Normalising Pre-prints: The MENA Dialogue

“This workshop introduces participants to Open Science practices with a special focus on pre-prints in the MENA region, looking at what they offer to researchers and to the scientific community as a whole.

Pre-prints are complete written descriptions of research outputs that authors are willing to make public. They include submissions under review and those that have been rejected or not submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. While the concept of pre-prints was initially contentious, the need for rapid evaluation and dissemination of vitally important research during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of the Open Access movement and encouraged the growth of pre-print publications for rapid and open sharing of new findings and receiving feedback….”

Scholarly Publishing and Peer-review in Times of Crisis: An Overview |

Abstract:  We present the main conclusions, lessons learned, and recommendations of the work carried out in the COVID-19 Rapid Review Initiative, published in a detailed report ( 17125394.v1), prepared by the Research-on-Research Institute (RoRI, in collaboration with researchers, publishers, and other scholarly communication experts.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of an effective scholarly communication system. Traditional scholarly communication channels, particularly peer-reviewed journals, have been put under pressure to deal with Covid-19-related research in a timely way. At the same time, some alternative channels of scholarly communication have received more attention during the pandemic, partly in terms of the role they can play in easing pressure on traditional publication channels. One major alternative channel of scholarly communication is that of preprints. Preprints have become an essential part of the communication of research about Covid-19, but concerns remain about quality assurance, which is clearly associated with the recent emergence of new projects that streamline evaluative peer interactions (e.g., comments, recommendations, reviews) on Covid-19 preprints.

These innovative projects center on providing a more transparent and rapid peer review process, improving the scientific publication workflow, offering different publication options to authors, and ensuring that research (Covid-19 or non-Covid-19) becomes more widely available, more transparent, and credible. Based on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 Rapid Review Initiative, we discuss the challenges and opportunities that these projects create for different stakeholders, especially researchers, publishers, funding agencies, and science policymakers, both in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Full article: Open Access Initiatives in Western Asia

Abstract:  This paper highlights open access activities and resources from Western Asia. The development of open access journals from this region is analyzed through regional listings in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and information about the development and implementation of open access repositories is taken from the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) platform. Additional information about OA resources and development projects was found through UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal. The study’s findings show that, even with support from international groups like EIFL and OpenAIRE, the region’s open access market lags behind that of more developed countries. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stand out among Western Asian states, and Cyprus took the important step of instituting a national public open access policy. Awareness projects and workshops will be a vital step in helping the countries of Western Asia to see the value of open access and to build a stronger OA infrastructure.


Statement on Collection Development, Access, and Equity in the time of COVID-19

“As is the case in Latin America and the Caribbean and elsewhere across the Global South, the majority of publications from the Middle East (Southwest Asia), North Africa and the diasporas are print-only, and are not available in electronic formats. Therefore, collecting policies which prefer electronic acquisitions at the expense of print risk excluding from their growing collections a significant portion of the cultural and scholarly production of these regions. Such policies threaten the diversity of representation in library collections by further marginalizing already marginalized voices….

We are particularly concerned that research materials and resources will be concentrated in a handful of wealthy, often private, institutions.  Commitment to area studies in general and to Middle East studies librarianship in particular is also instrumental for maintaining diverse and inclusive collections that reflect and support the wide ranging scholarly and creative interests of our users.”