The National Research Foundation (NRF) promotes and supports research in South Africa, with a view to generating knowledge and promoting high-level research capacity within the National System of Innovation. Publication of NRF-funded research outputs contributes to the knowledge base of the country, growing the knowledge economy, promoting innovation and stimulating development.
The NRF has now released a statement on open access (OA), which attests that research outputs resulting from public funds must be made freely accessible. From 1 March 2015 authors of research papers generated from research either fully or partially funded by the NRF, when submitting and publishing in academic journals, should deposit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts into the administering institution repository, with an embargo period of no more than 12 months. Earlier OA is possible, should this be allowed by the relevant publisher. If the paper is published in an OA journal or the publisher allows the deposit of the published version in PDF format, this should be deposited into the administering institutional repository and OA provided as soon as possible. In addition, data supporting the publication should be deposited in an accredited OA repository, with provision of a Digital Object Identifier (doi number) for future citation and referencing.
AOSIS Publishing, formally AOSIS OpenJournals, the largest OA specialist academic publisher in South Africa, welcomes this decision by the NRF. Said Prof. Pierre de Villers, MD of AOSIS: “I am delighted about this decision, which further bolsters the importance of OA publishing in South Africa and globally. Since publication of the first online OA journals in the late 1980s, scholarly OA publishing has accelerated and grown by leaps and bounds, with almost 10,000 OA journals currently listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, of which 67 are from South Africa (the second highest number for an African country). In South Africa at least 50% of scholarly journals already publish in OA. It is the way forward for getting research out of obscurity and into the public domain and where it can be of most use. Since it is the public that pays for the research done by the NRF, it makes sense that research outputs are made available to the public and other users through OA as swiftly as possible.”
The NRF is a signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Science and Humanities. The issue of OA has also gained impetus over the past few years with international funding agencies such as the Global Research Council (of which the NRF is a member). NRF’s statement on OA brings it into line with other international funding agencies.
The NRF also requires its relevant business units and national research facilities to actively collaborate with relevant governmental departments and public higher education and research institutions to facilitate OA of publications generated from publicly funded research. In addition, the NRF requires its stakeholder community to actively seek collaboration with the international scientific community to facilitate OA of publications generated from publicly funded research across the world.
For more information, read the NRF statement and their responses to questions issued on 19 January 2015.