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Open Access: A doorway to opened knowledge.

The Department of Library Services, University of Pretoria, on Wednesday 24 October 2018, joined its counterparts across the world to celebrate the Open Access Week 2018. Participants from different academic departments and professional backgrounds attended the discussion focusing on “Open access: Are researchers the only losers? “The event was held at the Merensky 2 Library Auditorium at the University of Pretoria and it started with a screened Documentary Movie, titled, “Paywall: the business of scholarship”.

The Movie, produced and directed by Jason Schmidt, a professor at Clarkson University, focuses on the need for open access to research, raises questions regarding the rationale behind the US$25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit publishers. It also examines the 35-40{4b05898ae60f9b5e2d93b69cb2027f6f0d06dfa7d8f8611bbe8472c2532adfa6} profit margin associated with top academic publisher Elsevier and compares this with the profit margins of some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google.

The panellists for the occasion were: Mr. Glenn Truran: Director of the South African National Library and Information Consortium (SANLiC), Prof. Andries van Aarde: Senior Research Fellow in the Dean’s office (Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria), Ms. Susan Veldsman: Director: Scholarly Publication Unit (Academy of Sciences in South Africa), Prof. Nithaya Chetty: Professor in the Department of Physics (University of Pretoria) and Mr. Dickson Ajisafe: Doctoral candidate at the Department of Political Sciences (University of Pretoria). The panel discussion was moderated with a warm welcome by Mr Robert Moropa, University of Pretoria’s Library Director and the documentary session was coordinated by Mrs Marguerite Nel, UP Information Specialist.

Reacting during the forum, Mr Glenn Truran raised a concern that South Africa pays more for access to research papers than some European countries do. Prof. Andries van Aarde criticised the handling of APC (Author Processing Charges) at the University of Pretoria and warned that this should not turn to another form of Paywall. He further queried that why should impact factor of publishing in a particular Journal, become a condition of accessing APC at UP for researchers? Expressing her view on Open Access, Susan Veldsman discussed the significance, accessibility and visibility of publishing research papers on the SCIELO SA platform. SCIELO SA is an open-access (free to access and free to publish) searchable database of selected, high quality South African scholarly journals. Representing the student voice during the occasion, Mr Dickson Ajisafe remarked that Open Access unquestionably remains a channel for postgraduate researchers to make their voices known to a wider community. He further motivated the UP Department of Library Services to make Open Access information to be more accessible to the postgraduate community at the University of Pretoria. The event was wrapped up with words of appreciation by Mr Robert Moropa, the UP Library Director.


Mr Dickson Ajisafe (with microphone) speaking at the Open Access Week 2018.


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