Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Refocusing on development, not citations

Eve Gray, Publishing and perishing in Africa an ethical issue?  Gray Area, March 27, 2009.  Excerpt:

...[A]s I have scanned a number of recent publications on the renewal of higher education in Africa, [I've] noted with concern the persistence of the use of counts of journal articles published in ISI journals as the standard and sometimes the only measure for the status of African research in the world. In other words, in a continent in which the goal of public investment in research is explicitly to contribute to national growth and development, the measure of success all too often applied is the production of a lot of journal articles in foreign publications targeted at other scholars in the field. This is hardly a metric that is going to tell us anything about what our scholars are really contributing to the resolution of the considerable problems that challenge the continent....

[T]he World Bank, backtracking from its damaging dismissal of [African] higher education as a funding priority in the 1980s, in 2008 published Accelerating Catch-up: Tertiary Education for Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa[1]....

What is certain is that if African universities were to provide open access for the considerable volume of publications already posted online by development research units and ensure that these are easily accessible, this in itself could boost the contribution of African universities to development goals.

1. I am not including the url to the World Bank publication, by the way, because of its confused approach to its intellectual property rights management. I would have thought that the World Bank would want its African readership, in particular, to read this publication. But, although it exists as an e-book, that version is 'available to subscribers only'. Otherwise you can buy it in print. Does the World Bank really want to make money from African countries by selling its publications, or restrict access to a text that is readily available in PDF format and costs nothing to distribute? The e-book is copyrighted with an 'all rights reserved' licence, that nevertheless states that '[t]he International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank encourages dissemination of its work and will normally grant permission to reproduce portions of the work promptly.'  Which being translated means that you need to apply  to the US Copyright Clearance Centre for permission to photocopy or reprint 'any part of this work'.  You have to either write a letter or telephone no email address available. Could someone please send an ambassador to the World Bank publisher to explain how Creative Commons licences work?