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On July 9-11, 2012, Makerere University hosted the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) and EIFL workshop “Open Access (OA) and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment”. It was the first event of the EIFL-funded project, “Promoting the adoption of campus-based, faculty-driven open access policies”. The presentations from the workshop are available here.
OA for researchers and publishers: increased readership, visibility, usage and impact
Dr. Paul Nampala (African Crop Science Journal and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture) highlighted challenges and opportunities of scholarly publishing in Africa: the benefits of OA for African Crop Science Journal, such as increased visibility and submissions (increasing number from outside Africa), cost reduction in publishing (up to 70%), time saving (the time required for production and dissemination are much less when publishing online - the Editorial Board is now considering publishing more issues), and discouragement of plagiarism.
Allan Mwesiga (Editor of the Pan African Medical Journal) shared his experiences with sustainability of OA publishing in Africa. Some lessons learnt: an African OA journal can attract large numbers of manuscripts in a very competitive environment; an increase in submission volumes comes with an increase in challenges (need for staff, system upgrade, change in procedures) which should be anticipated.
OA for research institutions: increased visibility and impact
Currently there are three OA repositories in Uganda: Uganda Scholarly Digital Library (USDL) at Makerere University, Ecommons at the Aga Khan University and at Uganda Martyrs University (in progress). Plans are underway to establish OA repositories in other institutions. Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University has already publicly acknowledged that OA institutional repository and OA journal – African Crop Science Journal – contributed to the high ranking of Makerere university in the Ranking Web (Webometrics Ranking) of World Universities.
Agnes Namaganda (Makerere University Library) presented the role of CUUL in OA institutional repositories development and suggested the following collaborative activities: advocacy-meetings with Vice-chancellors' Forum; librarians' round tables; sensitisation seminars/training /workshops; model sample policies which can be customised by institutions; setting up a forum for discussion/share skills; setting up a Functional Committee on Institutional Repositories at CUUL; fundraising/proposal writing; etc.
At the final session, “Planning check-lists and strategies for collective advocacy of OA to research results in Uganda”, over a dozen universities and research organizations presented their plans on: institutional OA advocacy campaigns; setting up OA repositories; and adopting OA policies. Strategies for collective advocacy of OA to research results in Uganda were discussed. These included: model OA briefs for vice-chancellors, model OA repositories proposals, collaboratively designed OA promotional materials and training materials for repository administrators and managers, signing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, and OA Week celebrations.
Discussing OA policies and strategies with regional research networks and national policy makers
On July 12-13, EIFL and CUUL discussed OA policies and strategies with regional research networks and national policy makers – Inter-university Council for East Africa, National Council for Higher Education, National Information Technology Authority Uganda, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, Research and Education Network of Uganda and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.
EIFL and CUUL will be working together to implement all the plans, stay tuned!