Nothing in our lives today is untouched by the coronavirus pandemic. The endeavor of scientific publishing is arguably affected even more than most.
The walls surrounding research and scholarship have largely fallen, razed by the coronavirus pandemic. Today, the general public avidly follows developments in research related to COVID-19. And the range of concerns goes well beyond virology or epidemiology.
Mike Taylor, Head of Metrics Development for Digital Science, explained in May for CCC’s Beyond the Book podcast that, “this is one virus, but it’s a phenomenon in 12, 13, 14 different fields. We might think of this as purely a medical issue, but, there are all sorts of things going on here.
“We’re seeing people talking about urban planning, tourism and travel, communication, and public health policy,” Taylor said. “Understanding that and understanding how we listen to research is really interesting.”
At the recent STM Online Conference, presenters considered the current state and future prospects of Open Access publishing in ways especially fitting for 2020. Like so much else, OA publishing in October 2020 must address difficult questions about equity and justice. Program panelists Joy Owango, Sara Rouhi, and Rebecca Lawrence all offered frank views on the barriers that researchers confront when pursuing publication of their work.
“The future is African,” noted Owango, who is Co-Founding Non-Executive Director for The Training Centre in Communication, the first African-based training center to teach effective communication skills to scientists and to help researchers disseminate their research. Owango also sits on the board of AfricArxiv- The free preprint service for African scientists.
In 2007, Owango explained, African nations “made a commitment in 2007 to spending 1% of their GDP on higher education. Nobody thought that it would happen. Now, we have 15 countries and counting that have made just that commitment.
“We are getting to a leveling plane, and we have a fighting chance to demand good data. We also have a chance to demand visibility of our research output and ownership of our research output as well. These are good times ahead for us in the continent,” Owango tells me.
Visit Beyond the Book to listen to Joy Owango’s Presentation to the STM Online Conference and view the transcript.