Re: Open Access in Developing Countries

From: ept <>
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 18:16:04 +0000

Arun's paper and Stevan's reply are important. And Stevan's
'self-archive unto others as ye would have them self-archive unto you'
is key, because the N to S, S to S and S to N gaps are all positively
affected by the establishment and filling of eprint servers around the
world. By doing this low-cost activity, DC researchers and publishers
will see that OA has multi-directional benefits.

I think the DC's can lead the development because their need is the
greatest. But what is not stopping this happening is the lack of
awareness. Few DC institutes know about the OA movement. They cannot set
up OA archives if they don't know what these are, what benefits they
bring or how to do it. So Arun is right to say the development of OA in
DCs will be slow unless someone will fund global/regional
'awareness-raising programmes'. In the meantime, we can write articles
and distribute them widely; we can make presentations, make good
websites, get involved in training programmes..... Following the
ICSTI/INIST/INSERM meeting in Paris I became aware of a number of
programmes underway on ICT and information literacy. They were
interested in helping inform about OA....

We have an EPT Trustees' meeting on March 14th in London, and I am
planning a draft, very short 'e-leaflet' for discussion. When we have
revised this it could be distributed globally via all our many separate
contacts. It could be a kind of short FAQ aimed at DCs, answering the
key questions and leading interested organisations to the best possible
resources and support.

Arun is also right to think about centres to act as 'way stations' or
'staging posts' until such time as the infrastructure reaches all (which
it surely will - just as electricity did, and see the AfricaOne
project). This concept has been discussed in the Health Information
Forum and there is a web site for the development (
Although I do not think it has yet been funded, the idea seems sound and
could be mirrored in regions other than sub-Saharan Africa, for which it
was proposed.

However, I feel organisations that already can set up low cost
institutional archives, should do so now (as the Indian Academy of
Science has done), not wait, and so be in a position to help other
organisations regionally. The journals published in DCs can continue as
at present and are unlikely to be undermined by OA initiatives (as has
been shown already to be the case in the developed regions).

An important point to raise in these debates is that in
AIDS/malaria/tuberculosis/emerging new diseases/environmental
programmes/conservation etc - where the global picture is paramount -
the information from the DCs is missing and critical for the
establishment of effective international programmes. So setting up
eprint servers in DCs greatly benefits the developed world too, and this
argument may register favourably.


Stevan Harnad wrote:

> On Sat, 15 Feb 2003, Subbiah Arunachalam wrote:
>>Here is a draft report on communication flow and information access in
>>science in developing countries. I will be grateful for your valuable
>>comments and criticism. There are two attachments: the text and the tables.
>>[Subbiah Arunachalam]
> Dear Arun,
> I've read your article and it seems to give an excellent summary of all
> the factors involved in the three problems at hand:
> (1) The DC (developing countries) *access* to (incoming) non-DC
> (and DC) research literature
> (2) The *visibility/impact* of (outgoing) DC research literature
> (3) The technology gap (the problem of access to modern networked
> computer resources in DC)
> I cannot add anything about (3), though I have the feeling that
> significant progress in (1) and (2) would help drive (3) -- though
> clearly some headway on (3) is a prerequisite for being able to benefit
> from (1) and (2).
> I also understand that as (1) (immediate access) is most urgent for DC,
> immediate measures, such as lower-toll-access, are essential now; there
> is not the time to work and wait only for long-term open-access.
> But I think there is no conflict. Let DC do anything and everything they
> can do, now, to get lower tolls and more technology. But, *apart from
> that*, nothing is lost by investing as much time and energy as is
> available into (1), and thereby (2). (1) is open access, and what is in
> the hands of DC researchers whenever and wherever (3) (technology) allows it
> is BOAI-1, self-archiving their own research output (either in their own
> institutional Eprint Archives or in Central ones at other institutions)
> and/or BOAI-2, submitting it to open-access journals (BOAI-2) such as
> BioMed Central or PLoS.
> This local piece of self-help, multiplied many times over, in both the DC
> and non-DC, is what will eventually provide the long-term open-access,
> and it will at the same time provide (2): maximal visibility/impact for
> DC research output. (1) comes slowly, collectively, but (2) can be quite
> fast, for each researcher's own output.
> I think this needs to be stressed, in your closing remarks about the
> immediate needs vs. long-term open-access goals.
> We are, after all, trying to create a reciprocal domino open-access effect,
> and DC countries can help make it happen, and happen faster:
> "Self-archive unto others as ye would have them self-archive unto you."
> Cheers, Stevan
Received on Sun Feb 16 2003 - 18:16:04 GMT

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