ASSAF scholarly publishing team visits SciELO in Brazil

Potential blogs

July 7-11, 2008, a delegation from the Academy of Sciences of South
Africa (
In Sao Paulo, Brazil. The
ASSAF delegation was there to review the potential for the adoption
of the
(Scientific Electronic Library Online) model as a platform to manage
scientific publication in South Africa. Given that there is a wider
African Academies of Science project to boost scholarly publishing
across Africa, this could be a spearhead for a future regional open
access network. (For background, see my
blog of 30 April

was an important visit. SciELO is a model of successful regional
collaboration to raise the profile of a developing economy region's
research publication in the face of an inequitable global system.
Given that Thomson Scientific is reported to be looking at the
question of regional journals right now, it is worth looking at a bit
of history. A similar exercise happened in 1982, at which the status
of 'peripheral' or 'Third World' journals was discussed. As
Jean-Claude Gu
describes the
in a recent publication, given the task of reviewing how
to deal with a national perspective on contributions to world
science, the national perspective was 'ultimately dismissed,
presumably as a provincial exercise of no interest to the rest of the
world. Without justification or analysis, a distinction between
“local publications” and “mainstream” or “world science”
as if it were evidence”.

live with the results of this perverse interpretation of scientific
universalism' as Guèdon describes it, as we all know.

has produced a detailed newsletter
on this visit in which Wieland
Gevers is quoted on South Africa's position in this regard:

to Wieland Gevers, among the 225 South African scientific journals,
over one hundred have never had an article cited. “South Africa
occupies a paradoxical position in the context of scientific
publication: it is simultaneously a giant within the African context
and a dwarf in the international arena”, defined Gevers. He also
added that “we are talking about a country that has nine Nobel
Prize winners, and four are related to scientific fields, including
Allan MacLeod Cormack … -the co-inventor of CAT scanning…

We watch the outcome of this initiative with great
interest. SciELO could be a powerful partner. Guèdon
describes it as probably the most  successful regional/international initiative
– it includes Portugal and Spain as well as Latin American countries
– which has the potential, he argues, 'to play a formidable role in
this battle to remove the divide barriers or, at least, lower them' .
He argues for 'strong international collaboration with well-targeted
countries to build a base for the reform of scientific power in a
credible way. These countries are quite easy to identify and have
already been mentioned before: they include China and India. Africa
must be included because it is suffering the most from the knowledge
divide that has been constantly decried, criticised and attacked in
this text.'

background from the BIREME newsletter:

has had a successful performance in Latin America and the Caribbean,
and is an outstanding reference in the process of research,
evaluation and adoption of a solution for national scientific
communication…The first portal –
Brazil collection

– started operating publicly in 1998. Since then, the SciELO project
has developed and is present in eight countries, adding up to over
550 titles of certified journals and more than 180 thousand full-text
articles available free online (open access), including original
articles, review articles, editorials and other types of

showed interest to put into practice a pilot experience with an
initial group of five South African publications in order to test the
functionalities of the SciELO platform. The BIREME was invited to
make a technical visit to South Africa in September 2008 to
demonstrate the system to the members of the Academy Advisory Board.

J., 2007. Open Access and the divide between “mainstream” and
“peripheral” science. In
Ferreira, Sueli Mara S.P. and Targino, Maria das Graças, Eds. Como gerir e qualificar revistas
. Available at: [Accessed August 3, 2008].