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[BOAI] Re: Dominique Babini on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done?

From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Gu=E9don_Jean-Claude?= <jean.claude.guedon AT>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2013 16:05:02 -0400

Threading: [BOAI] Dominique Babini on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done? from richard.poynder AT
      • This Message

I cannot disguise a certain degree of myrth in reading Richard Poynder's 
introduction to Dominique Babini's interview. While I commend Richard for 
moving beyond the usual suspects, I cannot help adding: well, hello! Nice to 
see that you are waking up to the realities of the contemporary world.  By the 
way, according to the World Bank, Brazil is closing in on the UK's GDP, India 
has passed Canada and Mexico is closing in on Spain. Oh, and I forgot, China is 
more than half of the US and the UK is only the third largest economy in the 
European Union.

Richard states that he has never seen clearly how the "stakeholders" 
in developing nations (euphemism for poor and dominated nations) could have a 
perspective that differed from that of OECD-based researchers and journalists. 
The difference lies in the fact that while, in OECD countries, we keep on 
talking about excellence and quality (without mentioning that we carefully 
control the tools that are used to justify our judgements, for example the 
impact factor), poor countries live this situation as exclusion and 
marginalization. There are no stakeholders in poor countries, simply because 
you hold no stake when you are live on the marches of the global empire. You 
try to survive, to find a small place in the sun. As a result, our 
"globalized" world harbours not only "neglected diseases", 
but also "neglected science". Dominique Babini, a wonderful person, 
by the way, and a dear friend, is close to people who overlook a vetted list of 
6,000 journals that are regularly disregarded by OECD researchers, against all 
methodological precepts of heuristics. If it is not in the Web of Science, it 
does not count....

Several of us in the "North", such as Barbara Kirsop and Leslie Chan, 
as well as the eIFL crowd (Iryna Kuchma in particular) have been voicing these 
concerns for years now, only to be met with the "not quite 
understanding" understatement that Richard uses to introduce his (welcomed 
and belated) initiative. Names such as "RedALyC", "SciELO" 
(which will celebrate its 15th anniversary in October) and Latindex have been 
invoked many times in debates that are much more than the "excitable 
babble" (according to Richard) surrounding open access debates.

Yes, Richard, do open up to Third World or poor countries that, nonetheless, 
are becoming more important all the time. The likes of Dominique Babini, Eve 
Gray (in South Africa), Subbiah Arunachalam (India), Abel Packer (SciELO, 
Brazil), Sueli Ferreira (Brazil), Jacinto Dávila (Venezuela), Ana Maria Cetto 
(Mexico) and Eduardo Aguado (RedALyc, Mexico) are good candidates for your 
Q&A. I doubt many will have anything to say about the provincialism 
inherent in issue such as Finch, RCUK, etc... The recently (Dec. 2012) 
inaugurated repository network, La Referencia 
( is yet another example of emerging 
Latin American cooperation achieved through public money and many volunteers. 
It now links up with Open AIRE, a European Commission pilot project based on 
repositories in nearly thirty countries. Florencio Utreras, director of Red 
Clara, would be another good candidate for your Q&A. And, in the area of 
doctoral dissertations, Cibertesis (with Gabriela Ortúzar in Chile) would also 
deserve a hearing: Cibertesis is connected with NDLTD, by the way, and they 
certainly will not listen to the absurd recommendations about six-year 
embargoes enunciated recently by the American Historical Association.

In the OECD countries, we have been mesmerized by neo-liberalism since the 
Reagan-Thatcher era. Hayek has become a cult in some quarters. No one seems to 
admit or realize that letting markets run free and wild generally results in 
increasing inequality; yet, this is what we are observing in OECD countries in 
general, in the US and the UK in particular. Unconvinced readers are gently 
referred to Tony Judt's excellent study, "Ill Fares the Land". This 
growing inequality is not limited to social strata (some would use the word 
"class" in this context) in rich countries; it extends to the whole 
world. And the solution is not to express surprise whenever someone proposes a 
solution that is not based on market mechanisms; in fact, scientific 
communication is no more amenable to market forces than research itself, and 
this simply by virtue of being an integral part of the research process. And 
when Eloy Rodrigues is wondering whether the future of scientific communication 
belongs to publishers or to researcher, I do not think he is merely laying out 
two possible scenarios; I believe he is actually expressing a deep fear of 
seeing publishers set the agenda of scientific communication. How can they do 
that? In a wide variety of ways, but one example will begin to provide an idea 
of what Eloy is speaking about: an economic association had entrusted its 
journal to Elsevier. They wanted to change the editor or editors, but Elsevier 
refused, and Elsevier owned the name of the journal. The association had to 
found a new journal to do as it wanted. Now, founding a new journal is not a 
trivial or an easy task, and meddling with editors is meddling with editorial 
orientation, and, therefore, content. Do we want to see commercial publishers 
meddle with the content of scientific communication? My personal answer is: 
Hell, no!

I will end by thanking Dominique Babini and all her wonderful colleagues who 
belong to the vast majority of humanity for what they are doing in Latin 
America, India, Africa, Asia. As for us, OECD-country dwellers, let us try to 
be a little less mesmerized by our own navels, and let us listen more 
attentively to the rest of the world. Let us also try to understand better, and 
let us try to help under their guidance, and not any patronizing perspective. 
And, miracle of miracle, let us learn from them and let us imitate their best 
practices. It will strengthen them, and it will help us.

Jean-Claude Guédon
Professeur titulaire
Littérature comparée
Université de Montréal

-----Original Message-----
From: boai-forum-bounces AT on behalf of Richard Poynder
Sent: Fri 7/26/2013 4:23 AM
To: boai-forum AT
Subject: [BOAI]  Dominique Babini on the state of Open Access: Where are 
we,what still needs to be done?
The ninth Q&A in a series exploring the current state of Open Access (OA)
has been published. On this occasion the questions are answered by Dominique
Babini, Open Access Advocacy leader at the Latin American Council on Social
Sciences (CLACSO). Based in Argentina, CLACSO is an academic network of 345
social science institutions, mainly in the universities of 21 of the
region's countries.


In inviting people to take part in this Q&A series I have been conscious
that much of the discussion about Open Access still tends to be dominated by
those based in the developed world; or at least developing world voices are
often drowned out by the excitable babble of agreement, disagreement, and
frequent stalemate, that characterises the Open Access debate.


It has therefore never been entirely clear to me how stakeholders in the
developing world view OA, and whether their views differ greatly from those
that have dominated the OA conversation since it began in around 1994. In
the hope of gaining a better understanding I plan to invite a number of
people based in the developing world to take part in this series.


To start the ball rolling I have published a Q&A with Dominique Babini, who
is based at the University of Buenos Aires. Readers will judge for
themselves how, and to what extent, Babini's views differ from those we hear
so often from those based in, say, North America or Europe.


The Q&A can be read here:


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