Financing Open Science via an African Fund
Open Access is about the increased availability of research results to enable the more rapid advancement of science, knowledge and commerce.
The publishing industry is moving towards an Open Access (OA) business model based on article processing fees, which presents a barrier to researchers in the South, including those in Africa.
In a context where major publishers already earn around 2 billion dollars a year from article processing charges (APCs), questions are being raised about a system in which article processing charges “buy” open access authors, according to a study entitled “Should Open Access Lead to Closed Research? Trends in paying for research”, published in Scientometrics .
The study, published on 24 May 2022, was written by Lin Zhang, Yahui Wei and Ying Huang from the Centre for Science, Technology and Education Assessment at Wuhan University, China, and Gunnar Sivertsen from the Nordic Institute for Innovation, Research and Education Studies. Most scientific research is publicly funded. Achievements should be considered as a public good, which should be freely accessible to the public.
Open-access articles have considerably fewer principal authors from low-income regions, particularly those from the South, such as the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa than paid-for articles. We would like to have a workshop or panel on creating a fund to help researchers pay for exemptions for open access to their publications in paid-for journals.
We must mobilise donors to set up the African Fund for the Improvement of Publications and Access to Research. General exemption policies are also problematic. For example, middle-income countries are not eligible for exemptions. The country’s income status does not translate into increased investment in research.
How can Africa move towards open access by creating a fund to support researchers?
The aim of this workshop is to find ways of thinking about how to fund open science in Africa.
We want to stimulate this debate on the contours and organisations that need to be involved in setting up this African Fund for Open Science.
Our expectations for this workshop are to find ways of thinking about how and by whom the African Open Science Fund should be financed, the adoption by the African Union of an African Day dedicated to Open Science every 10 November and a declaration on open science in Africa at the next summit of heads of state and government at the African Union.