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Open access (OA) seeks to remove price and permission barriers that prevent knowledge from being shared. OA increases visibility, usage and impact of research and provides significant economic, social and educational benefits.
The EIFL-OA programme harnesses these opportunities to make open access a new norm.
Through EIFL-OA, 11 library consortia and libraries in Africa and Eastern Europe were awarded small grants in 2011 to implement national and institutional OA advocacy campaigns to reach out to research communities.
As a result of the grants, over 1700 national policy makers, research administrators, researchers, students, journal editors and publishers, and librarians attended workshops or other outreach events; educational materials in seven languages have been developed, including six short videos; 30 new OA repositories were set up and there was an increase in research output deposited in existing OA repositories; and three Universities launched new OA publishing initiatives.
Library Consortia in Botswana, Estonia, Ghana, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine Advocate for OA
National library consortia engaged in OA awareness-raising and advocacy activities and reached a broad audience that included policy-makers, researchers and librarians across the country and, in some cases, the general public. All of which resulted in increased understanding and awareness about OA.
The Botswana Library Consortium organized celebrations for the first ever national OA Week during which they held a series of meetings with policy and decision-makers. Dozens of university and government departments contributed to and attended the programme; in particular the Department of Agricultural Research at the Ministry of Agriculture showed a strong commitment and has already begun work on an OA repository for their research output.
Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana ran a high-level meeting, backed by the Association of African Universities (AAU), attended by about 100 heads of tertiary institutions, directors from ministries, departments and agencies, and researchers and librarians from Ghana and other African countries.
Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, Secretary General of the AAU, stated in his opening remarks that Africa cannot attain sustainable development without access to knowledge and information sharing and also that knowledge sharing is important to higher education to facilitate national development.
Some immediate impacts of their advocacy efforts, include the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) repository being designated as the national OA repository for institutions currently without OA repositories; and KNUST introducing an OA theses mandate.
In Botswana and Ghana, through radio interviews, they also engaged with the public in order to spread the word about the inaccessibility of African research and therefore the pressing need for OA to scholarly output.
For Estonia their activities -- OA Week events, an international conference, and the creation of an OA website -- proved to be a turning point for OA developments. Today, the University of Tartu Library takes part in the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research programme for monitoring Estonian research policies and is involved in national OA policy discussions. Furthermore, it has become a centre of learning and knowledge sharing for other institutions seeking advice in the field of OA.
Similarly, in Slovenia, when the consortium of 13 major research institutions (representing almost all active researchers in the country) launched a national website on OA, OPENACCESS.SI, the project attracted attention, support, and cooperation of all major national actors in R&D, including the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the Slovenian Research Agency, and the Science and Technology Directorate at the Ministry. A core group of OA advocates has been set up acting as the advisory body on OA in Slovenia.
In addition to websites, some campaigns made use of multimedia and other new media to educate researchers about OA and share best practices.
For example, in Lithuania, the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium created videos based on interviews with well-known policy-makers, researchers, librarians and publishers in addition to organizing a conference attended by over 100 participants. The Lithuanian research community and policy-makers became better informed about OA benefits and new possibilities for the research dissemination and sharing.
“In my opinion, if there is no classified information, the results of scientific research should be freely accessible. The research is paid from EU funds or from the budget of Lithuanian Republic, so it should be freely available.” said Nerija Putinaitė, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Education and Science.
Likewise, a promotional film in Ukrainian “OA in Ukraine: from islands to global village” was produced that provides an introduction to OA and showcases prominent researchers and research administrators discussing the benefits of OA. The video, along with workshops attended by over 530 researchers, university administrators, journal editors and publishers, and librarians helped to change the university management’s point of view concerning OA.
“The presentations about OA inspired us to create a new OA journal Tobacco Control and Public Health in Eastern Europe Journal – and register it in the Directory of Open Access Journals”, said Tatiana Andreeva, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the journal Editor-in-chief.
The Nicolaus Copernicus University and Akademia Gorniczo-Hutnicza University of Science and Technology in Poland collaborated to raise OA awareness by creating an e-learning course, the first of its kind in the country. The course, “Open Access – Open Science”, provides students, researchers and librarians with high quality materials for self-learning and re-use. It has already gotten over 500 user visits and Silesian University of Technology will launch the course for their students in the next academic year.
Open Access Advocacy at national universities in Latvia, Malawi, Sudan and Zimbabwe
Institutional advocacy campaigns resulted in a deeper understanding of OA and its benefits by researchers, librarians and administrators at national universities.
University of Zimbabwe’s OA advocacy campaign “Say No! to secret knowledge: Support OA” proved to be very successful. The Vice Chancellor approved an OA policy for theses and dissertation and an OA policy for research articles is being written (a draft should be available by June 2012). Librarians were able to reach a great number of faculty by holding both one-on-one meetings as well as organizing OA workshops attended by over 300 faculty members (from six of the 10 faculties).
The university community has fully embraced the OA concept and several researchers have seen an increase in usage and global visibility of the articles deposited in the OA repository.
Justifying the OA advocacy project was easy in Malawi as many researchers at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) had experienced first-hand not being able to access research produced by their own researchers.
The advocacy campaign effectively reached faculty members by organizing a series of ‘research lunches’. As a result, the most distinguished KCN researchers are now depositing their publications into the OA repository; and the faculty decided to launch a new OA Malawi Nursing Journal. In addition, the KCN Principal has proposed that the University of Malawi amend the rules for promoting academic staff to recognize depositing in OA repositories and OA publishing efforts.
In both Latvia and Sudan new institutional repositories were launched that now provide OA to scholarly research outputs.
In May 2011, the University of Latvia launched its OA institutional repository and faculty and students are now better informed about OA and equipped with a wide range of information about OA in Latvian.
The first Sudanese OA institutional repository at the Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum (DSpace@ScienceUofK) launched. Its contents are steadily growing and there has been an increase in usage and a marked improvement in the UofK ranking in the Webometrics edition of the Ranking of World Universities. The Dspace@ScienceUofK was designed as a seed repository – once it proved successful, it would eventually spread to other UofK Faculties and universities across Sudan. In addition, a proposal for a UofK OA policy is under discussion.
Finally, the project attracted national attention with the Sudanese Council of Ministries Documentation Department naming it a project of significant, national importance.
Read more about results and lessons learned, all 11 case studies available here: http://www.eifl.net/eifl-oa-case-studies.
The EIFL-OA programme is supported by the Information Programme, Open Society Foundations.