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SOUTH AFRICA
Improved open access research platform launched
A vastly improved scheme that provides free access to African research will be launched by South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom on 22 July. The scholarly platform became a full family member of the SciELO Network Global Portal three months ago.

Since its inception in 1987 in Brazil, the online open access SciELO indexed platform has been successfully implemented in another eight countries: Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.

SciELO was first established in Africa by the Academy of Science for South Africa, or ASSAf, in 2009.

“We took a tentative step towards making scholarly publishing, and scholarly journals in particular, more accessible in a developing society to meet the demands for high-level skills in emerging economies,” Susan Veldsman, director of the scholarly publishing unit at ASSAf, told University World News.

She said the SciELO-SA collection started as a pilot in order to demonstrate its value and impact to the research community, evolving to an ‘in development’ status.

Over the past four years SciELO-SA had achieved the ‘mandatory quality criteria’ – conditions a journal has to comply with in order to be published on the platform – Veldsman explained.

The platform has also been certified as able to comply with publishing standards, periodicity, data curation and management, bandwidth and intellectual property rights, among other things.

Veldsman said this meant that all the Scientific Electronic Online Library – also known as SciELO – journals appear on the Web of Knowledge platform as the SciELO Citation Index.

SciELO-SA started appearing on the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, or WoK, in January this year. WoK’s interface will allow subscribed users to access the journal collection Web of Science, or WoS, and SciELO together, as well as other individual collections.

Veldsman said that all the search, navigation and citation metrics functions for the collections would be available together or individually, and Thomson Reuters would produce a list of citations annually that SciELO journals receive in the WoK, and in the WoS and SciELO together.

“This will allow us to have a citation rate of SciELO journals that are indexed in WoS and SciELO,” she told University World News.

The development means SciELO-SA will be recognised as an additional accredited index, as recommended by South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training in its policy and procedures for the measurement of research output of public institutions, Veldsman said.

The journals to be published on the SciELO SA platform need to be evaluated by ASSAf's peer review panels. The South African Journal of Science, published by ASSAf, was the first peer-reviewed journal to be fully open access on the SciELO-SA platform in 2009.

There are 26 journals currently available on the SciELO platform and it is expected that at least 180 of 300 South African journals will eventually be published on the platform. These include titles such as the South African Medical Journal, South African Journal of Education, Water SA and the South African Journal of Animal Science.

The intention, said Veldsman, was for SciELO-SA to “gradually grow into a platform for quality African journals”, adding that other journals from Africa that complied with the evaluation criteria could be hosted by the platform.

Veldsman stressed that SciELO-SA would benefit all researchers in South Africa by enhancing the quality, visibility and value of national research. Currently, only a small proportion of publications are indexed in international databases or accessible free and online worldwide.

“This [platform] will result in much wider stakeholder usage and collaboration among the South African, regional and global scientific communities,” she said.
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