Open Access – A historical background

Open Access movement is the world’s effort to provide access to free online research and scholarly literature especially peer-reviewed and their preprints, Suber, Peter,2009. Open Access came into being in the 20 th century when University libraries across the globe could no longer afford payments of serials due to high cost of subscriptions. The emergence of the Internet during this period brought about innovation where anyone could publish information and share it across the networks leading to major projects of knowledge sharing. This development was further strengthen by the coming of the Free Software movement that supported the use and sharing of open software resulting in the development of open archives that encouraged scientist to self-archive their works and pre-publications into online depositories and free online distribution journals. Three major landmark events set the tone for the present open access celebrations:

2002 The academic movement came together to draft the Budapest Declaration on Open Access Initiative.

2003 The signing of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access calling for action and advocacy for adoption of open access to scientific literature with 5000 institutions signing the declaration.

2003 launching of Public Library Science that publish some of the best open journals. Ever since then research institutions, Universities and the world over earmarked the last week of October as Open Access Week. The occasion brings together researchers, scholars, librarians, information technologists and others to share experiences, impact skills raise awareness, advocacy for no process or reduced prizes for subscriptions for databases.

The 2020 Open Access theme calls for action to build structural equity and inclusion. The theme invokes communities to take action in ensuring the development of strong community governed infrastructures that support diversity in scholarly research communication. Diversity that embraces diverse funding mechanisms, services and platforms, and evaluation measures that embraces diverse research workflows, languages and culture, reducing the culture of multinationals corporations that promote monopoly and high cost in information services.

The current pandemic has revealed the urgent need for action and promotion of open access to afford the world community the needed information to address the economic challenges, diseases, psyche-social challenges presently affecting communities. The current models of pay- walls, pay to publish perpetuated by the multinational publishing houses should fall. The world need research literature more than before to develop lifesaving vaccines without the embargo to research results. Here at Botswana Open University the Library will launch its recently revived institutional repository, the platform that houses intellectual output of the University. There will be expert presentations surrounding this topic particularly on archiving of works into the repository by authors, as well as advocacy for publishing in open access platforms. The event will also be used to share experiences of how the University has responded to challenges presented by COVID-19 in the delivery of teaching and learning, as well as other support services. Response to COVID-19 has also further quickened conversations around building networks and structures that will support national repositories of Open Educational Resources (OERs). Results of a mini survey on perceptions of BOU staff towards publishing in open access platforms and open journals will also be shared. Besides the University staff the occasion will host two international speakers from Electronic Information for Libraries(eIFL) and Kenyatta University.


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