputs?
- How to generate new knowledge from existing findings, enable and encourage collaboration?
- How to bring savings to the higher education sector and better returns on investment?
- What are the key functions for research libraries?

Open access, as a viable solution to existing problems in scholarly communication, is now being debated by governments and publishers and mandated by funding bodies and universities throughout the world. The considerable economic, social and educational benefits to making research outputs available without financial, legal and technical barriers to access, and strategies for collective advocacy of open access to research results, were discussed. Practical sessions included case studies on successful management of open repositories and open access journals, training on how to start, and the best approaches to collaborative promotion of research outputs.

EPT Trustee and associate director of Bioline International, Leslie Chan, was a major contributor and fellow-Trustee, Daisy Ouya, was also present. There are currently 20 African bioscience journals available on an open access basis via Bioline, and 31 African open access institutional repositories, 20 of which are in South Africa.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Happy Birthday to BOAI on Valentine's Day!


February 14th 2002 was the day on which the Budapest Open Access Initiative was signed. It was the day the possibility of a level playing field for access to published research literature took a big step foreward.

Much has happened since then. For the best review of recent OA events, read Peter Suber's piece, reported here. For those new to Open Access, the Open Society Institute supported website,OASIS is a great place to find out everything about OA.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

OAIster returns

The good news this week is that the OAIster search service, recently moved to WorldCat, is now available once more as a search facility dedicated to OA articles because of the OAI-PMH international protocol associated with all OA material.
Here's the link.

Bookmark this, and use it to locate any OA articles in OA journals or in the >1600 OA repositories.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The OA-Butterfly Effect



We talk a lot about the importance of sharing publicly funded research, but those working with the under-resourced countries sometimes get frustrated by the never-ending discussions between researchers in the more privileged countries about OA this and OA that, when all we urgently want is OA now.

So I felt a sense of familiarity as I was watching an excellent BBC TV documentary on January 16th, ‘The Secret Life of Chaos’. The presenter, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, reported that a remarkable Russian mathematician and chemist, Boris Belousov (above), had discovered an oscillating chemical reaction (but had been repeatedly rejected publication of his results and was accused of dishonesty). At the same time, Alan Turing was developing the mathematical theories that lead to modelling and computing and ultimately the chaos theory – now commonly referred to by the butterfly effect metaphor. The BBC programme suggested that had Belousov been able to meet and work with Turing, the understanding and applications of the chaos theory could have been advanced spectacularly. And Turing could have vindicated Belousov’s findings. But what would have been a natural and productive cooperation could not take place because of Cold War embargoes.

As I began to get lost in string, rope and chaos theories, my mind suddenly switched to the old question - what were current research communication embargoes doing to retard research progress? What would be the consequence of just a single butterfly wing-flap in, say, Sweden on some new medical development in Peru?

We can never know, but happily the progress of open access is gathering speed - and bravo Italy for providing the news yesterday that 13 of their universities had set up OA repositories and associated mandates for a variety of scholarly output! This brings the total of institutional/funder/departmental/theses mandates to 195 and the number of institutional repositories to 1564. When we can stop counting and when there are no embargoes left to block the exchange of research findings – then the research community can focus its energy on OA this and OA that. We just need OA first.

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

QMed Knowledge Foundation selects EPT paper as 'Article of the Month'

The QMed Knowledge Foundation, a Trust based in Mumbai, India, has as its mission, "To enable healthcare professionals and institutions in India to exploit the power of technology to get and produce the best of medical information for better patient care and preventive health services."

It recently issued its latest newsletter in which their ‘Article of the Month’ was reported as:

“The chain of communication in health science: from researcher to health worker through open access: Open Medicine 2009 3:111-119, Chan L(1), Arunachalam S(1), Kirsop B(1). The article focuses on the big gap between the large sums of money being spent on health research and the outcome that is expected (better health of people). One of the major reasons for this gap is inadequate access to peer reviewed evidence based research. The article discusses the progress of "Open Access" and future directions. We would add that along with access, training in searching information resources requires major attention. Otherwise it will be akin to having a gigantic library and not knowing how to identify the best resources in it!”

(1) EPT Trustees

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A New Year's present

Peter Suber's January 2010 Open Access Newsletter provides a comprehensive and wonderfully encouraging report on all open access events throughout 2009. This is not only the best present we could wish for, but it provides all those working towards the free and open access to research findings with a promise of exciting developments in 2010. Things are at last looking up for the research communities in developing countries.

Follow the progress of open access in OAN by clicking here.