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Open science’s slow application leads to frustration


Adoption in South Africa slowed by lack of funding, advocate claims

[SFSA2020] One of South Africa’s top open science advocates has expressed frustration at the pace of the country’s adoption of open science principles.

Susan Veldsman, a longtime open science advocate and the director of the scholarly publishing programme at the Academy of Science of South Africa said: “I am quite frustrated because things have moved very slow.”

Veldsman was speaking during a 10 December session on open science at the Science Forum South Africa.

Veldsman argued that there has not been enough financial support for open science in South Africa, in terms of incentives both for researchers and infrastructure. 

She added that South Africa supports Plan S—the European Union’s plan for pushing open access publishing—”in principle”.

But, she said, issues of article processing fees, which many open-access journals charge authors to publish, are “highly problematic” for the country’s researchers.

Earlier this year, an editorial in BMJ Global Health warned that article processing charges create a “crisis” for African researchers by pricing them out of top journals. 

Veldsman said South Africa has a “weak and problematic” position to negotiate on global open science issues due to the large proportions of its publications published in local journals.

Aldo Stroebel, the executive director of strategic partnerships at the National Research Foundation, told the same session that the national funder is working on an “open science framework”. 

Some researchers have previously criticised the NRF for not supporting open access in their grantmaking.