Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Report from Latin American OA conference

Dora Ann Lange Canhos and six co-authors have released a report on last year's conference, Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development (Atibaia, Brazil, May 8-10, 2007).  Excerpt:

...There is confusion about ownership and assignment of copyrights by authors and research institutions. Some publishers use copyright as a tool against the broader interests of the publicly funded research community. The exclusive assignment of authors’ copyrights to publishers blocks access and reuse of journal articles, especially through text mining and other automated knowledge extraction applications. These technological benefits from open access online need to be better exploited, while the technological barriers to such automated applications from digital rights management software need to be mitigated.

The potential economic benefits and network effects of online scientific data and information also are poorly understood and this lack of understanding undermines support for open access publishing and deposits, which would enhance the value of this material through much greater availability and use. The potential social benefits of open access are known and appreciated even less than the economic effects. Additionally, the financial sustainability of open access models needs to be better understood and addressed for the long term.

It was noted that accessing high impact-journals for research workers in the small island countries is practically impossible because neither the research institutions nor the researchers themselves can afford the journals from publishers such as the American Chemical Society, the Royal Chemical Society, Wiley, or Elsevier. The pressure on the publishers to be more responsive to these countries' needs should come from international organizations like the Inter-Academy Panel, TWAS, and ICSU.

It also is difficult in the Caribbean to develop open access repository systems because of the lack of knowledge by many educated people regarding the benefits of open access to the research community. There is also a big problem to deal with the legal practitioners who are spreading unnecessary fears among people (e.g., scientists and musicians) about losing their intellectual property rights. This can be partly remedied by organizing workshops on open access in the Caribbean Islands with the help of various international organizations....