An amazing year for open access in Myanmar
Highlights from the University of Mandalay and University of Yangon

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Participants at an open access workshop at the University of Mandalay in March 2016. Did you know that faculty members wear blue and librarians wear pink at universities in Myanmar so that new students immediately know who they are talking to?

EIFL Open Access Programme Manager Iryna Kuchma recently returned from Myanmar where EIFL, in association with the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon, organized a series of seminars and meetings to finalize institutional open access policies and launch open access repositories. Iryna was inspired to blog about the people she met and their strong commitment to open access.

Launching the first open access repository in the country

“Today, with the unprecedented access to diverse research materials online, we are witnessing encouraging progress in the academic efforts of Myanmar researchers and students,” says Professor Dr Thida Win, Rector of the University of Mandalay.

It is a sunny morning, beginning of the dry season, Mandalay is very hot, and we are talking about open access in the oldest university in Upper Myanmar with the Open Access Working Group members.

“Open access has opened up exciting possibilities for people from all over the world who are keen to further their academic work,” said Professor Dr Thida Win. “The doors to socio-economic development are now open. Open access makes academics powerful, but with power comes responsibility.”

University of Mandalay has taken ownership and control of their research publications, is designing an open access policy and is preparing to launch an open access repository.

Coordinated by the university’s Central Library and faculties of sciences and humanities, the repository will offer free and continuous worldwide access to scholarly works that include peer-reviewed journal articles, books and monographs, conference proceedings, research reports and research data.

All journal articles published from January 2007 onwards are to be archived in the university's repository, and the university requires final copies of PhD students’ theses to be deposited as well.

Implementing open access repository policy at the University of Yangon

Professor Dr Kyaw Naing, Pro-rector, University of Yangon, greets us with “MinGaLaBar!” - a traditional greeting roughly translated as “auspiciousness to you”. Great efforts have been made to modernize the University of Yangon.

Starting from the middle of 2015, University of Yangon formed an Open Access Working Group comprising the Rector, Pro-Rectors, faculty members, librarians and PhD students, who together developed the vision for an open access institutional repository. The group also defined content for the repository, designed the structure and approved an open access repository policy.

“We are very eager to establish our open access repository to support and promote open science, a trend that maximises our investments in research by making research outputs freely available to the world, ensuring access and preservation,” said Professor Dr Kyaw Naing.

KnowledgeArc contributes and learns from myanmar universities

"At KnowledgeArc, we are so pleased that EIFL invited us to take part in the EIFL eLibrary Myanmar project during this historic period in Myanmar, and to have been able to provide a modern, managed hosted DSpace platform for the open access repositories in the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon. The enthusiasm and motivation displayed by all the participants at every level of the universities is a model for other countries," says Michael Guthrie, Founder and Director at KnowledgeArc.

"To be able to spend time with everyone and hear their approach to the repositories and what aspects they wish to develop, proved invaluable to us to further refine our repository platform for Myanmar and for other developing countries. I look forward to watching the repositories grow and evolve. A very exciting time indeed in Myanmar!"

FANTASTIC PEOPLE COMMITTED TO ADVANCING OPEN ACCESS

We spent a week with fantastic people committed to advancing open access at the University of Mandalay and University of Yangon - Rectors, Pro-rectors, Heads of Departments, faculty members, PhD students and librarians - discussing practicalities, learning from each other, sharing knowledge and enjoying the unique Myanmar food.

It has been an amazing year for open access in Myanmar. Check out how we started: Introducing open access in Myanmar and Open access seminars with Fred Chan, Research and Data Services Librarian, the University of Hong Kong Libraries.

Funded by the Open Society Foundations Higher Education Programme, the EIFL eLibrary Myanmar project is supporting educational change at an expanding range of universities by enabling access to knowledge and building skills and capacities. The project has already had significant impact.

Find out more about the EIFL eLibrary Myanmar project.