Thursday, October 27, 2005

Open Access and the developing world

The Salvador Declaration on Open Access was written on the 23rd September during the ICLM in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. It voices the developing world's perspective on Open Access to scientific research:
  1. "Scientific and technological research is essential for social and economic development.
  2. Scientific communication is a crucial and inherent part of the activities of research and development. Science advances more effectively when there is unrestricted access to scientific information.
  3. More broadly, open access enables education and use of scientific information by the public.
  4. In a world that is increasingly globalized, with science claiming to be universal, exclusion from access to information is not acceptable. It is important that access be considered as a universal right, independent of any region.
  5. Open Access must facilitate developing countries' active participation in the worldwide exchange of scientific information, including free access to the heritage of scientific knowledge, effective participation in the process of generation and dissemination of knowledge, and strengthening the coverage of topics of direct relevance to developing countries.
  6. Developing countries already have pioneering initiatives that promote Open Access and therefore they should play an important role in shaping Open Access worldwide."
and urges governments to "make Open Access a high priority in science policies including:
  • requiring that publicly funded research is made available through Open Access;
  • considering the cost of publication as part of the cost of research;
  • strengthening the local OA journals, repositories and other relevant initiatives;
  • promoting integration of developing countries scientific information in the worldwide body of knowledge"

Peter Suber and Subbiah Arunachalam review the situation of open access in the developing world in a paper to be published in the InfoPaper of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November. They answer the big question "Doesn't the digital divide interfere with these plans? [of providing OA to boost research in developing countries]"with: "Yes and no. First, internet access is improving rapidly in many developing countries and equipment costs and connectivity charges are coming down. Second, we should work now on the content side of the divide in order to take full advantage of every increment of progress on the hardware side. Primarily, this means educating scientists about the benefits of OA and persuading universities, libraries, funding agencies, and governments to adopt OA-friendly policies."

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