Open access is a movement based on the principle of research being a public good and thus scholarly works are made freely accessible online without any financial or technical barriers. However, as open access intersects with other areas such as elements of scholarly communication, science policy, and commercial publishing, OA is currently far from being equitable.
Moreover, scientific studies on OA have often failed to consider the particularities of countries that tend to fall between the Global North and Global South. Drawing a real picture of OA phenomena and achieving equitable access and publishing of scientific research also requires covering local experiences. Mohamed Boufarss’s doctoral dissertation addresses these phenomena from the UAE perspective.
“The metadata sources and tools used in studies on open access – such as Unpaywall, DOAJ, Scopus or WebOS – are Eurocentric and have major biases against non-English language, local research, and some disciplines. In the assessment of scientific outputs, this translates into a distorted global image of open access and a disadvantage for many countries,” says Boufarss.
The issue is also coupled with problems of equity. Many researchers and countries that have been unable to afford access costs are now unable to pay publishing fees. This creates a shift from ‘a barrier to access’ to ‘a barrier to participation’, a phenomenon engendered by the increasing adoption of gold open access. Gold open access means that a published article is directly and freely available online.
“While increased awareness, national science policy, and local stakeholders’ support are paramount for a successful open access uptake, increased international research co-authorship seems to have a strong correlation with increased open access adoption. Thus, individual researchers, institutions and states should endeavour to internationalise their research projects and introduce policies that promote transnational collaboration,” Boufarss points out.
Focusing the research of a global phenomenon – such as open access – on a local perspective can have several significant implications for local research, policy, and practice. Boufarss’s study is likely to influence the UAE science policy to adopt approaches that are more favourable to open access and open science. The study will also have an impact on researchers and librarians, the practices of research management agencies and attitudes to open access.
Public defence on Friday 15 December 2023
The doctoral dissertation of M.App.Sc. (Library & Information Management) Mohamed Boufarss in the field of Information Studies and Interactive Media titled Engaging with Open Access Locally and Internationally: A holistic and longitudinal study of the United Arab Emirates academic publishing landscape will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Friday 15 December 2023. The venue is auditorium D11 of Päätalo on the city centre campus (address: Kalevantie 4). The Opponent will be Professor Gunnar Sivertsen from the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) in Norway. The Custos will be Professor J. Tuomas Harviainen from Tampere University.
Photo: Omar Mohammed