Sunday, July 20, 2008

Development research: Interrogating open access

The mini symposium 'interrogating open access' at the EADI General Conference in Geneva brought together a publisher, a librarian, a nuclear researcher and an advocate for open access, all chaired by the director of a research institute.

The subsequent discussions resulted in 10 clear messages on the process, options and progress towards Open Access in development research.
  1. Research backing: Over 800 research institutions have committed to Open Access. In particular the heads of research councils in Europe have signed up to a commitment to providing free access to research findings.
  2. Policy backing: Policy makers are acting with the US senate and congress making statements, the EU council and OECD but to date there is very little comment from the South.
  3. Peer reviewed journals: Peer reviewed research papers published in established journals remain the main indicator used to assess research organizations, but these journals now offer open access options. The reviewers follow the same procedure in accessing the article (being unaware whether it is open or closed access).
  4. Hybrid Journals: A journal can provide open access to an article within such a journal for between 2-3000 Euros.
  5. Citation advantage: There is a documented advantage to citation for open access articles vs closed articles.
  6. Open Access Levels: There is a metallic rainbow of open access agreements. WHITE: Publishers require copyrights and allow nothing never; YELLOW: Publishers allow open preprints; BLUE: Publishers allow postprints; GREEN: Publishers allows pre and postprints, embargo periods and reuse changes and exceptions can be negotiated; GOLD: Publishers waive copyrights (open access journals).
  7. Action: The suggestion was made that Universities and research institute members of EADI should sign the Berlin declaration followed by a policy to setup their own institutional OAI repository. (Ideally this would involve a distributed national service setup by the community with an OA project together with a group such as eIFL).
  8. Initiatives: Some organizations are demonstrating the value of open access through innovative initiatives.
  9. Concerns about cost and the politics of knowledge: Discussions focused on how the author can pay to ensure open access, how access in the south will be affected and what about print content. Does this activity privilege larger organizations and will the politics of northern knowledge become even more dominant.
  10. To be successful and to drive down costs, the true impact factors of journals need to be published. If open access journals are cited more, they will be better value for money. This matches the research funders increasing requirement to see research outputs communicated successfully.
Leo Waaijers on open access and quality control:

by Chris Addison


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