As members of the National University of La Plata, having institutional responsibilities as regards visibility of scientific production, we express our concern for the decision made by the country’s Ministerio de Educación, Cultura, Ciencia y Tecnología of actively participating in Coalition S, an international alliance that encourages open access to scientific and scholarly publications but via a “pay-for-publishing” model (APC). Joining such system means to spend millions when is not necessary, such money is obtained through research public funds.
As explained by Arianna Becerril, we consider that what Coalition S proposes to attain Open Access encourages a model that maintains article processing charges, and therefore, it maintains the closed and selective system in favour of commercial databases. While for Argentina this model costs upwards of 20m dollars per year, numerous are the institutions of international prestige in Europe and America that have questioned it, modifying or rejecting commercial agreements with the main publishing firms.
From our perspective, which we held and share with numerous institutions from the region and the world, we believe that it is necessary to guarantee, especially from public institutions, Open Access to our knowledge through free publishing and free access. In other words, available and free for readers and authors. From several years now, the National University of La Plata stands as a pioneer on this, on the continual search for the democratization of knowledge.
Concerned we observe how researchers, financed by our citizens through the State, ought to pay in order to have their researches published in journals from international commercial publishers, which privatise and restrict access to such publications. Even though Coalition S has its discourse on Open Access and represents the rearrangement of a model that is very questioned in the international scientific community, as stated by Humberto Debat and Dominique Babini, we understand that it maintains restrictive practices.
We are particularly concerned because the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura, Ciencia y Tecnología of Argentina signed the “JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ. XI Joint Steering Committee Meeting of the Bilateral Agreement on Science and Technology between the European Union and Argentina” last 7 June 2019.
There the representatives from the European Union and Argentina consider that: “Having stressed the commitment to search for common approaches for research and innovation, and particularly, for open access, Argentina joins Coalition S, the global coalition that encourages open access to scientific output. Argentina expressed its interest to promote a regional initiative on this subject among Latin American and Caribbean countries.”
As we have said, our university has a centenarian tradition of publication and is a pioneer in Argentina in developing a policy of dissemination of its scientific community’s research output via open access repositories and journals. In this sense, the National University of La Plata is founder of the initiative Ameli Open Knowledge together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), the Network of Scientific Journals from Latin America and the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal (Redalyc), the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) and the Universidad de Antioquia (UdeA). Currently, this initiative of high impact for the region is being developed.
Through the collaborative work of these institutions with Redalyc, which is being rearranged as declared by Aguado, Becerril and Chávez, we are progressing towards a model of scientific and scholarly journal management destined to rebuild the spaces of visibility which have become legitimacy and exclusion spaces, in order to create a project for the communication of critical thinking able to respond with alternatives to dissemination, building of networks, analysis, training, and technology for the process of scientific publishing.
Guillermo Banzato and Cecilia Rozemblum have demonstrated how this management model, adopted by AmeliCA, is able to publish journals of scientific and editorial quality with fewer resources, same efficiency, greater visibility and in Open Access as it should be: available and free for readers and authors.
We esteem that in the scientific Argentinian system the management and assessment model of research output should be deeply debated, taking into account the conditions of productivity, technological developments and the training of professionals, as well as the resources destined to support a sovereign system of scientific production, editing and assessment.