Open Access in Argentina

Does the Argentinian legislation encourage or mandate OA researchers and publishers to use open licenses, i.e. CC-BY?

The Law does not require the use of open licenses. However, in the context of the regulatory tasks of the Act, we are analyzing the importance of promoting their use until the current national regulatory plexus allows them.

Is open-licensing a common practice in Argentina? How do you support libre OA, if not obligating to use Creative Commons licenses?

While Open Access Act makes no mention of open licenses and it still remains in the process of regulation, we are considering the convenience of recommending its use as well as the existence of legal aspects to support its inclusion in an official document signed by the President of Argentina. The truth is that the use of Creative Commons licenses is an increasing de facto practice in most Argentine repositories, from both, existing and being created. Also, these licenses are being implemented not only within the repositories, but also in open access journals in the country, the institutional websites of universities and official agencies. For example:

Few days after the OA has-been passed legislation, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MINCyT) officially launched national repository network. Could you elaborate on this network? Is e-infrastructure for OA developed enough to carry out all the Duties imposed on the scientific community?

I must point out that the SNRD was formally created in 2011 by Ministerial Resolution 469/11 and what was officially released a week after the approval of Law 26.899 was the SNRD’s portal where local repositories are harvested.
Following your question, the SNRD whose mission was described above, is integrated by the central node and institutional nodes.

The central node is located in the Ministry of Science and its main functions are to coordinate the actions of the network and manage the portal that provides unified access to scientific and technical production deposited in repositories.

Institutional nodes are organizations belonging to the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation owning a digital repository of science and technology, that have the minimum infrastructure required for operation and maintenance and have officially joined the SNRD.

This national network allows:

  • researchers, to deposit their productions in national repositories,
  • scientific institutions, to generate open access institutional memory and ensure long-term access to content stored there,
  • the Federal Government, to make available scientific and technological production that has been generated by public funds to the general public and the world,
  • all stakeholders, to increase the visibility of their scientific outputs.

Regarding the e-infrastructure, the country has a local National Research and Education Network (NREN), INNOVARED, which combined with other initiatives of the same Secretary of Articulation of the Ministry of Science (i.e. the National System of High Performance Computing and the National System of Advanced Networks), has launched three months ago the National e-Science Plan (see video: This Plan and projects will be necessarily compliant to all initiatives around repositories and OA.

Why, from your point of view, opening data is much slower process than opening the publications?

There are several issues that could explain why the process of release data seems to be slower than the publications. We will only list them briefly as each one of them could become a discussion that would exceed this interview:

  • The primary data have disciplinary particularities on which consensus and agreement of the discipline is required. In the same discipline different trends or schools can coexist with different accents on what is important or crucial about the data generated by their disciplinary field and experts.
  • Many of the primary scientific data is highly dispersed on personal computers of researchers and their group or physical files that are not necessarily digitized, contain various formats and have little or no chance of being converted, become interoperable or kept to endure over time.
  • In turn, requesting researchers the release of the primary data sets is not always a simple task since it requires proper handling by the authorities of the institution in terms of mandates, addendums and agreements.
  • Institutional practices also seem to have too much work to do to bring legal support, infrastructure and financial and human resources dedicated to define common criteria for the management of primary data within groups of the same organization and for long-term maintenance.
  • Librarians and repository managers have worked hard and most of them have been leading the open access movement in their countries, developing or adapting librarianship instrumental to the needs to release publications. This has not happened with the data: it has been found a lack of skills, people and procedures regarding manage, curation, preservation of datasets to make them accessible, interoperable and reusable. So there is too much work to do in terms of promoting new profiles and skills among librarians, researchers, data curators, IT people, and so on.
  • Open access journals in the country and region (SciELO, Redalyc, etc.) have been an important precedent to define OA policies, to implement green OA and to the formation of both researchers and repository managers on how to organize the literature in open access. The treatment of the data has no had that history since its past has been more circumscribed to the problem of storage versus exponential growth (so called “big data”), instead of the issue of “long tail” data management and curation.
  • There are technical issues related to the release of primary data that still need to be solved such as: collaborative research and authorship of the data, unique identifiers applied to the data and/or datasets, common and basic metadata schemas, duplicated publications of data and citation of primary data. Those are some of the various aspects that require specific discussion and in the global scale these conversations have barely started.

It seems that e-infrastructure for OA in Argentina is pretty well coordinated with similar e-infrastructure in other countries. You participate in LA Referencia, South-American open access repositories-network, as well as cooperate with european e-infrastructure projects, such as OpenAIRE. What added value do you see in this?

We understand that Open Access will be real when interoperable institutional repositories will be developed worldwide. It would be of little use if only a marginal number of countries publish in open access, especially those with higher levels of scientific production on a global scale. In this regard, we understand that networking at regional and world order is essential to enhance the local task, join forces, establish partnerships and define common standards that help to share more and better science products.

Essential issue for politicians and administration is money. What costs are related to the OA law? What is included in these costs? What are the ways of paying for open access on the country level?

The implementation of a law that promotes Open Access involves all of a sudden an intangible cost that must be estimated in time and effort of raising consciousness, training people and moving research and dissemination practices governed by the logic of pay-per-view and impact factor. Open Access directly challenges the actors involved in the production cycle of scientific knowledge. This implies that all concerns associated to the release of data and publications in researchers’ and institutions’ hearts need to be contained with educational labor, transition measures and concrete proofs of benefits of OA, as much as the projects need to be afforded with appropriate resources.
In summary, the Ministry, through SNRD maintains various lines of financing to support the strengthening of existing repositories and the creation of new ones. In this sense, funds go to:

  • the acquisition of computer equipment and associated equipment (racks, air conditioners, etc.),
  • internships for metadata entry, document scanning, quality control, among other tasks,
  • HR training (seminars, introductory and advanced courses, training workshops and training stays) to grow awareness, knowledge and skills for a proper open dissemination and long-term preservation of scientific production.

Perhaps more important than emphasize the costs, that exist and need to be steadily subsidized and previously budgeted, Politics and Managers should focus in the savings that Open Access literature and primary research data is bringing to their economies.

Open access can be seen as just an important first step toward the open science and efficient scholarly communication system. Do you have any plans of next steps? What remains to be done?

Indeed, OA is one of the necessary steps to think about Open Science. Another necessary step to achieve open science is to ensure the existence of the e-infrastructure needed in such a vast country like ours. As mentioned previously, Argentina is working from INNOVARed and the National System of Advanced Networks in order to maintain and expand connectivity to ensure the functioning of not only the repositories but also platforms and projects that require management of large volumes of information for collaborative and open science to become true.
Regarding SNRD, we are in a growth stage. New ideas and initiatives around OA are appearing all the time in different parts of the world and, as it progresses in its development and implementation, the needs of the scientific community also grow and become more sophisticated. So in the short and medium term we will be facing challenges such as:

  • To open research primary data in databases, repositories and portals not only looking for interoperability and accessibility but re-usability, which is one of the leit motif of Open Access.
  • To integrate data repositories and portals with publications looking for Linked Data,
  • To assist and empower the repositories community in all activities concerning quality of metadata, digital preservation and data curation.

This material is under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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