Kate Meagher Annotations

How is Open Access (in Africa) characterized?

Friday, April 10, 2020 - 4:27pm

KM: I was interested in Eve Gray's point about the Budapest Initiative, and Leslie Chan's comment on it.  Is this a case of contradictory perceptions of what was happening, or of one person seeing the underlying objective and pursuit of democratic Open Access, and the other seeing the hijacking of that objective by commercial interests? From what I've read, it sounds like these things were happening in parallel, rather than one or the other.

I have a sense that the same is true of journals.  Some see them and use them as ecosystems of scholarly debate where scholars work for free and publish for free.  Others, like Ruth or Sulaiman see them as commercial publishing ecosystems that serve needs of promoting local scholarly voice, but some form of profit is necessary for them to be sustainable. Still others see them as sources of capitalist profit and reshape them to serve financial and competitive rather than scholarly objectives.  But this was not how journals developed, and until recently is not how scholars saw them and many still don't relate to them that way. To such people, journals are about scholarly community or scholarly voice in areas of interest, not profits and promotions. I think Leslie Chan's idea of ecosystems is useful here: there are scholarly ecosystems, professional publisher ecosystems, and corporate publisher ecosystems, and they are not always trying to do the same things. It depends on which interests are driving them. We need to look at the ecosystems and the agents behind them, and understand how particular types of change reshape the ecosystems, and whose interests these changes serve.  That appears to be the only way that we can work out how to push for constructive change, and work out the kinds of scholarly ecosystems that best support African research needs.

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How is the research and/or publishing environment characterized?

Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 6:10pm

Kate Meagher: An important clarifying point to raise about the current Plan S is that while it pushes for making journals open access, it is based on an author-pay article processing charge (APC) model. That means that those with research funding can get the funders to finance the publication charges, but those without funding will face charges of £2,000 plus. Given the lack of research funding available to support African researchers, as noted by many of the discussion participants, the APC model would affect the ability of under-funded African researchers to publish in such open access journals.  Plan S would give them greater access to read journals, but less ability to publish in them, turning African researchers into consumers rather than producers of research -- a bit like a research version of dependent economies.

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