DST promotes open access
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) says it will champion the open access mode of online publication as a means of making key research findings widely available.
Speaking at the introduction of the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive project, Pandor noted that through the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) – open access initiatives would be promoted to make research more accessible to the entire research community.
“Information and knowledge are valuable and are not generally online for free. Most path-breaking science research is locked up by academic publishers – a small group of academic publishers who exercise a monopoly over journals and magazines, and require users to pay them and not the authors for knowledge,” Pandor explained.
She added the DST was working on ways of breaking down existing paywalls.
“Some universities have refused to allow academics to give copyright to international publishers. Others have developed open access repositories on their university web sites. Under advice from ASSAf, the aim is to move forward resolutely with a well-resourced programme for expanding our electronic access to the global and national scientific literature,” she said.
Speaking about the digitising of Nelson Mandela’s records for online use – Pandor hailed the project as an example of the direction research institutions need to take.
“We must take advantage of the digital world to improve our education and training systems. Government’s role is to facilitate that process, to assist young people to develop the basic skills to benefit from IT.”
It was for development reasons that government has been quick to seize the opportunity of working towards the achievement of the practical benefits of digital technology, Pandor stated.
“This can be seen in our focus on basic literacy and numeracy at school, our focus on new vocational learning, and our focus on skills for the knowledge economy at university,” she said.