Open Access in Argentina

Could you tell us about the prehistory of the law: how the idea of open access appeared in the Ministry?  What was the attitude of the scholarly community? Since OA regulations apply to private institutions' research outputs, has it been widely accepted by these institutions?

One might say that when the Secretariat for Scientific and Technological Articulation of the Ministry of Science established the first national network of biological data (SNDB) back in 2009 and a year later launched its portal of biological data, the Ministry was giving one of its first steps towards deploying strategies to develop an open access policy. A second step was associated with changes driven by the same Secretariat of Articulation concerning the management of the Electronic Library of Science and Technology, which provides internet access to international publications to all researchers in the country. The Electronic Library was created on 2002, and with the arrival of the Ministry of Science in 2007, its Advisory Board directed efforts to promote Open Access through different actions: become part of the regional project LA REFERENCIA (the regional network of publications scientific Open Access), add titles in Open Access to the subscribed publications collection, create a National System of Digital Repositories (SNRD), among others. Today the Ministry manages four National Systems of Data (Biological, Sea Data, Climatic Data and Genomic Data) its portals and harvesters. A large number of scientific institutions have joint voluntarily these initiatives to give open access to the national scientific production.

A vanguard of research community has joined the Open Access initiative in several ways: both as political leadership (our hierarchical authorities are scientists from various disciplinary areas) and as participants in the Advisory Boards, Committees and Commissions of Experts working for the development of these facilities. Without disciplinary and institutional policy recommendations it would have been impossible to develop them. It is important to say that membership is voluntary: nobody forces to scientific institutions and researchers to support national systems and portals. This fact doesn’t deny that there have been and still remain some concerns and/or resistance from the community to release their data... however, the Law 26.899 is clear enough about this point and creates binding obligations. The Act extends to both public and private universities that do research with public funds. Before the Law, private universities and other NGOs were already involved voluntarily and enthusiastically to these ministerial initiatives.

What are the implications of the new law for publishers? Don't they have to change their buisness models?

The obligations of the Law 26.899 reach scientific institutions and researchers. It fixes deadlines for embargo to published articles and primary data, and researchers and their institutions should take precautions before publishing to comply with the terms of the Act: establish their institutional OA policy and mandates, define the types of contracts, assignment of rights and/or models of addenda to be signed with publishers. Scientific system is responsible for developing processes and instruments to protect the rights of authors and institutions. If publishers must change their business model or not is an editorial decision. The truth is that all publishers that the country subscribes for more than US$ 20 million per year are informed about the Law long before and accepted unanimously obligations emanating from it. We believe that none of them could by now oppose or hinder the release of articles 6 months after publication. Moreover, some of them support explicitly national legislation of Open Access allowing to publish the final version of articles from day 1 after its publication in the subscribed journal because they understand that the publication in the repository and its harvest through a national portal merely maximize the visibility of articles. Other publishers bring us a monthly list of Argentines’ publications, collaborating with tracking and releasing as established by the Law 26.899. In any case the law is restrictive as to where and when researchers should publish. A good interpretation of the rule should evaluate that any commercial contract between individuals can be empowered over or against a national law. For this reason, the Ministry of Science subscribes international literature, solely using official instruments of procurement and contracting of the National State and never by signing any business license that imposes foreign or opposite conditions to technical and legal requirements of the country. From SNRD, Electronic Library and scientific repositories nationwide, researchers are encouraged to publish with publishers that are likely to contribute to the fulfillment of institutional mandates and regulatory obligations of Open Access Law.

What is the main purpose of OA policy in Argentina?

In Argentina, the national government is the main promoter of science, technology and productive innovation through researchers’ employment policies and financing research activities.

The free public access to scientific and technological production contributes not only to the advancement of science, but to the increase of cultural, educational, social and economic patrimony. Thus, it helps to improve the people’s quality of life and to foster scientific outputs’ prestige in the international context.

Aims of OA policy in Argentina are:

  • Allow access through interoperable repositories and national portals to primary data, products and publications resulting from publicly funded research.
  • Provide national and international visibility to Argentina’s scientific production.

How would you describe your policy in terms of green vs. gold and gratis vs. libre open access?

In terms of green/gold, gratis/libre, the local trend is clearly inclined towards the Open Access concept established at the 3B statements (Budapest, Bethesda, Berlin): The Open Access model means that users may freely read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of scientific papers, and use them for legitimate purposes related to scientific research, education or public policy management without economic, legal or technical barriers.
 The only condition for use and reuse is to give attribution of authorship to the authors; that means properly acknowledgement and citation.
For this, Argentina, through the Ministry of Science, created the National System of Digital Repositories (SNRD) to promote, coordinate and manage a network of interoperable repositories, physically distributed, created and administered by Universities, R+D institutions or groups of institutions nationwide, in order to increase the visibility and impact of scientific and technological production. In other words, Argentina’s policy supports the development of green and libre OA.

Additional information