My Policy Paper for the OSI International Policy Fellowship concludes with a number of policy recommendations, at international, national and institutional level. Here is a brief summary of these recommendations:
Advocacy and research
There is a need for advocacy to promote the importance of effective and broad-based research dissemination as a way of
achieving greater impact for African research, nationally, regionally and globally. Such advocacy would argue for the recognition of a wider range of publications, addressed not only to scholars, but aimed at the broader
community. Alongside this, advocacy is needed to spell out the advantages of Open Access – particularly in the developing world context – in increasing research impact and reach.
Advocacy campaigns would need to be accompanied by the development of effective case studies to provide working
examples of how research dissemination can be transformed and what impact this transformation is having.
International and regional policies
Access and participation: At an international level, policy initiatives that address the global knowledge
divide need to move from an approach driven by the idea of access – in other words the idea that developing world problems would be solved by providing greater access to global knowledge resources – to
a recognition of the need for greater participation by African countries in knowledge production. This would also require international policy documents to move beyond narrowly-focused proprietary and commercially-driven metrics for the evaluation of research performance to recognition of the importance of non-proprietary, collaborative approaches to knowledge production and dissemination.
Access to publicly funded research: An important strand of such a policy environment would be the creation of policies
supporting Open Access to publicly funded research, along the lines proposed by the OECD Declaration and the Salvador and Bangalore Declarations.
The WIPO Development Agenda: This programme (which is now showing signs of being accepted for implementation) if implemented, could deliver a less punitive and more open international IP dispensation, offering more equitable access to knowledge and more flexible regimes for the fostering of innovation and creativity in developing countries.
Regional collaboration: Regional collaborative initiatives for the advancement of scholarly communications, such as SciELO are recommended, as is the development of an African citation index.
Intellectual Property Law: Greater openness for research dissemination could be achieved without the need for
changes in IP law. However, there is a need to address the inconsistencies in South African IP legislation in relation to Fair Dealing and special provisions for educational and library use. It would be desirable to investigate the
question of territorial rights and their impact on the cost of imported books.
Access to research from Public Funding: Policies for Access to Research from Public Funding could provide mandates for the deposit of research publications in institutional repositories, for national harvesting, opening up the availability of research knowledge.
Support for Open Access research publication: As recommended by the Academy of Science of South Africa, there needs to be financial and logistical support for scholarly publication at a national level. This could include the provision of funding derived from top-slicing a small percentage of the Department of Education remuneration for research publication in accredited journals. An alternative listing and indexing system for journals could contribute to raising quality standards while at the same time ensuring the national relevance of journals. Support for Open Access publication would increase visibility and impact.
Support for a wider range of publications: However, support for research dissemination needs to go beyond the traditional focus on journal articles if research publication is really to impact on national development goals. At national
level, a more positive rating for publication in books and conference proceedings is needed as well as the recognition of the importance of other, less traditional publications, such as research reports and popularisations. Electronic publication needs clearer recognition.
Social impact measures: There is a need to initiate research into the development of social impact criteria as opposed to the current, proprietary and commercially-focused metrics.
Academic reward and promotions: If research publication is to be development-focused and not only geared to
international prestige, then institutions would need to address a wider range of criteria for academic reward and promotion, more closely geared to the development-focused goals of national higher education research and innovation policies.
Integrated communications management: There would be a good deal to be gained if institutions were to take an
integrated approach to scholarly communications and the use of digital media. This could include policies for the creation and management of institutional Open Access repositories; support for the management of the contracts signed by academic authors; and addressing the publishing needs of the institution and providing support for research dissemination and publication. In other words, the institutions would endorse the centrality of research dissemination and publication, as well as access to research knowledge.