At Akada Network, we are convinced that Open Access provides numerous benefits to Science in general and to Research and Higher Education in Africa in particular. We spoke to the research and publishing network ScienceOpen about their view and approach to advance Open Science globally.
By Liz Allen, VP of Marketing at ScienceOpen.
Open Access (OA) to scholarly research is an important force for global change because it helps to level the playing field of knowledge by making academic information freely accessible to read and re-use to everyone, wherever they are based.
Given the challenges that face the global research community, it appears easy to agree with the statement that emerged from a survey by the OA journal Malaria World that “lack of access is both unethical and costs lives”.
Naturally, the internet is a pre-requisite to reach OA content and this is by no means guaranteed given the still relatively low penetration of online technology in many parts of the world. It’s important to acknowledge however that emerging nations are rapidly catching up with their higher GDP per capita counterparts, as the Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Survey 2013 outlines .
Looking at what percentage of the world’s literature on diseases such as Ebola and Malaria is currently closed access versus open access using PubMed gradual progress becomes obvious. For Malaria research, there are over 72,000 articles available with free full text access to over 24,000 – about 30%. For publications on Ebola studies, there are over 2,700 articles of which over 1,100 or about 40% are available with open access. However, many practitioners and activists within the OA community won’t rest until all research is published right away without limitations.
ScienceOpen – the research + Open Access publishing network.
Together with other OA advocates, ScienceOpen strives to democratize scholarly publishing by creating a more inclusive global research dialogue, for example:
- Nearly all Publishers that only offer Open Access, whether for- or not-for-profit, have a fee waiver scheme in place whereby those that demonstrate financial need from low and middle income countries or from less well funded disciplines can receive a full or partial fee waiver. Many of these schemes have country eligibility based on the countries covered by HINARI, the Access to Research in Health Programme set up by WHO and major publishers to provide health institutions with access to over 13,000 journals. Link to SO fee waiver: about.scienceopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WaiverApplicationForm.pdf
- OA Article-Publication charges are becoming more reasonable.
ScienceOpen publishes articles that pass our general publication requirements within about a week from submission for US$ 800.
Post-Publication Peer Review, such as that offered by ScienceOpen to researchers with five or more peer-reviewed publications on their ORCID, offers more opportunities to participate in the global research debate and raise the profile of African scientists.
Link to SO post-publication peer review programme: about.scienceopen.com/peer-review-guidelines/
- ScienceOpen has aggregated over 1.4 million articles from the Open Access subset of PubMed Central and arXiv. Free online tools allow “Community Editors” to curate existing articles into Collections or “mini-journals” and if they wish call for more articles where gaps in the content exist. Stipends of US$1,500 are available for those appointed to these roles.
The internet is ideally suited to solving the world’s most intractable problems because geographic boundaries are far less visible and relevant online. In a web empowered by Open Access, researchers can share their research and learn from that of others. Open Access, together with reasonable internet connectivity, seems like THE opportunity for the southern hemisphere to play their part more significantly. Internet-enabled mobile devices are increasingly used in this region and mobile penetration particularly across Africa is growing quickly .
In a web empowered by Open Access researchers can share their results and learn from those of others from every corner of the globe. The sum total of our collective global wisdom will move research forwards faster and that is the ultimate goal for all of us.
 BMC OA Africa Conference in 2012, The effects of making information available and the power of scientific communities, Tom Olijhoek, Scientific Advisor on research of Tropical Diseases.  pewglobal.org/2014/02/13/emerging-nations-embrace-internet-mobile-technology/  theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/05/internet-use-mobile-phones-africa-predicted-increase-20-fold