Open access scholarly communication in South Africa : current status, significance, and the role for national information policy in the national system of innovation

De Beer, Jennifer Anne (2005-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South African science shows a decline in its global competitiveness in that its scholarly publication rate has not kept pace with that of other countries, both developed and developing. This, together with a decline in publication rate especially among junior South African scholars, suggests a structural problem in the South African national system of innovation. A declining publication rate indicates a problem of knowledge diffusion for South Africa, and hints at a possible knowledge generation problem. This assignment limits itself to the dynamics of knowledge diffusion with specific reference to Open Access scholarly communication. Open Access scholarly communication is an overt intervention regarding knowledge diffusion. The marginalisation of science in and of developing countries, leading to a state of knowledge imperialism and knowledge dependence, is addressed, and it is argued that knowledge diffusion and generation are at the heart of longterm economic growth. This assignment has been structured around two core sections, a theoretical framework based in the literature, and empirical study. The central concepts of scholarly communication and Open Access, national information policy (NIP), and national system of innovation (NSI) are elaborated upon in the theoretical framework (Chapters 2 and 3). The empirical part of this study (Chapters 4 and 5) in turn consist of two parts. Both parts used the survey method, however the first part made use of a questionnaire instrument, and the second part made use of a structured record review. Both empirical studies were used to assess levels of activity and extent of adoption of Open Access within a defined South African scholarly community, one discipline-based, the other institution-based. The aims of this study were two-fold: to assess levels of awareness of and investment in Open Access modes of scholarly communication within defined scholarly communities; and to create a benchmark document of South Africa's involvement to date in various Open Access initiatives. The argument is made for the openness of scholarly systems, and furthermore that the disparate and uncoordinated nature of Open Access in South Africa needs a policy intervention. The policy intervention so identified would exist within an enabling policy environment and would be minimally disruptive to the South African science system. Said policy intervention would constitute a National Information Policy since it would address the storage, dissemination, and retrieval of scholarly research output. This assignment recommends the amendment of the current statutory reporting mechanism - used by scholars to report and obtain publication rate subsidies - which would require that scholars make their research available via an Open Access mode of scholarly communication, and moreover, would require scholars to report on having done so.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die wetenskap as praktyk in Suid-Afrika toon 'n afname in internasionale mededingendheid. Laasgenoemde is sigbaar in die tempo waarteen Suid-Afrikaanse vakpublikasies nie tred hou met dié van ander nasies nie, beide ontwikkelde en ontwikkelende lande. Hierdie afname, gepaardgaande met 'n afname in publikasiegetalle van veral junior navorsers, sou kon dui op 'n strukturele probleem in Suid-Afrika se nasionale innovasiestelsel. 'n Afname in die vakpublikasietempo dui daarop dat Suid Afrika 'n probleem het ten opsigte van die distribusie van kennis. Hierdie werkstuk is beperk tot die dinamiek van kennisdistribusie met spesifieke verwysing na 'Open Access' wetenskaplike kommunikasie. 'Open Access' wetenskaplike kommunikasie is 'n eksplisiete intervensie gemik op kennisdistribusie. Wetenskap binne en vanuit ontwikkelende lande word al hoe meer onbelangrik geag en kennis-imperialisme and kennis-afhanklikheid neem toe. Aan hierdie laasgenoemde aspekte word ook aandag geskenk. 'n Deel van die argument wat geopper word is dat kennisdistribusie en kennis-generering kern aspekte van langtermyn ekonomiese groei is. Hierdie werkstuk bestaan uit twee kern afdelings: 'n teoretiese raamwerk gebaseer op 'n literatuuroorsig, en 'n empiriese studie. Die sentrale konsepte van wetenskaplike kommunikasie en 'Open Access', nasionale inligtingsbeleid, en nasionale innovasiestelsels word beskryf in die teoretiese raamwerk (Hoofstukke 2 en 3). Die empiriese deel van hierdie studie (Hoofstukke 4 en 5) bestaan uit twee dele. Beide laasgenoemde dele maak gebruik van 'n opname as metodiek, maar die eerste deel het gebruik gemaak van 'n vraelys, en die tweede deel het gebruik gemaak van gestruktureerde studie van rekords (in die vorm van Webtuistes). Albei empiriese studies was gebruik om die vlak en mate van aktiwiteit rondom 'Open Access' binne 'n beperkte Suid-Afrikaanse wetenskaplike gemeenskap vas te stel. Hierdie gemeenskappe is gedefinieer óf volgens dissipline óf volgens instansie. Die doel van hierdie werkstuk was veelvoudig: om die vlak van kennis van en betrokkenheid by 'Open Access' inisiatiewe vas te stel binne Suid-Afrika; sowel as om 'n basis-dokument te skep insake Suid-Afrika se betrokkenheid tot op hede by verskeie 'Open Access' inisiatiewe. Die argument vir 'n oop wetenskaplike stelsel word gestel. Verder word geargumenteer dat die lukrake en ongekoordineerde manier waarop 'Open Access' tot dusver in Suid-Afrika bevorder is, daarop dui dat 'n intervensie op die vlak van beleid benodig word. Laasgenoemde beleid sou binne die bestaande beleidsomgewing geformuleer word, en sou relatief min ontwrigting meebring in die huidige Suid-Afrikaanse navorsingsopset. Die spesifieke beleid wat ter sprake is, is die nasionale inligtingsbeleid aangesien dit regulasies daarstel ten opsigte van die berging, distribusie, en herwinning van navorsingsuitsette. Hierdie werkstuk stel voor 'n verandering van die huidige statutêre verslagdoeningsmeganisme - wat gebruik word deur wetenskaplikes om verslag te doen oor hul gepubliseerde navorsing om navorsingsubsidie te kry - wat sou vereis dat wetenskaplikes hul navorsingsuitsette beskikbaar stel via 'n 'Open Access' kanaal, en verder, dat navorsers verslag doen oor laasgenoemde.

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