OASPA Webinar: Open Access Publishing in the Global South

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What is the current state of open access publishing in different parts of the Global South? What are the particular challenges posed by open access publishing in this region, and what is the future of open access publishing in the Global South? How can open access journals in the Global South ensure they are recognised as legitimate and quality publishing channels within a global scholarly communication system?

In this one-hour webinar, Ina Smith (Academy of Science of South Africa), Abel Packer (SciELO), and Xin Bi (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University) compare and contrast open access publishing in three regions across the Global South: South Africa, Latin America, and China. Lars Bjørnshauge (DOAJ) will moderate the discussion.

As with all previous webinars, this webinar is open to anyone based at an OASPA member organisation, and we welcome your participation and questions to the panel. If you aren’t able to join live, the webinar is being recorded and made available to registrants after the event, so do sign up even if you are not able to join us in real-time. Our thanks to the Copyright Clearance Center, who are once again hosting the webinar.


Ina Smith, Academy of Science of South Africa


Ina Smith is currently preparing for further studies on the adoption of open access publishing in the Global South, with specific emphasis on Africa. She is currently employed as a planning manager at the Academy of Science of South Africa, where she is working on a DST/ASSAf/ICSU/CODATA project for an African Open Science Platform, and is a DOAJ Ambassador for the southern Africa region. In 2014 she received the LIASA President’s Acknowledgement for Exceptional Contribution (2014), in 2011 she was a Runner-up in the international EPT Award for Open Access, and in 2016 she was awarded LIASA Librarian of the Year. She holds a Masters’ Degree from the University of Pretoria in Computer-Integrated Education, a Higher Education Teaching Diploma, and an Honours Degree in Library and Information Science.

Abel Packer, SciELO


Abel Packer is Director of the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) Program of the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and Project Coordinator at the Foundation of the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil, since June 2010. Previously, he was Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences (BIREME) of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization for 11 years. He participated pro-actively in the conception, management, operation and dissemination of major Latin American and Caribbean multilingual scientific information networks, such as the Latin American Population Documentation System (DOCPAL), the Virtual Health Library (VHL) and the Scientific Electronic Library Online network that publishes currently about 1000 journals through national collections from 15 countries most from Latin American in addition to Portugal, Spain and South Africa.

Xin Bi, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University 


Dr. Xin Bi has been University Librarian in Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) since August 2007. At XJTLU, Xin has established the Library, Museum, Campus Bookstore and an ACCA examination Centre for the university with his team. In his capacity as University Librarian, he was a lecturer of Computer and Communication Skills from 2008 to 2012 and the acting head of Brand and Marketing Office from 2012 to 2014. He has been active in research since 2014 as the Research Associate in the Institute of Leadership and Educational Advanced Development of XJTLU since 2014. He also currently serves as Editor and China Ambassador of DOAJ in China, and is a board member of Asia (Pacific) Library Advisory Boards for several international publishers.

Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ


Lars Bjørnshauge is the Managing Director and founder of the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals). From 2012-2016, he was the SPARC Europe Director of European Library Relations, and previously he was the Director of Libraries at Lund University, Sweden (2001-2011), the Deputy Director and the Acting Director of the Technical Information Center of Denmark Technical University of Denmark (1992-2000), and President of the Danish Research Library Association (1992-1994). He was the first Vice-President of the Swedish Library Association (2005-2011), and is currently a Board Member of OASPA (2012- Present). He is also the co-founder of Infrastructure Services for Open Access, co-founder of OpenDoar,  the Directory of Open Access Repositories, and co-founder of the Directory of Open Access Books.

If science is going to save the world, we need to make it open


The last few weeks have been a momentous time in the sciences: not because of a breakthrough in gene therapy or quantum computing, but because world leaders have twice called for scientific papers to be made freely available to all.

On Friday 27 May, EU ministers of science, innovation, trade and industry published a progressive commitment calling for full open access to scientific research by 2020. Then, last week, US Vice President Joe Biden announced the launch of an open-access cancer database – a first of its kind – to allow researchers to better understand the disease and develop more effective treatments. The aim is for researchers to have information at their fingertips. Two petabytes of genomic and clinical data have already been released to the public.

While Carlos Moedas, the EU’s Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology, calls it “life-changing” for Europe and a “major step forward”, Doug Lowy, acting director of the National Cancer Institute in the USA, described it sharing medical data openly and freely as “transformative”.

So why is this model so important?

The gatekeeper approach to scientific publishing

Until the beginning of the millennium, scientific publishers operated a subscription model, whereby they charged universities money for subscriptions. They controlled what research would be impactful and significant enough to warrant publication. In some cases, universities can be charged up to $25,000 a year for a single journal subscription. Taken together, a large institution could therefore pay millions a year for all of the journals in its library. This cost is often borne out by students.

Researchers submitting papers to traditional academic publishers do not get paid and they hand over their copyright. This means that traditional publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free. Yet the material they publish was commissioned and funded not by them but by taxpayers, through government research grants. Yet the public, under this model, are denied access. Anyone not affiliated with a university must pay the publisher for the privilege for a limited licence to read a single article.

Authors can submit their manuscript only to one journal at a time, feeding into an industry with profit margins of between 30 percent and 40 percent and annual revenues of about $9.4bn in 2011 worldwide, while the science remains behind a firewall.

Digital disruption

But this model is being disrupted. With digital publishing, Academics started moving online, creating their own publishing forums and finding ways to freely disseminate the results of their research. In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative was released, publishing the principles of open access, and the movement finally had its official name. Shortly after followed the publication of the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. A breakthrough was achieved when the second largest charitable foundation in the world, the UK-based Wellcome Trust, required all Wellcome-funded research to be published as open access in 2005.

In 2003, the UK’s House of Commons science and technology committee released a report recommending that government funding agencies should require open access to publicly funded research. And in 2005, the Research Councils UK (RCUK) introduced a requirement for open access.

In the meantime, the first successful open-access publishers, including BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science (PLOS), developed a new business model in which academic institutions pay for their researchers’ articles to be published online, thereby granting open access to the latest research to anyone with access to the internet.

The state of science publishing today

So, where are we now? Two thirds of the world’s journals offer an open access option, meaning the tipping point has been surpassed.

Unlike traditional publishing, the costs for open-access publishers are far lower as they have no costs for paper or printing distribution, averaging around $2,000 compared to approximately $7,000 for each subscription article published.

Importantly, open-access publishers are innovative, having created a series of digital services that are impacting the way scholarly publishing is evolving. At the Swiss-based open access publisher, Frontiers, for example, we have introduced an online interactive peer-review forum, allowing authors, editors and reviewers to interact in real time to help scientists hone their manuscripts so the best research gets published.

New ways of measuring the significance of any research published, including article-level metrics and author-impact metrics, now allow for science to be evaluated by the community in a much more unbiased and transparent way whilst providing full access to anyone who is online.

This is an important step towards equality within the scientific community, by scratching away at the bias towards US and EU-centric views of our understanding the world, connecting scientific communities and allowing them to exchange data and research findings freely.
Written by

Nina Hall, Journal Manager, Frontiers

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.



在这个2020年后全面进行科学论文开放获取的欧盟决定之前,欧盟秘书长Sander Dekker 在两年前就曾经决定,在2024年,所有的科学论文都应该是100%开放获取的。


EU: from 2020 “open access” standard for all scientific articles

Friday May 27 2016 the European ministers of science, innovation, trade, and industry decided that from 2020 all scientific articles must be freely available to everyone. This goal is part of a broader set of recommendations that has been done to promote open science. The Ministers also decided that research data, if possible, should be published as open data, and that the data must be made available to third parties.

This European decision for fully open access of scientific articles in 2020 is ahead of the position of Secretary Sander Dekker. Two years ago he decided that that in 2024 all scientific articles should be 100 percent open access available.