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Thank you for supporting the OA Symposium 2016. All presentations and pictures will be published mid-January 2017.

Empowerment through open scholarship: transcending boundaries

Open access should no longer be seen as a choice, but a moral obligation and crucial for society, especially in the developing world as it is access to information (with minimum access challenges) that underpins growth and development.

The core objectives of the symposium are to:

  • grow the openness movement in Africa;
  • grow the openness skills capacity among African delegates;
  • develop communities of practice;
  • provide networking opportunities; and
  • provide opportunity for knowledge sharing.

The venue: iThemba Labs, Faure, Cape Town

Dates: 4 – 9 December 2016 (see programme for more details)

Hosts: UCT Libraries, SPARC USA, SPARC Africa, NRF and LIASA

The need for unhindered access to scholarly literature is analogised with the essentiality of oxygen in the blood stream. The impeded flow of oxygenated blood is likely to cause paralysis or death. There is little one can detract from this analogy as impeded flow of information is the root cause of third world conditions even if those conditions are prevalent in a first world environment. By the same token unhindered access to information, scholarly or otherwise, is the catalyst for empowerment and the desired break into the world of the privilege.

The principles of ‘openness’ demands that the trilogy, that is, open source, open access and open educational resources, work in cohesion to provide a platform for growth and development of society as a whole and not necessarily the research community only. The innate desire for an author of a manuscript, producer of a source code, the OER of an educator is to have his/her research product utilized by the widest audience. The desire of the reader is to have unhindered access to the information produced. Hence, the synchronistic-symbiotic relationship between OS, OA and OERs must be flirted with for the promotion of ‘openness’.

The theme of the symposium draws on this synchronistic-symbiotic relationship stimulating debate on open source, open access, OERs, open data and open publishing. These debates will occur against the background of the growing trend in  internationalization and interdisciplinarity of research. The debates will also probe collaborative research activities that transcend the boundaries of resources and capacity and, bring researchers and readers into one small global community. The discourse will unearth challenges but more importantly, it will bring to the fore remedies that can be modified for the different socio-economic environments; it will develop communities of practice and set standards for excellence in ‘openness’. 

The most significant ‘take-away’ from the symposium is strategies for empowerment; strategies for innovation for the betterment of society.