Some 70 experts and policy specialists from several Arab Countries Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arab Sudan, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates gathered in Hotel Conard Cairo, Egypt from 13 to 15 September 2015 to develop strategies and a road map to implement open access to scientific information and research in the Arab States.
UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Technology in the Arab States office in Cairo collaboration with Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, Arab Republic of Egypt, UNESCO National Commission in Egypt, and Q-Sciences organized the First Regional Pan-Arab Consultation on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research – Concept and Policies.
Dr Ghaith Fariz, Regional Director of the Regional Bureau of science for UNESCO in Cairo, asserted, "The issue of the use of open access to scientific information has a significant importance, particularly at this stage where the whole world and the Arab region are preparing to promote and speed up the development post 2015 work on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. These goals focus on the importance of knowledge and science in supporting the development process in achieving sustainable development. A closer look at the seventeen sustainable development goals for the year 2030, shows the increasing stress and dependence on knowledge and science in its different forms to achieve, for example, goals related to water, energy and environment”.
In his introductory remark, Dr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, noted "We would like to encourage research funding agencies to create Open Access repositories as well as to set-up Open Access Funds for supporting publications in Open Access journals. We believe that the Open Access publication fees should be considered part of research budget. We also believe that embargo, if any, should be not more than 6 months and be automatically inscribed in the Open Access repository."
The First Deputy to the Minister of Communications and Information, Dr Noha Adly expressed her hopes that "in this brotherly set up we consider ourselves one team connected by a number of common intellectual and scientific factors. These commonalities are a strong asset based on international initiatives in this field, we hope to make use of this workshop to discuss and study how best to collect Arab efforts”.
The main objective of the Regional Consultation is to share how free and unrestricted access to research and scholarly communication can increase the impact of research and benefit research institutions, authors, journal publishers and the society as a whole. The Consultation will examine also how the context of Open Access to scientific information in the region can add to the productivity, visibility and accessibility of research and research outcomes.
The Consultation created an enabling mechanism to assess contexts of mandates or policy framework that surrounds Open Access to scientific information and provided an opportunity for reflecting upon case studies and examples of how Open Access has influenced teaching, research and development in the region. Workshop participants also had an opportunity to contribute towards highlighting priority areas for intervention to achieve “Openness in Scientific Information and Research” in the region and individual countries.
Participants have also been invited to review the UNESCO Open Access policy templates and workout specific policy for their own country/institution and develop a work plan on how to implement the same with specific timeline.
The strategy action plan generated in the consultation is expected to generate a road map for implementing Open access in the region in the years to come.