Open access (40) Open access in Africa (2)

9 August, 2019

Dear Williams Nwagwu and all,

Williams, you ask good questions []

1. "How much of the key journals in Africa are available open access?"

By 'key journals in Africa' I suspect you mean journals that are published in Africa? My impression over 12 years of scanning African health journals is that there has been an enormous increase in the number of journals that are open access, or at least are free access. Their visibility has been enhanced by African Journals OnLine, which was started at INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) and is now a 'South African non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the online visibility of and access to the published scholarly research of African-based academics' and is recognised as 'the world's largest online library of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals'.

From my perspective as a reader (and former staff member of INASP), the progress has been phenomenal.

I would be interested to know if anyone has any data on open access medical journal publishing in sub-Saharan Africa (or, indeed, other regions). Also, what do we know about the business models of these journals? Do they charge APCs and/or receive financial support from third parties? If anyone (a publisher, editor?) can share the ingredients for success, please do.

2. "What is the attitude of university administrators to open access in the region? University administrators want to increase the status and visibility of their universities through increase of senior scholars, most of whom achieve this status publishing in low status open access journals."

Yes, what is the attitude of academia to open-access publishing? The latter part of Williams' contribution suggests a perceived link between 'low status' and open access. One can certainly say this for predatory journals, but the latter can be regarded as an aberration and unrepresentative. It is fairly straightforward to identify high-quality open-access journals, and there is no logical reason why they should be trusted any less than subscription-based journals. Editorial quality does not depend on whether a journal is restricted-access or open-access.

Also, if academic institutions have the vision of creating and disseminating knowledge, and if the quality of content is not dependent on restricted versus open, then one might expect academic institutions to actively support open access journals rather than discriminate against them. As we heard last week here on HIFA, 60% of European universities already do this. It would be interesting to know more about perceptions of open-access across African universities and research institutions. is there any evidence of active discrimination against open-access?

Thank you everyone for this illuminating discussion.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Access to Health Research

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: