Monday, 21 July 2008

Important July 2008 developments

[1] A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Indian Association of Universities and the Association of Netherlands Universities which includes the statement (under the heading ‘Access to publications’) that ‘The Parties will promote among their members open access to scientific and scholarly publications.’

The full text may be viewed from:

[2] Full text downloads of papers presented at ELPUB Conference, June 2008 can be accessed from

[3] Full text downloads and video's of presentations at the recent ICTP workshop in Trieste, ' Open Access models for science dissemination' can be accessed from

Note: EPT Trustee Leslie Chan was the organizer of the ELPUB Conference in Toronto, and played a major role in the Trieste workshop.

[4] On July 17th, Canada’s National research Council announced its Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate, National Research Council. There are now 49 mandates adopted by research organisations and 12 more proposed. See ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies).

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Nature headlnes more harm than good

The journal Nature has published two letters in their correspondence section relating to developing countries and open access, see

While the content of the letters was not well informed, the headlines were damaging and inexcusable.

Headline 1: ‘Open access more harm than good for developing countries’

Headline 2: ‘Future of open access could be online and peer reviewed’

[H1] The provision of unprecedented volumes of research information now freely available to all with access to the Internet (3489 OA Journals; 1101 OA institutional repositories) translates into a growing resource of scholarly information for supporting research webwide. This is hardly harmful, and is not what the author was referring to.

[H2] OA has always been online and peer-reviewed. OA journals are peer reviewed just as are toll access journals, and institutional repositories contain already published articles that have also been peer-reviewed.

Three letters sent to Nature correcting misinterpretations and misunderstandings were refused publication.

As statistics from OA Journals and OA IRs now show, usage of OA resources by the countries disenfranchised from use of toll access journals is extremely high. This is not surprising - without OA, the sick, the hungry and the poor continue to suffer from lack of information and their countries continue to struggle to develop strong and independent research structures. Therefore, the headlines created by the Nature editorial team are factually wrong and damaging to sustainable development. Such headlines certainly make it difficult to read future Nature correspondence with any degree of trust.

For further discussion on this issue, see in Open Access News .

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

Friday, 4 July 2008

Public health consequences of closed access

If you are looking for an authoritative and comprehensive article on the background and rationale for open access and its importance for developing countries, you could do no better than read, “Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: A rights violation that impedes global health” by Gavin Yamey, published in the international journal, Health and Human Rights, Vol 10, No 1 (2008), and available (OA) online from

This is an excellent article that introduces the issue of human rights into the open access debate. It provides many quotes from researchers in the developing world that bring real-life examples of how closed access damages public health and restricts the development of academic strength in low-income regions of the world. And it matches these examples with the considered views of many international organisations and authorities, reiterating the widely accepted view that economic growth is dependent on a strong and independent research base.

But the article is already out of date. Since its publication the number of organisations introducing open access mandates has grown from 11 to 46, with a further 8 under development. Moreover, the article focuses almost exclusively on OA publishing, whereas the increasing volume and usage of free material available from institutional repositories is only touched on. This is a pity as the development of interoperable OA repositories is the fastest, cheapest and easiest means to get authors’ versions of already refereed and published research findings into the hands of those that need them. Perhaps Yamey can be persuaded to write a second insightful article on the importance of OA IRs to research and sustainable development . . . and he could include the huge benefit OA provides in making the ‘invisible’ research carried out in the poorer countries globally ‘visible’.