ASSAf celebrates Open Access week

ASSAf celebrates Open Access week

Open Access week is a global event now in its tenth year, during which ASSAf, along with research organisations worldwide, took stock and explored opportunities to increasingly make Open Access the norm for conducting science, research and publishing.

Also, through better understanding who our audiences include when promoting Open Access. This linked to the theme of this year’s International Open Access Week, from 19 to 25 October, which was “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.”

ASSAf hosted 4 webinars during that week. All of them included lively question and answer sessions.                     

The series of webinars kicked off with a presentation by Prof Cameron Neylon from Curtin University, Australia on 20 October, providing a regional perspective through his presentation on “Global Open Access to Scholarly Literature: Progress and Evidence of African Leadership”. According to Prof Neylon, there is accumulating evidence of large-scale global progress towards open access, with most current estimates placing the proportion of scholarly content that is freely available to read at around 50%. This progress has been accompanied with significant debate on the most efficient, most affordable, and most equitable routes towards a goal of 100%. Relatively little attention has been paid to how different regions and countries are achieving open access and the different routes they are taking. In this talk Prof Neylon discussed global progress, and evidence that far from following that progress, many African institutions are leading it, with measured open access levels amongst the highest in the world. Access the slides and recording (DOI: 

The above regional perspective of the leadership role Africa plays in terms of Open Access was followed by a session on the South African Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act. On 22 October Professor Himla Soodyall, the Executive Officer of ASSAf, chaired a Forum on the topic “The POPI Act (POPIA) – The need for a single Code of Conduct for Research and a discussion of key issues to be addressed in the Code”. Access the slides.

Still focusing on South Africa, Professor Ahmed Bawa from Universities South Africa (USAf) on 23 October 2020 presented on “The Open Science Agenda and Framework for South Africa/South African Open Science Adventures” on 23 October 2020. He shared progress made on an Open Science Policy for South Africa, a process driven by the SA Department of Science and Innovation, of which the White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2019) was a major outcome. Access the slides.

The activities for the week were concluded with an overview of the African Scientists Directory, presented by Dr Richard Glover (International Science Council: Regional Office for Africa) and Ina Smith (ASSAf). The directory fulfils the need for showcasing the cream of African scientists and their research with the rest of the world. At the same time it also aims to advance collaboration among north-south and south-south. African scientists are invited to register their profiles on this directory. Once registered, a profile can be created, which will be reviewed for publication in the directory. Also refer to an article by University World News: Africa Edition, for an account of the webinar: African Scientists Directory fosters collaboration, counters populism. Access the slides.

The four ASSAf OA Week 2020 webinars were collectively attended by more than 600 participants.

We would like to make use of this opportunity to thank all our presenters and attendees for making ASSAf Open Access Week 2020 a huge success.