Open Access South Africa: Starting a Student Network

Uvania Naidoo (from UCT) and I (from NMMU) attended OpenCon 2014 in Washington DC this November. The conference brought 175 students and early-stage researchers involved in Open Access, Open Data and Open Education together. The Open Movement is driven by the belief that access to scholarly research, educational and medical resources should be freely accessible, reusable and easily distributed. A number of student-led open access projects from Nigeria, Kenya and Nepal were highlighted during the conference. There is currently no South African network, meaning that student advocates like myself and Uvania have felt isolated and have had no real means of connecting with other students with similar interests.

Accordingly, we propose to set up a nation-wide co-ordination network in South Africa: Open Access South Africa. Any students, at any institution in the country, interested in promoting or finding out more about Open Access, Open Data and Open Educational Resources are more than welcome to get in touch, which will enable us as students to co-ordinate action and support each other across campuses and institutions throughout South Africa. Once we have established said network, we hope to approach the Department of Education to discuss nationwide OA policy.

Contact details:
Twitter: @OASouthAfrica
E-mail: oasouthafrica@gmail.com

5 Comments

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  1. Congratulations with this initiative, which I am personally very excited about! You can count on my support in terms of whatever it is you are planning. Lots of work has been done on university level already, and the Academy of Science of SA (DHET) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) (DST) also have some initiatives going. LIASA (Library and Information Association of South Africa) has adopted OA Week during October as an official project. Looking forward to see great progress from students in this regard. Yes – we do indeed need a national policy.

    • Hi Ina,

      At present, what we are trying to do is make contact with students at various institutions who have an interest in Open*. So one of the most helpful things that you could do is, if you know of any students who are, please ask them to get in touch with us so that we can start coordinating and supporting each other.

      Thanks for your kind comments, and I am sure that we will be in touch in the future.

      M

      • I have shared your request with academic libraries in SA, and also with people at library schools. You might also want to make contact with the Open Source community in SA, as well as Creative Commons SA. We have an informal mailing list which we use to communicate OA issues, and you are most welcome to join! See http://lists.lib.sun.ac.za/mailman/listinfo/irtalk We need young researchers and students desperately, and working in OA for almost 10 years now, this is the first student initiative I am aware of (in SA) …. Many students work in the filed of Open Source, but not that many in keeping research open. Also check out the Right to Research Coalition (USA SPARC OA Student initiative http://www.righttoresearch.org/). We hope to establish a SPARC Africa Chapter, and are working on it …… Thanks for taking the bold step, and please stay in touch.

    • Awesome, thanks.

      We are aware of Right to Research and SPARC who were a big part at OpenCon. Joining with them is something that I have thought about, but I think it is a bit premature for now. They do know what we are planning, but feel a formal step is a bit early.

      Much of the open community that I am aware of in South Africa is focused on Open Government, rather than in the scholarly sphere.

      Thanks for the support, and I will definitely sign up for the Stellies list.

  2. Jeremiah Pietersen

    I agree with Ina, great initiative. I am happy to provide support also. I am a student at UCT. Currently I am finishing off my Master of Library and Information Studies. One of my research interests in Open Access in Academic Libraries. I met Heather at a conference last year (the LIASA 16th Annual Conference). She’s told me, through twitter, about your initiative. I will be involved in teaching in my academic department this year, so I will definitely advocate to other students who have an interest in Open.

    Please let me know how I can get involved.

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