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Open Access Skyrockets in Latin America, as the Number of Repositories Surges and Open Science Gains in Support

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Ex Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 18, 2010 | © Courtesy of verovera78/Flickr.

In recent years, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries increasingly recognize the status of scientific knowledge as a public good. The spectacular growth of Open Access in these primarily Iberoamérican countries, thus, stems from the increasing relevance of free access to research findings to both scholarly communities and non-specialist audiences.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


In his recent blog article published on June 19, 2018, Victoriano Colodrón has explored the reasons due to which, over the last decade, the rates of Open Access adoption have been exploding in Latin America. While no consensus among commentators or scholars concerning the underlying factors of the rapid growth in repository numbers exists, Latin American countries, as well as Spain and Portugal, have been playing catch-up with United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, whose shares of the global number of Open Access repositories that currently comprise 3,519 servers range from 14.2% and 5.8%. Indeed, Spain ranks 5th in the global number of repositories of which it has 3.8% (133). While Europe leads the international repository counts (1,617), South America (312) ranks fifth third after Asia (705) and North America (614). By contrast, Central America (19) has the same number of postprint or preprint servers as do Caribbean countries (19), while trailing Africa (158) and Australasia (70).

These statistics correspond to the research findings of Juan Pablo Alperin that in 2015 the rate of Open Access adoption has been estimated to range from 51% to 95% among Latin American countries. On top of this, between 2010 and 2018 the number of Open Access repositories have been found to grow spectacularly in Latin America, such as from 25 to 99 in Brazil, from 8 to 48 in Peru and from 6 to 44 in Argentina. In their chapter of a recent research report on Open Access published by UNESCO in March, 2018, Elea Giménez Toledo and Juan Felipe Córdoba Restrepo suggest that the development of Open Access in these countries is closely interrelated with scientific policy-making and the manner in which education institutions are funded, as Latin American university publishers have actively adopted Gold (54%), hybrid (19%), Green (15%) and Freemium-based (12%) Open Access. Moreover, in Latin America institutional repositories rival local publishers as Open Access platforms with a minor presence of international Open Access publishing initiatives, such as OpenEdition.

This challenges the predominance of global book and journal publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature, in this region. In this respect, Latin American university presses and repositories are increasingly spearheading the transition to Open Access in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, as 63% of South American universities have been found to have Open Access publishing programs, as concerns both books and journal articles. This is demonstrated by the Brazil-based Scientific Electronic Libraries Online (SciELO), a cooperative scientific publishing platform widely adopted in Latin America and South Africa, hosting over 1,200 scholarly journals and providing access to more than 750,000 academic papers.

Moreover, in their November 25, 2017, declaration, multiple Spanish health-sciences journal editors have expressed their support for global and European initiatives of consequential transitions to Open Access, such as Open Access 2020, expanding Open Access mandates and deemphasizing journal-level impact factors in favour of article-level impact metrics. This indicates an accelerating momentum of transitioning to Open Access in Iberoamérican countries.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Ex Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 18, 2010 | © Courtesy of verovera78/Flickr.

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