Open access and the developing world – read the latest

The South African Regional Universities
(SARUA) recently held its Open Access Leadership
in Botswana, 20-21 November. The
of Education in Botswana, the Honorable J. D. Nkate, opened the event, noting:

We recognise that the
internet and associated digital technologies are creating new opportunities for
developing alternative models of publishing and disseminating scholarly work.
Limited access to publicly-funded scientific research resulting from the
traditional models and roots of disseminating this research is no longer
tenable in the African environment. There is a widening gap in research output
and consumption relative to the rest of the world. Open Access approaches and
models promote universal unrestricted free access to full-text scholarly materials
and scientific research via the internet, which in turn accelerates knowledge

The public good requires us to
remove and prevent barriers to this research and its publication. This new
knowledge has to inform not only our scientists and great thinkers, it must
also be a resource for all our citizenry, for rich and for poor, for
decision-makers and planners, and for an informed and creative general

The program is now available online.

Eve Gray
attended the SARUA summit and briefly summarises the proceedings in her blog:

“Promoting Open Access for increased quality
research, enhanced collaboration, and the sharing and dissemination of
knowledge, is a central principle for SARUA’s work. The Association is already
engaging with groups and networks of expertise and good practice locally and
globally in order to support the development of Open Access benefits for HE.”

Alma Swan
also attended the summit, and in her blog, OptimalScholarship, she
notes that “University leaders are starting to understand the messages about
the new opportunities for science and scholarship now that we have the web.”

Meanwhile, the National Knowledge Commission
(NKC) in India, again, calls for open access to publicly-funded research. In a
recent letter published in,
to the Prime Minister Dr. Mammohan Singh, the Chairman of the NKC, Mr Sam
Pitroda, suggests that India should use the broadband internet in order to
disseminate high quality educational resources on a global scale.

Among his recommendations, Pitroda suggests
that all research articles published by Indian authors who receive financial
assistance from the government should be available under the open access
format. The government should also invest in the digitization of books and
journals, which are outside copyright protection….

The United Nations
Environment Program
, Yale University, International Association of Scientific Technical and
Medical Publishers
, and over 340 international publishers and
prestigious scientific societies and associations announced on November 6,
2007, recently launched the second phase of ‘Online Access to
Research in the Environment (OARE)
, providing developing countries
with access to one of the world’s largest collections of environmental science
research online, and for little or no cost.

The Open Society Institute-supported electronic
Information For Libraries
(eIFL) network has helped establish almost one
hundred open access Institutional Repositories in developing and emerging
countries. These repositories are now moving towards linking up with the EU
DRIVER project. One of the objectives of DRIVER is to organize and build a
virtual, European scale network (portal) of existing institutional repositories
from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Belgium.

In the New
York Times,
Donald McNeil looks at
a new online medical journal, PLoS
Neglected Tropical Diseases
. He notes the editors’ decision to focus on
neglected diseases such as visceral leishmaniasis in war-torn Somalia and a
perplexing leptospirosis outbreak in Thailand. The journal, which is being
funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is openly
accessible to anyone and excludes ads from pharmaceutical and medical
companies. The journal also allows those scientists with financial difficulties
to publish their research.

The wave of low-cost
continues, with Everex
recently launching the Zonbu notebook. It is hoped that this will encourage
those living in developing countries to get online.

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