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UNESCO’s Open Access Policy Guidelines Document lauded for its significance

On the run up to SciELO+15 event, which has been given UNESCO’s patronage for its significance to the world of Open Access, Dr Dominique Babini reviewed the usefulness of the UNESCO document entitled “Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access”.

Dr Babini noted that “the UNESCO Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access have as its objective the promotion of Open Access in all of the UNESCO Member States. These Guidelines facilitate the understanding of the most important aspects of Open Access so that countries and their institutions may evaluate their own situations with respect to scholarly communication in Open Access and select appropriate policies and link them to their national research systems.”

The guidelines were prepared with an understanding that increasing cost of access to scholarly and peer-reviewed information is a major problem for the developing countries, and is obstructing a natural development of science and technology. Open Access (OA) allows Member States to freely share the benefits of the highest levels of scholarly, peer-reviewed scientific information. Today there are approximately 400 policies at the national, institutional and funding agency level that support Open Access.

The 187th session of the Executive Board approved UNESCO’s strategy for the promotion of Open Access to scientific information and research, which was later adopted by the General Conference at its 36th session. In the framework of the overarching objective of "building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication" (34 C/4), the strategy focuses on policy development, capacity building, standard setting, partnerships and collaborations, and on playing the role of a clearing-house on Open Access as a forum for international cooperation, exchange of dialogue and reflection.

During the end of 2011, UNESCO developed and launched a document entitled “Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access”. Two years since its publication, the Guidelines have now been translated in French and Spanish, and are currently being translated in Bahasa Malay, Russian and Arabic.

As per the approved strategy, UNESCO is currently developing an Open Access Policy Generating Tool to facilitate preparation of policies, which is expected to be completed by December 2013.