Argentinian Senate passes law requiring Open Access – Interview with Dr. Alejandro Ceccatto

On November 13th, 2013, The Argentinian Senate unanimously passed legislation requiring Open Access to publicly funded research outputs. A few days later, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MINCyT) officially launched their national repository network, using the D-NET platform, developed by the European DRIVER Project. Donatella Castelli from the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ISTI) and OpenAIRE , Carmen Gloria Labbe, Red CLARA and COAR Vice Chairperson and Kathleen Shearer, COAR Executive Director attended the launch, which took place on November 20th, 2013.

With these developments, Argentina has become a world leader in Open Access and serves as an outstanding example for other countries, both in Latin America and the rest of the world. COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) is delighted to publish an interview with Dr. Alejandro Ceccatto, Secretariat of Scientific and Technological Articulation from the Argentinian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MINCyT). The interview offers insight into how Argentina has been able to make such significant progress in adopting open access over the last several years.

Photo: MINCyT

Photo: MINCyT

1. What motivated MINCyT to draft this legislation?

The rationale behind the Ministry of Science of Argentina’s support for this law is to promote equitable access to information and primary data resultant of publicly funded scientific research.

The legislation was part of the Ministry’s broader strategy to strengthen R&D institutions and coordinate efforts and resources, share information and promote training of its staff.

In particular, the legislation was drafted with the expectation that it would have a number of specific benefits:

  • Provide a necessary incentive for researchers to make their research output openly available.
  • Distribute responsibilities to the institutions of the national scientific system for the management and supervision of their research outputs,
  • Ensure greater transparency to the process of scientific production and its results,
  • Contribute to eliminating economic and legal barriers to accessibility of research results, allowing significantly faster advancement of scientific discovery processes,
  • Return to the society part of the public investment in science in the form of access to its outputs.

2. The legislation was drafted in 2010 and then passed three years later in 2013. Were there any specific challenges involved in securing support for Open Access with Argentinian Senators?

There were multiple instances where the Ministry was convened by both chambers to present, explain and respond to questions about the value of the project in terms of its social, technical, economic and political impact. Ultimately, we were able to convey to the Senate the value of Open Access for Argentinian research and society, assuring their full support. We did work under a little more pressure in the final 6 months in order to ensure that the bill did not lose parliamentary status and was introduced in the Senate before the end of the year.

3. What are the details of the law?

The law assigns specific responsibilities to each player involved in scientific research process to provide Open Access to their research outputs, both for the scientific community and the general public. It also dictates specific time frames for the release and availability of both data and information.

In particular, the law obliges:

  • Institutions (national universities and scientific & technological centers) to create and maintain their own interoperable institutional repository,
  • Researchers to deposit or authorize the deposit of their works (articles, theses, technical reports) and primary data after evaluation, publication and/or collect (embargoes of 6 months for articles and 5 years for data),
  • Government funding agencies to establish clauses in funding applications that require researchers to indicate in advance where they will be depositing their outputs.

The law specifies any exceptions to compliance, as well as penalties for non-compliance that are linked to the eligibility of institutions and individuals for future research public funding.

The Argentine’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is the executive authority of the Law.

4. Can you describe the network repository?

The Sistema Nacional de Repositorios Digitales (SNRD) is the national network of science and technology repositories created by the Ministry of Science. The network was initiated in 2010 by a committee of institutional experts in the field and under the aegis of the Advisory Board of the Electronic Library of the Ministry.

Repositories at universities and scientific and technological centers are expected to adhere to the SNRD guidelines developed by its Advisory Council. The SNRD defines technical and institutional requirements that detail a number of important elements: the quality of documents made available, interoperability of repositories and their content, provision of human and material resources, and Open Access advocate strategies at their institutions.

In turn, the Ministry provides various types of financing to support the creation and/or further development of repositories and training for technical staff, researchers and users.

5. What about sustainability?

SNRD, like most initiatives of the Secretariat of Articulation in MINCYT, is built with the aim of having institutional sustainability and longevity. The national network has an annual budget, which is already supporting the implementation of the law. In addition, the SNRD Experts Committee and Advisory Board, composed of representatives of all scientific institutions, will ensure implementation of the initiative at the institutional level for the political decisions adopted regarding distribution and access to scientific output.

Special thanks to Dr. Alejandro Ceccatto and Silvia Nakano for conducting this interview!

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