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OA and the Decolonization of the university in Africa 2016


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Paper delivered in Dakar, Senegal, at the Codesria conference on Open Access and the Future of Africa's Knowledge Economy, 2016

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OA and the Decolonization of the university in Africa 2016

  1. 1. Open Access and the Decolonization of the University in Africa Open Access and the Future of Africa’s Knowledge Economy Fourth Codesria Conference on Electronic Publishing and Dissemination Dakar, 30 March – 1 April 2016
  2. 2. The ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement at UCT, demanding an end to neo-colonial higher education, launched countrywide student protests in South Africa in March 2015
  3. 3. Open Access, with its democratic ethos, should play into this movement, yet the question of access to research publication, open access and the democratization of scholarly publishing has not been on #RhodesMustFall agenda…
  4. 4. But open access appears to be heading for stormy weather…
  5. 5. Instead of decolonizing, is OA losing out to the corporate strength of the big journal publishers and their hold on academics keen for promotion? A knock-out blow….?
  6. 6. In the last few months, weeks and days, and accelerating unease …
  7. 7. Bernard Rentier, a leading champion of OA in Europe, accuses scholars of succumbing to a ‘Stockholm Syndrome, betraying their own interests in negotiations with publishers’.
  8. 8. Email from Bernard Rentier (University of Liege) to the Communaute de Libre Acces Francophone, 25 March 2016
  9. 9. Email from Bernard Rentier (University of Liege) to the Communaute de Libre Acces Francophone, 25 March 2016
  10. 10. One of the best-known and longest-standing OA advocates and missionary champion of green OA, Stevan Harnad, walks out in despair
  11. 11. A weakness of the OA movement - ideological arguments about the right road, the Green or the Gold, finally culminate in this impasse.
  12. 12. AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Tambako the Jaguar
  13. 13. What has been missing is a lack of clear strategic thinking that looks beyond the journal article
  14. 14. The weakest point – researchers’ addiction to prestige journals and impact factors…
  15. 15. Yochai Benkler in 2006 expressed reservations about OA based on the conservatism of universities and, given the conservatism of universities, the weight carried by the leading journals like Science and Nature, and the persistence of the reward system. ‘[A]s long as hiring and promotion decisions continue to be based on the prestige of the journal in which a scientist’s work is published, the ability of these new journals to replace the traditional ones will be curtailed.’ Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006: 323-4.
  16. 16. AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Mennonite Church USA Archives We chase after global prestige…
  17. 17. A competitive and individualistic system in conflict with the collaborative culture of digital media and with the collaborative development-focused research that many African countries seek.
  18. 18. access/open-access-will-remain-a-half-revolution-interview- with-richard-poynder 2 March 2016
  19. 19. The source of our unease – a scholarly publishing system brokered over 60 years ago
  20. 20. We have failed to build a strategy on what is needed in a digital 21st century in Africa.
  21. 21. And so we get this… an Elsevier OA African megajournal…
  22. 22. And the ‘gold route’ leaves the system vulnerable to the strategies of the multinationals..
  23. 23. Relationships are not good…
  24. 24. htph access
  25. 25. Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy … requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles…Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers. sharing-policy/
  26. 26.,-bad-feelings-in-the- knowledge-business/6480274
  27. 27. …the war continues and the battlefield resembles the Western Front in WWI: a stalemate. Both sides have won significant victories and suffered significant defeats, but the key questions remain the same. Who owns scientific information? How much does it cost to access it? Who should be able to access it?
  28. 28. Now Africa is being re-colonized…
  29. 29. ‘One of the fundamental questions is whether you regard the knowledge that's generated through research as a common good,’ says Professor Leeder. ‘In other words, it should be there for everybody to use, paid for by the community through its taxes to research workers, or whether someone can come along and put a fence around these paddocks and say, “Well that's actually mine.”’,-bad-feelings-in-the-knowledge-business/6480274
  30. 30. This is only one of many African-centred initiatives by the multinational publishers
  31. 31. …who until now have denied that Africa is part of their ‘international’ world, and therefore capable of offering research impact..
  32. 32. With disastrous results
  33. 33. Photo European Commisison CC-BY-NC
  34. 34. How did we get into this mess? A lack of strategy?
  35. 35. … someone who did strategise very carefully, after World War II…
  36. 36. Robert Maxwell – media mogul, possibly a double or treble agent, but also one of the main architects of post-war scientific publishing…
  37. 37. … from a poverty-stricken background in what is now Czeckoslovakia, he landed up at the end of World War II working for British information services in British Occupied Germany
  38. 38. Maxwell recognised that research content , scientific and technical knowledge had become valuable – a matter of money….
  39. 39. AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by daniel.d.slee English became the dominant language Politically?
  40. 40. The power base was that of the victorious Allies, the UK and the USA …
  41. 41. … Maxwell lionized scientists, paid for travel, editorial parties, took the business management over for them, created new journals for their specializations…
  42. 42. …promotion and prestige became inextricably linked to journal publication…
  43. 43. … so that now the real problem lies in our promotion and reward systems… AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by ayomide!
  44. 44. What we have failed to address…
  45. 45. We are literally throwing away a lot of the research that is being carried out on critical national priorities – it often reaches only the relevant donor
  46. 46. This is being addressed, for example, in the Carnegie-funded Poverty and Inequality Initiative, that is developing policy, working with governments for effective poverty alleviation
  47. 47. The University of Cape Town, which chases citation counts to maintain its position as the top- ranking African university overall has in fact come 8th in the world subject rankings for development science…
  48. 48. So how should we be strategizing?
  49. 49. Align our publishing practices with our strategic imperatives, developmental, commercial, and the quest for real excellence…
  50. 50. Although radical alternatives have started to suggest themselves and need to be watched for potential revolutionary impact…
  51. 51. Eve Gray Research Associate Intellectual Property Law Unit University of Cape Town