What is the state of Open Access publications in Latin America today? What are the key challenges as of today?
The popularity of OA in Latin America is soaring. Scholars in the region understand the importance of making their research accessible to all, especially since regional economic constraints tend to restrict access to knowledge through printed publications. As a result, university presses favour OA publishing in most cases and have their own online platforms. In fact, the OA model is used more extensively here than in any other region in the world, in the form of online repositories hosting journals and dissertations at a regional, national and institutional level. For example, Brazil-based SciELOhosts over 1,200 scientific journals, and Mexico-based Redalyc hosts journals across all academic subject areas from a wide range of Latin American countries, as well as Spain and Portugal. By disseminating scholarly research in this way, its visibility and impact at an international level will steadily improve — at the moment, the presence of Latin American research is still quite low. There is a distinct absence of commercial academic publishers in the region, unlike in Europe, the US and Canada, resulting in a limited circulation of printed publications. OA is therefore the way forward.
What are the challenges for OA publications in the future?
Convincing more academics of the benefits of OA not just for journal articles, but, more importantly, for peer reviewed books, even those on humanities subjects. However, Author Processing Charges — for the inclusion of research on OA platforms outside of Latin America, an attractive and more prestigious alternative for many Latin American academics — can reach up to $16000 USD and these costs are rarely accessible in the region.
Moreover, although peer review is commonplace, according to research conducted by Creative Commons, regulatory editorial policies and CC open licenses have not been adopted to monitor approximately 75% of OA content in Latin America, placing it below European and US expectations with regards to copyright and plagiarism.
What would you change first for making OA a reality in your region?
Public and institutional funding is currently invested in the indexation of OA journals and dissertations, mainly for scientific research (in the health sciences, etc.), so I would place a greater emphasis on OA funding for peer-reviewed scholarly books. Almost half of Latin American university presses do actually fund the OA publication of books themselves, therefore, commercial presses must strive to have a greater presence in the region in order to compete against these models, offering open CC licences to protect authors’ work. As mentioned previously, covering Author Processing Charges is a principal concern, which need to be propped up by research libraries and other not-for-profit funding bodies and organizations that wish to raise the profile of regionally-generated research internationally.
What does this year’s theme, “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge” mean for Latin America?
Implementing a system in which knowledge and ground-breaking research is accessible to citizens from all walks of life, in their preferred language, regardless of economic, educational and geographical limitations –that said, having access to a stable internet connection is necessary, and this isn’t always the case in Latin America!