Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, November 09, 2006

OA bridging the North-South divide

Marlon, Domingus, Research Unleashed?  A presentation at the CODESRIA-ASC Conference Series 2006: Electronic Publishing and Dissemination (Leiden, September 7, 2006).  (Thanks to Stevan Harnad.)  Excerpt:

The international open access movement has reached a new level. In open access stage 1 we see a focus on technical issues related to open access and on gaining content for repositories. The words “open access” are important drivers in this stage. In stage 1, as Alma Swan [2006] points out, we see new technologies applied to existing processes (i.e. more of the same, faster and cheaper).

In stage 2 new technologies are integrated into existing processes (i.e. improve existing systems).[Swan, 2006] In stage 2 we see a focus on services based on repositories and the words “open access” have become less effective. Stage 2, I claim, is all about supporting scholarly communication and using technical infrastructure to be more efficient....

Connecting Africa is a hub for the Africanist community around the world. The open access available publications it provides access to are downloaded dosens of times a month individually. As such it is to be expected to facilitate scholarly communication in African Studies and, to my mind, is an example of open access stage 2.

The South- North divide as seen in the case of SciELO indicates that open access indeed does have an impact on usage of and citations to the oa publications. Also in the North-South perspective the same effects are to be found. Based on these examples one could hold that open access is a means to bridging the divide between North and South. It needs allies like Google and key research tools that make publications visible and available. Whether visibility and availability will diminish the Matthew effect remains to be seen.