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Opening doors to global equity in open access

Recommendations to foster global equity in open access publishing from the first in a series of online workshops.

Universal Open Access is the first of Eight fundamental principles for scientific publishing, developed under ISC’s project on Scientific Publishing and adopted by ISC Members by a resolution of the October 2021 General Assembly. Today, nearly half of all new research articles are openly accessible in some format, but fee-based open access – where authors pay for publication – is increasing, raising concerns around affordability and equity in the context of very diverse levels of funding within the global science system.

In order to support open access to scientific information, with no barriers for authors or readers, there is a need to better understand the challenges in different settings, and for coordination among actors that contribute financially to scholarly publishing.

On 21 and 22 November the International Science Council (ISC), OA2020, the Association of African Universities (AAU), cOAlition S, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), UNESCO and Science Europe co-organized the first in a series of three workshops on ‘Global Equity in Open Access Publishing’. The first workshop, which took place online, focussed on Africa and Europe and was open to different stakeholders who fund or produce research, such as researchers, university administrators, science councils and grant funders, and ministries of research and education.

Participants expressed their views and suggestions through plenary sessions, panels and breakout room discussions. Some of the resulting proposals included an emphasis on investments in an open and globally equitable publishing system, with a re-orientation of institutional spending on journal subscriptions and alternatives towards open dissemination of research and support for Open Access and Open Science infrastructure, as well as greater financial support for local journals. However, all participants agreed that a truly equitable academic publishing system would only be achieved by reforming research assessment to make sure that authors are evaluated for the intrinsic merit of their publications rather than for the prestige of the journal in which they’re published, or other journal-based metrics.

Discussions also focused on principles of purchasing power parity, and the need for collaboration between different actors, including scientific councils, unions and associations, to work together to call for more equitable practices, including but not limited to transparent pricing for open access publishing services.

Download the workshop report.

The workshop was the first in a series of events, and these and additional proposals will be discussed in two more workshops to be held in early 2023, for the Asia–Pacific region and for the Americas.

Dates for the next workshops are expected to be announced in the new year and invitations will be shared with ISC Members. Keep an eye on this website, and on the work of the project on the Future of Scientific Publishing, to find out more.

Image by MridulRaj via Flickr.

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