African universities should work towards establishing open access policies, to enable their research to be more accessible to the wider scientific community.
Lisbeth Levey, a consultant on information and communication technologies for development, told delegates to the 4th Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture – RUFORUM – held from 19-25 July in Maputo, Mozambique, that academics, researchers and students should be given incentives to publish openly. RUFORUM is a regional network of more than 40 universities in 19 countries that fosters collaboration, coordination, training and research in agriculture among member universities.
“Academic resources made freely available to users worldwide, which may be distributed without requesting permission through open access publishing, have the ability to enrich African agriculture and RUFORUM could take a lead in promoting such policies,” she said. Universities in many countries, including South Africa, encourage publication in open access journals or formats but it’s not the case for most universities in Africa. Levey said authors should be encouraged to deposit a version of their research in their institution’s repository, if there is one and also in the RUFORUM repository. The RUFORUM repository is indexed in the AGRIS and CABI scientific indexes and databases. Although open educational resources were increasingly understood by RUFORUM network members, open access publishing was not. She said it would be useful for RUFORUM to organise workshops for students studying under its auspices and their supervisors to explain how to make open access publishing work for them.