The international visibility of South African research is poised for a boost, thanks to the establishment of an open-access platform for high-quality local scholarly journals.
Funded by the department of science and technology, the Academy of Science of South Africa (Assaf) is leading the establishment of the open-access platform that will be known as Scientific Electronic Online Library (SciELO) South Africa.
The platform will enable users worldwide to access a wide range of the top peer-reviewed South African academic journals in full on the internet, at no cost. The project is led by Susan Veldsman, a specialist in the field of open access, who has been appointed director of the publishing unit.
The articles are in digital format, available online at no cost and free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. The project is inspired by a wide-reaching movement towards the implementation of online journals, pioneered by the SciELO project, based in Brazil. This fully indexed platform has been implemented successfully in eight countries, mostly in Latin America, with others being in the developmental phases. SciELO South Africa will be the first site of this growing system in Africa.
SciELO focuses on developing countries where few citizens have access to traditional peer-reviewed academic journals in printed form. Journals are the primary vehicle for communicating the most current scientific findings to the public. This leads to a low rate of usage of these publications and to the phenomenon known as ‘lost science”.
Creating an open-access platform for these journals will assist in overcoming the obstacles of price and accessibility and will enhance the international visibility of South African research. Each journal considered for inclusion is required to conform to stringent quality-control standards, ensuring that only the best journals are published. Usage by scholars and scientists is monitored by the indexing system in various ways, including journal impact factors and article citation and download statistics.
‘South African researchers will have the ability to be more competitive in an international context. SciELO South Africa can bring about real change in our country,” says Veldsman.