The UNESCO Open Science Partnership offers a strategic opportunity to advance open science in Africa by putting this on the agenda of national governments. We believe that the most effective approach to implementing open science is working at the national level, bringing together major stakeholders from a given country to develop and execute a national action plan for open science.
Open science requires the development of several aspects concurrently:
- Policies (which act as levers and incentives for researchers to practise open science)
- Infrastructure (to support the implementation of open science and sovereignty of national research outputs)
- Capacity (people to help provide guidance, run the infrastructure, etc.).
All of these things are more likely to be implemented if there is high-level support from national governments and Conferences of Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of Universities.
In 2021, LIBSENSE will work with several African countries that are committed to advancing open science policies, infrastructures and services to develop national Open Science Roadmaps that can then be adapted to other countries. The countries LIBSENSE is working with are Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.
These national strategies, which may differ in each country due to jurisdictional differences, will include a number of elements such as those outlined below:
A shared understanding that open science is important and expression of interest to advance the various elements needed amongst the stakeholder communities
Political will and acknowledgement of the value of open science at the level of the national government or other national groups, e.g. Conferences of Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of Universities.
Convening stakeholders (setting up national Working Groups/Committees, convening meetings)
Priority setting and identification of gaps/issues in terms of infrastructure and skills development
Launch of a working group representing major stakeholder groups (funders and policymakers, universities, libraries, researchers)
A priority-setting process
Development of a national Open Science Roadmap that outlines an enabling policy environment for open science - e.g. national Open Science policies and strategies, priority infrastructure (e.g. national or institutional repositories, journal platform, etc.), capacity building for Open Science, etc.
Consultation with the research community
Roadmap discussions and implementation