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Taylor & Francis unveils open-access deal for southern Africa


Humanities and social science publisher “repurposes” read-only fees to pay for open access

Social science and humanities researchers in southern Africa will be able to publish articles for free in Taylor & Francis open-access journals under a deal announced last week.

The agreement between the UK publisher and the South African National Library and Information Consortium (SANLiC) is the publisher’s first in sub-Saharan Africa. It will allow researchers in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to publish in over 2,100 open-access journals for the next three years.

The deal, which also includes training and resources for researchers entering the open-access publishing space, was announced by Taylor & Francis on 22 March. Under the arrangement, open-access publishing will be paid by repurposing the subscription fees that institutions currently pay for researchers’ access to journal articles, said Ellen Tise, who chairs the SANLiC board.

No additional fees

Researchers from participating institutions will be able to publish in all Taylor & Francis “hybrid” open-access journals while retaining their copyright and without paying any fee, she said.

Hybrid open access is where journals that charge subscription fees give authors the option of publishing open access by paying a fee.

The agreement also covers Routledge hybrid journals, which include the University of South Africa Press and National Inquiry Services Centre co-published titles, and will allow faculty and students to read more than 1,900 humanities, social science, science and technology titles.

“When added to our 13 other such agreements, over 80 per cent of South African research traditionally published behind a paywall now has the potential to be published fully open access without additional fees,” said Tise.

Nitasha Devasar, Taylor & Francis vice-president and commercial lead for India, South Asia and Africa, said the agreement will boost “global reach, visibility and impact” for South African, Namibian and Botswanan researchers.

“At the heart of this partnership lies a commitment to championing diversity and equity in scholarly communication, particularly amplifying the voices and contributions from the Global South,” she said.

Cushioning cuts

Phethiwe Matutu, the chief executive of Universities South Africa, said the deal will help cushion universities against state funding cuts that impact library resources.

However, her predecessor, Ahmed Bawa from the University of Johannesburg, who was not involved in this agreement but worked on South Africa’s draft open-science policy in 2022, told Research Professional News that while the agreement was an important step towards open science, there was a risk of exacerbating unequal access.

“If we are to make true progress towards an open-science platform, we must recognise the need for the overhauling of the scientific publishing industry. This is very much on the agenda of the International Science Council and the International Association of Universities,” he said.