The tenth yearly Berlin 10 Open Access Conference will be taking place on the continent for the first time next week, with Stellenbosch University (SU) hosting the gathering on November 7 and 8.
SU library and information service senior director Ellen Tise said researchers and academics from across the continent would benefit from attending the conference, which would further open doors to increased access to research information.
“Several research and academic institutions in Africa and other developing countries simply cannot afford the high costs of access to academic information. Open access offers an alternative to the traditional publications process by making use of the internet to provide unimpeded access to scientific information,” she said.
The Berlin 10 Open Access Conference is an yearly project of the Max Planck Institute of Germany, where the first gathering took place in 2003. At the time, the Institute and European Cultural Heritage Online brought together a group of international experts with the aim of implementing a new Internet-based research environment through the application of open-access principles to make scientific knowledge and cultural heritage freely accessible.
The outcome of the meeting was the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which has since been signed by many scientific, research and cultural institutions the world over.
In October 2010, SU became the first institution in Africa to sign the declaration. Among the 300 other signatories are the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the Chinese Academy of Science, Academia Europea, Harvard University and the International Federation of Library Associations.
“The theme this year, ‘Networked scholarship in a networked world: Participation in open access’, addresses access to scientific knowledge for African countries,” Tise said.
Some of the speakers at the Berlin 10 Open Access Conference include Science and Technololgy Minister Derek Hanekom; European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, European Union Madame Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and World Bank external affairs VP Cyril Muller. Dr Bernie Fanaroff, the project director of the Square Kilometre Array, would also be addressing the gathering.
“This conference will have positive significance for South-South and South-North collaboration and should be viewed against the backdrop of the need to expedite Africa’s transition from a silent and invisible contributor to research production to a vibrant and dynamic participant in the global creation, exchange and application of knowledge,” SU rector Professor Russell Botman said.