Open Access Week 2011 Event in Republic of Macedonia - Report

Open Access Week 2011 event was held for the second consecutive time in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia at the University “St. Cyril and Methodius”, Faculty of Philology “Blaze Koneski” on Friday, 23-rd of October from 13.00 until 15.00. The small group of attendees was mainly composed from university professors, researchers, information professionals, librarians and PhD students from the Faculties and research centers from the University “St. Cyril and Methodius”. In addition, this year we had representatives from the Free Software Macedonia NGO (http://bit.ly/rDdnJF) who had found out about the OAW2011 event in Republic of Macedonia on social networks Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, none of the open access advocates from Republic of Macedonia (as noted on eIFL website http://www.eifl.net/country/macedonia and UNESCO Global Open Access Portal http://bit.ly/tWWIG7) attended the lecture (same as the last year). Due to the small and mostly open access aware group, lecture was open for Q&A during the whole time.

After short introduction of everyone’s background and professional interests, some of the basic definitions and concepts of Open Access followed by historical overview of OA movement have been explained (Prezi from the event can be found at http://bit.ly/t2jXLX ). The role of OA portals like www.doaj.org and Public Library of Science http://www.plos.org/ lead to a lively and dynamic discussion explaining at first the Free and open source software (FOSS) used for Scientific Publishing (Gold OA), and Institutional Repositories (Green OA). Focusing on the Open Access Journals from Republic of Macedonia listed at the DOAJ directory led to interesting conclusions about the new law for higher education that is neglecting the scientific openness of the research institutes and faculties that find themselves in a difficult financial situation while publishing with open access. A lack of awareness and understanding, financial assistance and trained IT stuff are the main problems faced by OA journals striving for a better IT publishing platform. Open Journal Systems http://bit.ly/tbzPbn was mentioned as a FOSS platform suitable for OA publishing along with DSpace http://www.dspace.org/ and Fedora http://bit.ly/tKvhw1 as FOSS for scientific repositories.    

In general, the public awareness about the open access to scientific information and open access publishing is at the very low level. There is an urgent need for a broader promotion of the existing OA journals from Republic Of Macedonia and a campaign of raising public awareness that will have its focus group aimed at the university librarians, information professionals, researchers, academic publishers and ministry of education and science representatives. We need to see some kind of involvement (if any so far), from the Macedonian electronic Libraries consortia http://bit.ly/vuHJ5E in the promotion of Open Access resources in Republic of Macedonia or at least support and promotion for the OA events organized so far in the Open Access Week 2010 and 2011 on their website.

Open Access movement in Republic of Macedonia is gaining momentum for the last 2 years and it is up to the small group of information professionals, OA journal editors in chief, FOSS enthusiasts to promote and create possibilities for public awareness campaigns and OA best practices. Without financial support from eIFL OA program or government of Republic of Macedonia supporting the OA pioneer journals and small OA community we risk of losing that momentum and getting into the loop of celebrating OAWeek annual event which is far from enough for a broader public awareness of the benefits that open access offers to the Macedonian scientific community. 

 

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