African Digital Library Support Network (ADLSN)

ADLSN participates in British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) Online Discussion on Open Access

With the intention of sharing knowledge and expertise in open access, facilitators from a number of locations including Europe, Africa, and Asia; ADLSN took part in an open access discussion facilitated by the BLDS.

The main theme of the online discussion was framed by the expert facilitators identified from various countries on their preparatory live discussion conducted on the 19th March via an online meeting. The meeting was a panel discussion with expert speakers working in Open Access issues. The expert speakers who participated in the discussion were Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Sarai Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, India; Andrew Mwesigwa, Makerere University, Uganda; Irene Onyancha, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia; Iryna Kuchma, EIFL, Netherlands and Teklemichael T. Wordofa, ADLSN, ICADLA, Ethiopia.

Open access: where are we?

Rachel Playforth, a Repository Coordinator at the BLDS, initiated the discussion by asking participants to share their experiences and assessment of open access issues including the successes, challenges, and lessons learned. While addressing these issues, panelists were also asked to cover important open access topics such as, context-specific benefits/challenges, considerations when formulating an open access policy in an institution, strategies for engaging with researchers, tension between access to and production of research, benefits of depositing in different places, dissemination strategies, and quality metrics.

Panelists then discussed these aforementioned issues based on their experience and circumstances. Overall, there was a consensus that the open access movement is successful in making research information accessible by breaking the financial barrier. However, network infrastructure in some part of the world still remains to be a challenge. The green route has been hailed as a good means in making content accessible from the South. Examples of institutional repositories from Africa and Asia were mentioned by the experts. Lack of viable incentive mechanism and consequently researcher’s reluctance to submit their articles to the institutional repository was also discussed. The journals’ article processing fees, and tenure and promotional policies of different institutions are still seen as other impediments for the staff to publish in open access journals.

While the green route to open access has been identified as the best alternative to make content accessible from Africa, the existing infrastructural challenge has been discussed. In connection with this, the effort being exerted by BLDS, EIFL, and the others have been highlighted.

The ADLSN’s Central hosting platform (ADLC)

Mr Teklemichael, the ADLSN Vice President, participated in the discussions and the ADLSN’s Central hosting platform was mentioned as part of the solution to help institutions that have content ready for open access, but are unable to make them accessible because of infrastructure problems.

See the ADLSN’s Central hosting platform in action:

The online discussion on the 25th March was led by both the expert facilitators working in Open Access and the local facilitators while the 26th March discussion was facilitated by local coordinators based at various regions including Africa and Asia. Both discussions were conducted in the Chat Literacy discussion room,led by Emma Greengrass, Chat Literacy Coordinator, BLDS, with participation of the forum members’.

Summary of the discussions will follow.

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