South African Science Academy recommends green and gold OA

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2006 23:13:40 +0100

Excerpted from Peter Suber's Open Access News

    Here's the key OA recommendation from the [South African Academy
    of Science] report:

    Recommendation No 6: that the Department of Science and Technology
    takes responsibility for ensuring that Open Access initiatives are
    promoted to enhance the visibility of all South African research
    articles and to make them accessible to the entire international
    research community. Specifically:

        * online, open access ("Gold route") versions of South
        African research journals should be funded in significant part
        through a per-article charge system (linked in the case of
        higher education institutions to an agreed fraction of output
        publication subsidies, and in the case of other research-
        producing institutions to adapted budgeting practice), but
        publishers should still sell subscriptions to print copies
        and should maximise other sources of income to lower the
        article-charge burden;

        * a federation of institutional Open Access repositories,
        adhering to common standards, should be established ("Green
        route"), with resources made available to help institutions in
        the preliminary stage, this virtual repository to be augmented
        by a central repository for those institutions which are unable
        to run a sustainable repository;

        * national harvesting of South African Open Access repositories
        should be undertaken as a matter of urgency, preferably by the NRF
        [National Research Foundation]; and the importance of affordable
        bandwidth for research communications for this purpose be drawn
        to the attention of DST [Department of Science and Technology]
        officials negotiating for better rates.

        ...The virtual repository would capitalise on institutional
        efforts, provided agreed standards were adopted, and provide a
        publication route for researchers in institutions without such a
        repository. The emphasis should be on "leapfrogging" the present
        turmoil and confusion in the system. The clear need for caution
        in assessing the presently somewhat vaguely defined business
        models for open access systems should not prevent the country
        from moving forward resolutely with a well-resourced programme
        for expanding its electronic access to the global and national
        scientific literature.

    PETER SUBER: "Kudos to the South African Science Academy
    for this bold proposal. I hope the South African government
    will take it up quickly.

    "(1) The Academy is exactly right that OA to the nation's research
    output will significantly increase its visibility and impact.

    "(2) The green part of the recommendation stops short
    of an OA mandate for publicly-funded research. Why? The
    report strongly recommends creating a national network of
    OA repositories, and then harvesting them, but it neglects
    the key step of ensuring that researchers deposit their
    work in them. South Africa should learn from the NIH,
    which has proved that making deposit discretionary, even if
    strongly encouraged, leads to a dismally low compliance rate.

    "(3) The gold part of the recommendation is unique as far
    as I know. I like the way it proposes to make the subsidy to
    OA journals direct, unlike the current taxpayer subsidies to
    subscription journals, which are so well hidden that publishers
    like to deny them and pretend that government subsidies for OA
    "tilt the playing field" and represent unlawful interference with
    the "market". I like the way it tries to mitigate the size of
    the article processing fees, though I'd like to hear more about
    that plan. I like the way it avoids the problem of some naive
    recommendations that would require publicly-funded research to
    be published in OA journals."

Received on Tue May 09 2006 - 23:42:38 BST

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