Access Barriers Relegating Africa To Invisible Research Contributor

Jean McKenzie | Engineering News | November 8, 2012

The growth of research in Africa and the ability to find solutions to the continent’s problems will remain limited if African academic libraries continued to have restricted access to official research information, Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said on Wednesday. The expense of many academic journals, particularly in science and medicine, limited countries’ access to essential research information.

“Access barriers sometimes even result in critical, relevant knowledge and research outputs generated in Africa being published in journals overseas, journals that are not affordable to African academic libraries,” he said at the Berlin 10 Open Access Conference, in Stellenbosch. Recent examples of this were the publication of the discovery of the Australopithecus sediba fossil in the journal Science and the recent breakthrough in HIV research by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, which was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“This means that Africa is, in fact, deprived of its own knowledge production, relegating the continent to the status of silent and invisible contributor to research output,” Hanekom lamented. But he believed that the adoption of open access principles to allow scientific information to be more freely available on the Internet and by removing the financial barriers to accessing scientific information “is one of the most progressive ways of growing and showcasing African research”...