Frontiers | Open science and Big Data in South Africa

“With the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project and the new Multi-Purpose Reactor (MPR) soon coming on-line, South Africa and other collaborating countries in Africa will need to make the management, analysis, publication, and curation of “Big Scientific Data” a priority. In addition, the recent draft Open Science policy from the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) requires both Open Access to scholarly publications and research outputs, and an Open Data policy that facilitates equal opportunity of access to research data. The policy also endorses the deposit, discovery and dissemination of data and metadata in a manner consistent with the FAIR principles – making data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR). The challenge to achieve Open Science in Africa starts with open access for research publications and the provision of persistent links to the supporting data. With the deluge of research data expected from the new experimental facilities in South Africa, the problem of how to make such data FAIR takes center stage. One promising approach to make such scientific datasets more “Findable” and “Interoperable” is to rely on the Dataset representation of the vocabulary which has been endorsed by all the major search engines. The approach adds some semantic markup to Web pages and makes scientific datasets more “Findable” by search engines. This paper does not address all aspects of the Open Science agenda but instead is focused on the management and analysis challenges of the “Big Scientific Data” that will be produced by the SKA project. The paper summarizes the role of the SKA Regional Centers (SRCs) and then discusses the goal of ensuring reproducibility for the SKA data products. Experiments at the new MPR neutron source will also have to conform to the DSI’s Open Science policy. The Open Science and FAIR data practices used at the ISIS Neutron source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK are then briefly described. The paper concludes with some remarks about the important role of interdisciplinary teams of research software engineers, data engineers and research librarians in research data management.”

Call for proposals – Open Repositories 2023

Repositories unlocked for discovery and interoperability

The web was designed as an information space with the goal that it should be useful not only for human-human communication, but also to allow communication facilitated by machines. The OR2023 conference will focus on the practices of the international repositories community to develop and implement the standards, frameworks, architectures, and methodologies for open repositories to serve as knowledge representation databases for the structured web of data.

Invitation to participate
OR2023 will provide an opportunity to explore and reflect on the ways repositories enable discoverability and interoperability of information and data within the structured web of data. How can we better utilize repositories for machine interoperability? How can we develop the capacity of institutions to implement sustainable open repositories to improve data equity worldwide?…”

Wits University partners with ChronosHub to implement an automated APC management system | STM Publishing News

“Over the last decade, Wits has more than tripled the number of research outputs published annually, with the share of Open Access (OA) publications increasing even faster. Today, about 50% of Wits’ more than 3,000 research articles are gold or hybrid OA, which require complex processes for handling payments of Article Processing Charges (APCs). 

Through the ChronosHub platform, Wits will automate much of the otherwise manual work required to manage the APC invoices. Data collection is facilitated through many integrations with publisher systems combined with AI-technology for scanning invoices. This gives Wits an overview of all APC funding requests across all publishers on a single approval dashboard directly highlighting which approval criteria that are met or not for each invoice. Upon approval, ChronosHub also pays the publishers directly instead of the authors going through a complicated reimbursement process….”

Open Repositories 2023 –

“It is with pleasure that we invite you to the 18th Open Repositories Conference (OR 2023). The conference will be held from 12-15 June 2023 at the Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West, close to Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The theme for the conference will be Repositories unlocked for machine and humankind.

More information on the theme and the Call for Papers will be made available in forthcoming announcements….”

A Fair Pricing Model for Open Access

“A pay-per-article publishing model raises issues of regional and global equity. In Europe, the implied price per article in transformative agreements varies from one country to another, based on no rationale other than historical subscription spending. Globally, APCs for individual open-access articles are identical for customers from Norway to India, irrespective of their income levels.

This is a peculiar and possibly unique global pricing model. The local prices of products and services with a global reach—think of medication, soft drinks or cinema tickets—typically vary with local purchasing power. They cost what the market can bear. Even old-fashioned subscriptions take local purchasing power into account, leading to differentiated prices for the same service.

It is unclear why APCs and transformative agreements are not priced as a function of what local markets can bear. The consequence, however, is stark: for the most part, researchers and institutions based in lower- and middle-income countries simply cannot afford either of these pay-per-article models. While some of these countries have negotiated cost-neutral transformative agreements, it is not clear whether these are equitable in terms of local purchasing power.

In much of the world, the money is not there to pay APCs geared to the richest nations—especially as APCs have consistently risen faster than inflation. Countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development spend an average of 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D. For the United States, the figure is 3.5 per cent. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, the average is 0.7 per cent, while South Africa’s figure of 0.75 per cent is well above the continent’s average of just 0.4 per cent….”

2022 Open Distance and e-Learning Virtual Conference

“One of the most exciting aspects of research on open distance and e-learning (ODeL) is that there is still so much to be discovered. Despite an exponential increase in research on ODeL worldwide and in South Africa over the past decade, researchers are still not only scratching the surface of the possibilities that beckon in this vital field, but are also grappling with the complexities of ensuring effective teaching and supporting student success and retention. There is vast scope for inquiring minds to set a research agenda in ODeL and generate findings that can help shape people’s futures for the better….”


U.S., EU, India, S.Africa reach compromise on COVID vaccine IP waiver text | Reuters

“The United States, European Union, India and South Africa have reached a consensus on key elements of a long-sought intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, according to a proposed text reviewed by Reuters.

Sources familiar with the talks described the text as a tentative agreement among the four World Trade Organization members that still needs formal approvals from the parties before it can be considered official. Any agreement must be accepted by the WTO’s 164 member countries in order to be adopted….

The document authorizes use of “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines without the consent of the right holder to the extent necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic”.

It said IP rights would also be waived for ingredients and processes necessary for COVID-19 vaccine manufacture, a move aimed at granting critical know-how to many countries lacking expertise, especially for advanced mRNA-type vaccines….”

Simplicity, flexibility, equity – IFLA submits comments on South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill – IFLA

“IFLA has responded to a call for comments on the South African Copyright Amendment Bill, highlighting the need to reject proposals that will have a chilling effect on the work of libraries, and deepen divisions in terms of access to education, knowledge and culture.”

Virtual Stakeholder Workshop to consult on the draft South African Open Science Policy – 22.02.22 – YouTube

“The successful development of the South African Open Science Policy is contingent on broad-based consultations and inputs from stakeholders across the entire National System of Innovation. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Universities South Africa (USAf), is hosting the online Stakeholder Workshop to facilitate this broad-based consultation….”

South Africa’s draft open science policy promises shake-up – Research Professional News

“All publicly-funded research conducted in South Africa will have to be published in open access journals under a draft national open science policy released this week.

The draft was published on 15 February by the Academy of Science of South Africa, ahead of a workshop to discuss it on 22 February. It was drawn up under the leadership of Ahmed Bawa, the chief executive of Universities South Africa….

The draft policy suggests the establishment of a “national forum” to promote best practice in open science. Researchers will also be offered as-yet unspecified incentives to encourage them to publish in open-access journals….

The policy recommends that a national agency be established to curate publicly-funded research data. Also on the cards is a “federated open science infrastructure” which will make it easier for everyone to access research outputs….

Virtual Stakeholder Workshop to Consult on the Draft South African Open Science Policy

“The  development of the South African Open Science Policy is contingent on broad-based consultations and inputs from stakeholders across the entire NSI.To facilitate this broad-based consultation, the DSI, Universities South Africa and ASSAf, invites you to an online stakeholder workshop.”

UCT Open Textbook Journeys | UCT Libraries

Abstract:  The UCT Open Textbook Journeys monograph tells the stories of 11 academics at the University of Cape Town who embarked on open textbook development initiatives in order to provide their students with more accessible and locally relevant learning materials. Produced by the Digital Open Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) initiative, the monograph contributes towards a better understanding of open textbook production by providing details related to authors’ processes and their reflections on their work. The collection aims to provide rich anecdotal evidence about the factors driving open textbook activity and shed light on how to go about conceptualising and producing open textbooks, and to aid the articulation of emerging open textbook production models that advance social justice in higher education.


Scientists sharing Omicron data were heroic. Let’s ensure they don’t regret it | Jeffrey Barrett | The Guardian

“The global scientific community has also carried out “genomic surveillance” – sequencing the genome of the virus to track how it evolves and spreads at an unprecedented level: the public genome database has more than 5.5m genomes. The great value of that genomic surveillance, underpinned by a commitment to rapid and open sharing of the data by all countries in near-real time, has been seen in the last few days as we’ve learned of the Covid variant called Omicron. 

The surveillance requires a remarkable amount of cooperation between scientists to build compatible laboratory protocols, software systems and databases. Many of these scientists are not directly paid for this work and do it in addition to their existing jobs. They are motivated by a belief that sharing data relevant to public health, especially in a pandemic, can help speed up scientific understanding, aid in decision-making and contribute to the next generation of medicines.

This commitment to rapid data sharing has deep roots in genomics. At a 1996 summit in Bermuda, the leaders of the Human Genome Project established a set of principles to release a new DNA sequence to public databases within 24 hours. This approach departed from the established convention that experimental data only needed to be released when a study was published, months or years later. Sir John Sulston, founding director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “All of this [genome data] should be in the public domain… I think we need a public social welfare attitude to the use of this information.”


That attitude now prevails around the world, as evidenced by the rapid sharing of more than 1m Sars-CoV-2 sequences by the Sanger Institute since March 2020….”

An analysis of research output in open access journals in BRICS countries: a bibliometric study | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the current status of research output published in open access (OA) journals from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries from 2010 to 2019 and compare their performances in terms of OA research output.


Papers contributed by the researchers of BRICS countries were searched using an advanced search option in the Web of Science core collection database. The retrieved results were restricted to the “journal articles” published in the “English language” during the time period of 2010 to 2019. After that, the selected papers were again refined by using the “open access” section to identify the research output of BRICS countries published in OA journals.


Total 2,219,943 papers were published from BRICS countries, out of which 402,199 articles were published in OA journals and South Africa has published the highest number of research output in OA journals (31%). Although, there has been a constant increasing growth of research output published in OA journals in BRICS countries from 13,300 papers in 2010 to 82,310 articles in 2019. Engineering and Technology have published the maximum number of papers in OA journals. Researchers of BRICS countries mostly contributed their OA research output in journals published from the USA and Scientific Reports (UK) is identified as one of the leading OA journals. Additionally, among all the BRICS countries, China is found as the promising leader in terms of OA journals publications, the maximum share i.e. 71.25 per cent of total 402,199 OA journal publications have been produced by the highest number 137 (23.41%) of institutions of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) is leading institution with 39,036 papers published in OA journals.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to BRICS countries, but it offers theoretical implications for extending its scope to different countries. This study may be used for raising awareness of OA among researchers of BRICS countries and encouraging them to contribute their research work in OA journals. The findings of this study are useful and meaningful in understanding the comparative status of research across countries, disciplines, journals and institutions.


This is the first study in BRICS countries focusing on the research output published in OA journals.

Open Access Week 2021 colloquium | North-West University Libraries, South Africa | 26 October | virtual

“International Open Access Week, a global event now entering its fourteenth year, is an opportunity for open access advocates to engage the research communities to inform them about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they have learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.    

Programme: 26 October 2021

Words of welcome –  Ms. Neli Kaunda, Director: Shared Services, NWU

Opening address – Prof. Jeffrey Mphahlele, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, NWU

The LIS Open Access Initiatives and technologies

Dr. Mathew Moyo, Chief Director: Library and Information Service, NWU

The role of universities in opening up access through Open Educational Resources

Prof. Jako Olivier, UNESCO Research Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources, NWU…”