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African preprint server creates info hub for coronavirus research


Grassroots contributions sought to trigger collaborations and share insights

The free preprint service AfricArXiv has created an information hub where scientists and others can add information about the novel coronavirus to help coordinate the continent’s response. 

AfricArXiv has created a Google doc and a Github repository where anyone can add resources relevant to the African context on the SARS-Cov-2 virus and its related illness Covid-19. 

That could include information such as Africa-specific or globally relevant infographics, or community action guidelines, in various languages and formats. The resource could also identify available lab equipment, like PCR machines, that could be roped into countries’ Covid-19 response efforts. 

AfricArXiv is urging researchers to submit any relevant Covid-19 research and documents as text documents so they can be put on the service’s website. The ongoing coronavirus crisis perfectly illustrates the need for open science, said Jo Havemann from AfricArXiv. 

The initiative should not be seen as owned by AfricArXiv, she said. “We aim to collaborate and are actively reaching out to other stakeholders, organisations and initiatives—grassroots as well as institutional—to serve the African societies with each partner’s expertise to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.”

Joy Owango, executive director of science communication consultancy TCC Africa and AfricArXiv project partner, said it was “unfortunate” that it took a calamity to see the importance of open science. 

Open science is still not actively promoted in some parts of the continent, she said. “Some scientists choose not to publish in open access platforms as some of the journals with high impact factors are still being used as the basis of promotion.”

“However, a platform like AfricArXiv is necessary for the visibility of African research. We should not wait for a calamity to see the importance of open science, but make it the norm,” she added.