It is generally acknowledged that researchers and institutions in the Global South suffer from knowledge isolation because of poor infrastructure and lack of access to key resources, including the current literature. The remedy is therefore capacity building and the transfer of not only knowledge, but also the institutional framework of knowledge creation from the North to the South. In this context, Open Access to the scholarly literature is seen as a means of bridging the global knowledge gap.
In this presentation, I argue that a key contributor to the continual knowledge divide and the invisibility of knowledge from the Global South is the persistence and dominance of Northern frameworks of research evaluation and quality metrics, coupled with outmoded national and international innovation policies based on exclusion and competitiveness. These narrow measures have tended to skew international research agenda and undermine locally relevant research.
A great opportunity that Open Access provides is the means to develop alternative metrics of research uptake and impact that are more inclusive of knowledge from the South, particularly those with development outcomes. In particular, it is important to re-conceptualize and re-design the metrics of research impact to reflect new scholarly practices and the diverse means of engagement enabled by OA and the new wave of social media tools. At the same time, appropriate policies need to be developed to reward open scholarship and to encourage research sharing — issues of particular importance for ending knowledge isolation. Examples of the new kinds of “invisible college” enabled by networking tools and OA will be presented, and particular attention will be paid to innovations emanating from the periphery.