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Experts emphasize open science and equitable publishing for UN development goals -

In a virtual discussion held on May 3, experts underscored the crucial role of embracing open science and creating equitable scholarly publishing ecosystems to address global challenges and support the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs). The event, hosted by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library and UNESCO, focused on expanding access to scientific knowledge and the necessity of a Global Science Commons as outlined in the UN's 2030 Agenda.

Meg Wacha, Scholarly Communications Officer at UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library and event moderator, highlighted the foundational importance of information access for sustainable development goals. She emphasized that open science can contribute significantly to expanding global knowledge and tackling pressing issues, as evidenced by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panelists stressed the need to go beyond providing access to scholarly articles and data. They called for a comprehensive re-evaluation of knowledge-sharing pathways, including assessing who can contribute to global knowledge, supporting infrastructure for regional and global knowledge development and distribution, and redefining the value and perception of information.

During the event, Chris Bourg, MIT Director of Libraries, highlighted MIT's long-standing commitment to openness and equity. MIT's adoption of an open access policy in 2009 and the establishment of a robust open repository, housing over 50,000 scientific and scholarly articles, demonstrated the institution's dedication to advancing equity in publishing. Bourg emphasized MIT's framework of value-based principles, guiding their negotiations with publishers and leading them to walk away from agreements that do not align with their principles.

Approximately 60% of articles published by MIT faculty members are now openly available, and the library actively supports open access publishing, funds open monograph projects, and awards open data prizes. Inspired by recent U.S. government initiatives requiring open access to federally funded research, MIT and other institutions are considering further actions to promote bibliodiversity and equity in scholarly publishing.

Virginia Barbour, Director of Open Access Australasia, emphasized the importance of advocacy, collaboration, raising awareness, and capacity building to expand access and equity in scholarly publishing. She highlighted the need for research design that incorporates equity, actively promotes bibliodiversity, and aligns with values and principles outlined in the UNESCO Recommendation. Barbour stressed the importance of securing high-level buy-in, funding, and socialization across all sectors to facilitate the adoption of open science practices.

Thanos Giannakopoulos, Chief Librarian at UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library, called for enhanced cooperation in open science to level the playing field among countries with varying resources. Giannakopoulos emphasized the need to democratize the global record of science and highlighted the insufficiency of relying solely on market forces or article processing charges (APCs). Instead, he suggested investing in non-commercial publishing and library repositories.

The panelists also stressed the significance of connecting the public with research and promoting inclusive science, technology, and innovation. Tshiamo Motshegwa, Director of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP), highlighted the multifaceted challenges facing development in Africa and the need for inclusive approaches. AOSP aims to stimulate interactivity, create opportunities, build capacity, and amplify the impact of open science by showcasing African research and sharing best practices. Motshegwa emphasized the importance of open science advocacy, increased funding, improved infrastructure, training, and robust public policy to drive progress in Africa.

Ana Persic, Program Specialist with UNESCO, underscored the urgency of leveraging open science and making publishing more equitable. She highlighted the staggering statistic that 70% of scientific publications remain inaccessible behind paywalls. Persic emphasized the importance of accessible, efficient, transparent, democratic, and inclusive science to achieve the SDGs and uphold the human rights to science and the benefits of scientific progress. She emphasized the need for collective action to ensure that science is accessible to all.

The event served as a follow-up to discussions at the 3rd UN Open Science Conference and took place during the UN's 8th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals. It provided a platform for experts to reaffirm the significance of open science and equitable publishing in advancing the UN's development plans.

As the world faces complex challenges, the voices of all stakeholders must be included in shaping and accessing knowledge. By embracing open science, promoting equitable publishing practices, and establishing a Global Science Commons, the international community can work together to address pressing issues and achieve the sustainable development goals.

The event concluded with a call to action, urging governments, institutions, researchers, and publishers to actively support and implement open science initiatives. By prioritizing equity, accessibility, and inclusivity in the scientific community, society can leverage the full potential of science to tackle global challenges and improve the well-being of all.

Click here to read the original press release.

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