Building peace in the minds of men and women

Launch of the Global Alliance of Open Access Scholarly Communication Platforms to democratize knowledge

12 April 2019

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Meeting of Open Access Platforms in a session titled “Access to Scientific Information – Are we ready for the Global South and SDGs” at the WSIS Forum 2019
© UNESCO

A new momentum is emerging in the dissemination of scientific knowledge worldwide. 

In Inclusive Knowledge Societies, people have ready access to information and communications resources, in languages and formats that suit them, and possess the skills to interpret and make use of them. Within this framework, promoting access to scientific scholarship (in the broadest sense) has remained a central challenge to most Member States. UNESCO, with its partners, continues to pursue this objective through its programmes on Open Science and Open Access as well as in partnership with other key actors .

At a session organized by UNESCO on 8th April at the WSIS Forum 2019 in Geneva,  coordinators of six platforms – AmeliCA, AJOL, Érudit, J-STAGE, OpenEdition, and SciELO Network agreed to join forces to democratize scientific knowledge following a multicultural, multi-thematic and multi-lingual approach. The Global Alliance of Open Access Scholarly Communication Platforms (GLOALL) was launched with a recognition of the principle that scientific and scholarly knowledge is a global public good essential for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The session directly addressed WSIS action line C3 on Access to Information and Knowledge and action line C7 on E-Science.

In addition to fostering democratization of knowledge generated in ALL places, subjects and languages, the GLOALL carries a vision to promote the development of multilingual scholarly communication standards, products and services. The alliance seeks to enhance operational and subject interoperability in order to strengthen engagement with research worldwide.

Susan Murray from AJOL underscored that, “a collaboration of these regional open access platforms can provide a stronger advocacy for some of the underrepresented lifesaving information and research. An example is Ebola, it was an area of discussion in small journals and then it exploded when the crises hit. So we need ‘glocalisation’ to give visibility to local journals and local issues, especially when they can have planet-wide consequences.”

Discussing the possible ways for the GLOALL to commence its work, Tanja Niemann from ERUDIT noted, “Our engagement, the accumulated know-how and experiences are unique and of great value. We need to identify our strengths, the gaps and then come up with a bigger goal in order to foster open infrastructure and Open Science to enable a worldwide collaboration and facilitate the sharing of knowledge.”

Yasushi Ogasaka from J-STAGE highlighted how the alliance would be able to give visibility to research around Sustainable Development Goals. He stated, “The network can help countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by categorizing Global knowledge across SDG Goals. It will give enhanced visibility to Open Access research.”

Pierre Mounier from OpenEdition, stressed that, “this network can contribute to make Open Science and Open Access more inclusive and balanced between and among different cultures; can  help mutually to understand key gaps and thus develop a strategy of mutual help, and it can address inclusiveness and bibliodiversity.”

Arianna Becerril Garcia from AmeliCA, stressed that each platform has something unique to offer to the alliance and that AMELICA can, “provide technology, provide training courses, webinars and enhance know how”

Abel Packer from SciELO, Brazil shared his broader vision for the alliance as “an informal space where we converge to learn more than we give.” He imagined the alliance to have three functions, “First, advocacy about Open Access. Second, how we could develop methodologies, tools, services and solutions for platforms. Third, to jointly develop mechanisms, tools, and policies to give visibility to research.”

Welcoming the alliance, Jean-Claude Guédon, Chair of the Expert Group - Future of Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly Communication of the European Commission said, “The stakes are high: such an alliance has the potential of being the largest publishing entity in the academic publishing world. Its weight will immediately be felt, and more (and similar) groups will undoubtedly join.”

Bhanu Neupane, representing UNESCO and convener of the session stressed that, “there is a genuine need from Open Access communities for such a global alliance. This alliance will help democratize and improve access to scientific knowledge thereby strengthening efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. All stakeholders have to come together, leverage their mutual strengths and drive this alliance forward.”

In the shorter term, GLOALL will generate a unified vision for the alliance based on mutual trust; share experience, technology and know-how that can enhance and foster the development of tools, contents and practices for inclusive Open Access. It will work to improve interoperability among platforms and address language barriers for the knowledge uptake.  It will also work together to curate content that addresses SDGs.