UWC's New Open Access Journals: Knowledge, Free of Charge
In October 2013, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) signed the Berlin Declaration to Open Access in the Sciences and Humanities, signalling that it is joining the community of research institutions working to make publicly funded research findings available to all, free of charge. One month later, UWC is launching two Open Access journals: the Journal of Student Affairs in Africa and Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning.
These open access journals will publish peer-reviewed scholarly content and make it available for viewing by anyone, with no payment necessary. Authors will retain copyright over their work – the articles may be used in teaching, or shared further, as long as there's attribution of the publication.
The journal managers are UWC staff, but the editorial boards feature international and national academics of some renown – and while they're focused on the South African context, they welcome all submissions that are critical and well-researched, and address clear problems.
Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (http://cristal.epubs.ac.za) will publish scholarly articles and essays that describe, theorise and reflect on teaching and learning in higher education, with a particular interest in articles that have relevance in the South African educational context. “There is a real gap in the Southern African context for a journal that focuses on more critical accounts of teaching and learning, and we hope to address that,” says managing editor Sherran Clarence, Teaching and Learning Specialist and Coordinator of UWC's Writing Centre.
The journal's open access status is an important part of that plan. “We firmly believe in open access, because we want as many people as possible within higher education to read the journal and engage with the conversations we are opening up there, and with the authors and their work,” she explains. “Academics should not have to pay to read these papers or publish in the journal.”
The Journal of Student Affairs in Africa (www.jsaa.ac.za) aims to be the foremost scholarly and professional journal dealing with the theory and practice of student affairs in Africa. “As an open access journal, JSAA will not only play a critical role in developing the scholarly field of student affairs, but also in professionalising its practice by targeting academics and student affairs professionals across the African continent,” says the journal's editor-in-chief, New York University Prof Teboho Moja.
Journal of Student Affairs in Africa journal manager, Dr Thierry Luescher-Mamashela, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education Studies at UWC's recently-launched Institute of Post-School Studies, also believes that open access is a critical step. “Doing research is a bit like mining – and doing research at a public university and with philanthropic money is like mining with public money,” he says. “Publishing that knowledge in closed access journals is privatising knowledge that was produced for the public good. The knowledge should be for everyone – open access is fundamentally about social justice, and reducing knowledge inequality.”
Both of the new open access journals are hosted by the UWC Library, which already hosts two open access digital repositories – the ETD Repository for student theses, and the Research Repository, where researchers can post their papers and rest assured in the knowledge that they're available to anybody in the world. With this background, UWC Library will also be offering the journals technical support and publishing expertise.
“Open Access is a very important issue in our times,” explains Jill Claassen of the UWC Library's Repository and Digital Scholarship Unit. “Scientists around the world, in all fields, are tackling global problems that threaten the survival of our species. But research cannot be undertaken without access to journals detailing previous research, which can be prohibitively expensive. Open access allows articles to be disseminated more speedily, and to whoever wants to read them. This means that access to research findings has a global reach, and the results can impact society at a quicker rate. Many research findings have the power to improve the lives of millions of people – if those people actually know about them.”