“No Publication Favelas! Latin America’s Vision for Open Access” by Monica Berger | ACRL 2021 presentation

by Monica Berger, CUNY New York City College of Technology

Abstract: Open access was intended to be the great equalizer but its promise has not come to fruition in many lower-income countries of the Global South. Under-resourcing is only one of the many reasons why these scholars and publishers are marginalized. In order to examine inequality in our global scholarly communications system, we can compare a negative and a positive outgrowth of this imbalance. Predatory publishing represents a a weak imitation of traditional, commercial journal publishing. In contrast, Latin America’s community-based, quality scholarly infrastructure is anti-colonial. It can be argued that Latin America’s publishing infrastructure represents one solution to predatory publishing. As the future of open access is debated, it is critical that we look to Latin America as we support new models that reject legacy commercial journal publishing and support bibliodiversity.

Jeffrey Beall infamously called Brazil’s SciELO a “publishing favela” or slum. Yet Latin America represents an important exception to the problem of underdevelopment of scholarly communications in the Global South. In order to begin to better understand the marginalization of the Global South and Latin America’s success, we need to unpack the history of open access, its overemphasis on the reader as opposed to the author, and how notions of development influenced its discourse. This focus on the reader is neo-Colonialist, positioning scholars from the Global South as “downloaders” and not “uploaders,” whose scholarship is peripheral.

Lacking alternative publishing options, predatory publishing, or amateurish, low quality publishing, exploited this gap. In its pathetic imitation of international, corporate publishing, predatory publishing is neo-Colonial and a form of “faux” open access where subaltern authors, editors, and publishers poorly imitate Global North corporate publishing. Predatory publishing is a sad simulacra with real world damage. Since predatory publishing is overwhelming based in the Global South and many of its authors based in the Global South, it tarnishes the reputation of all scholarship from less developed countries. In contrast, predatory authorship and publishing are rare in Latin America.

Latin America is an exemplar of sustainable and humane open access. Heather Morrison deemed Latin American as a “long-time peerless leader in open access.” The advent of Plan S, a rapid flip to open access, is accelerating the co-option of open access by large, commercial publishers predicating a variety of negative outcomes. In contrast, the Latin American concept of bibliodiversity represents an important alternative model. No one size fits all and a local vision governs. Bibliodiversity interrogates the presumption that all scholarship must be English-language. It also values indigenous and local knowledge as well as lay readers. Redalyc and SciELO include measures for research collaboration. Various regional scholarly organizations cooperate, sharing expertise, providing training in editorial and technical best practices. This cooperation has expanded to a global scale. The Confederation of Open Access Repositories and SPARC are partnering with LA Referencia and others, expanding Latin America’s vision globally, generating a meaningful alternative model for open access.

Comments

Slides with talk transcript and sources as presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, ACRL 2021: Ascending into an Open Future, held virtually, April 16, 2021.

Open Science and the emergence of preprints

“In the context of this journal, Revista Gaúcha de Enfermagem, the debate on the particularities regarding the new preprint model of publication has been a present topic and has stimulated intense debate in the scientific communication and editorial communities considering the contradictions that surround this model. At the same time, the editors have been consulted regarding the priority action lines of SciELO, the Scientific Electronic Library Online, in order to consolidate their own preprint repository, according to the international scientific publication trends towards Open Science, which has been integrating more and more the debate in forums and specific events (1-2….”

Towards open science: what we know and what we need to know

“Open science presents itself as a set of policies and actions to disseminate research results in an accessible, free and reusable and reproducible way through public digital repositories. As a movement, it uses three basic elements: open access to publications; data opening (whether raw, models, specifications, or documentation); computational process opening (software and algorithms)(1).

Although it is not a new phenomenon, the term can still cause strangeness even to experienced researchers. Open access to articles, as the first element, encountered (and still finds) great resistance to becoming unanimous, although pressure from the scientific society and funding agencies has accelerated the progress of this stage. On the other hand, data opening seems to have been better received, at least in its interface related to the deposit of scientific manuscripts in the preprint format, however this is only the beginning.

Concerning the Brazilian experience, SciELO and the Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology (IBICT – Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia) have been leading the opening process and for some time have designed guidelines and strategies to guide their journals towards open science: TOP (Transparency and Openness Promotion)(2). This system interestingly presents levels of openness experimentation that range from pointing out what is a certain item to making it conditional on it being expressly fulfilled for the manuscript to be published.

Although it has existed since 2017, it was only in 2020 that the alignment of Brazilian journals to TOP was indeed accelerated, and significant changes will be adopted in the journals in the coming months and years to adapt to such principles.

Having this information and basing ourselves on the fact that historically changes have been the target of resistance, especially when they happen in an ancient system, like the scientific publication system, we use our privilege to take on multiple roles (author, reviewer, and editor) among the scientific publication process in Brazilian journals to reflect and point out in this editorial four central issues related to editorial management that should be recurrent among the actors involved in the publication process in the coming years months: …”

SciELO network and accessibility: emphasis on policies, products and services | SciELO in Perspective

“As part of the alignment with open science research communication practices, the SciELO Program initiated an interdisciplinary work plan aimed at promoting accessibility to the SciELO Network products and web services….

Promoting open science and open access is not necessarily synonymous with promoting accessibility. If we do not pay attention to this, and overcome attitudinal, technological, communicational, and programmatic barriers, we will be legitimizing the violation of the individual rights of citizens of different societies on a daily basis to access what has been developed by scientific communities….”

SciELO network and accessibility: emphasis on policies, products and services | SciELO in Perspective

“As part of the alignment with open science research communication practices, the SciELO Program initiated an interdisciplinary work plan aimed at promoting accessibility to the SciELO Network products and web services….

Promoting open science and open access is not necessarily synonymous with promoting accessibility. If we do not pay attention to this, and overcome attitudinal, technological, communicational, and programmatic barriers, we will be legitimizing the violation of the individual rights of citizens of different societies on a daily basis to access what has been developed by scientific communities….”

SciELO Books and open access in epidemic times: More important than ever | SciELO in Perspective

By Gilberto Hochman, Researcher at Fiocruz, Scientific Editor at Editora Fiocruz and Assistant Editor of Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social midia is applauding the franchise of open access to books, book chapters, data and encyclopedias in all areas of knowledge by traditional foreign university publishers, bases such as JSTOR and Project Muse, and various publishers. The necessary policies of social isolation, and even quarantine, led to the closure of research institutions, universities, libraries and archives. And, with that, the drastic reduction of knowledge access channels, particularly in countries outside the 21st century central circuit of science. The offer is worthwhile and should be celebrated and enjoyed. However, this open access has an expiration date: the end of the pandemic.1 Regardless of its duration, after the international health emergency, access will again be paid for, either by individuals, educational and research institutions and by government agencies, with a huge burden for the countries of the Global South. Anyone who has tried and enjoyed, should pay to continue having access. Open access to scientific knowledge is not a routine or a commitment by publishers, but a business and an exception like during the pandemic. In that sense, SciELO Books is more important now than ever.

SciELO Preprints em operação | SciELO em Perspectiva

From Google’s English:  “The SciELO Program starts the operation of the SciELO Preprints server – https://preprints.scielo.org – in order to speed up the availability of research articles and other scientific communications before or in parallel with their evaluation and validation by scientific journals. Although open to all thematic areas, SciELO Preprints will immediately serve especially for communications related to COVID-19….”

SciELO Preprints em operação | SciELO em Perspectiva

From Google’s English:  “The SciELO Program starts the operation of the SciELO Preprints server – https://preprints.scielo.org – in order to speed up the availability of research articles and other scientific communications before or in parallel with their evaluation and validation by scientific journals. Although open to all thematic areas, SciELO Preprints will immediately serve especially for communications related to COVID-19….”

Building Bridges for Social Justice in Global Publishing: Seeking the Mexican Perspective: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  At the NASIG 2019 Conference, the presenter outlined how the dominance of English-language publishers based in the Global North negatively impacts researchers in Puebla, Mexico. Universities in the Global South must compete in world-wide university ranking systems, which intensifies the pressure to compete with researchers in the Global North to publish in journals of the Global North in order to demonstrate global competitiveness and local career standing. To support those competitive publishing expectations, institutions of the Global South must also subscribe to English-language journal packages of the Global North, thus locking in a cycle of academic publishing dominance. Meanwhile, Latin America is developing quality Open Access (OA) alternatives. In May 2018, the presenter received funding from a NASIG grant to interview journal editors and librarians at universities in Puebla, Mexico. Through these interviews, the presenter sought to explore challenges for researchers publishing in Global North journals, discuss the role of OA at the interviewees’ institutions, consider the future outlook for OA in Mexico, and examine the social justice implications of the academic journal publishing ecosystem. The presenter reported on findings from the interviews and invited members to discuss how engagement with researchers from the Global South can help the global scholarly communication ecosystem become more equitable.

 

The Road to Preprints (Part 1): Introducing Open Preprint Systems | Public Knowledge Project

In 2018, PKP announced a working partnership with SciELO to build the open source software necessary to host preprint servers. The requirements were clear and had been expertly laid out by SciELO: they needed a preprint server that could meet the decentralized, multilingual, and multidisciplinary needs of their network. But not only that, they needed their preprint server to be fully interoperable with – you guessed it – Open Journal Systems (OJS). Armed with specifications and seed funding from SciELO, along with a generous donation from a Stanford University donor, it wasn’t long before SciELO’s preprint server, Open Preprint Systems (OPS), was born. 

OPS 3.2 Beta is set to be released on February 28, 2020 alongside OJS/OMP 3.2 and we couldn’t be more thrilled – for both SciELO and the doors this software opens for the global scholarly communications community.