The second ‘Open Science in the South’ symposium held in Cotonou, Benin Republic, in October 2022, was a great success and resulted in many recommendations.
The international symposium Open Science in the South is the place where scientists, information professionals and representatives of research institutions, organizations in charge of research policies discuss the challenges of open science and share their experiences.
In 2019, the first edition was held in Dakar. The “Declaration for the sharing and openness of research data for sustainable development” which was drawn up there sets a set of objectives concerning the management, valorization, sharing and governance of data.
The 2022 edition, which took place in Cotonou from October 25 to 27, 2022, aimed to provide an overview of approaches to the management and openness of research data in Africa, particularly in French-speaking Africa, to share and promote good practices.
Here are the main recommendations.
Urgent openness and data sharing
Poverty, health problems, difficulties in accessing education, growing inequalities… African scientific communities are making a strong contribution to meeting the current major societal development challenges that have a strong impact on societies in the South. They produce a large amount of data and knowledge whose scientific, political, economic and social potential remains too largely underused, because it is poorly disseminated or accessible.
At a time when the practices of sharing and opening up scientific productions are becoming widespread within scientific communities, it is essential that African scientists be able to include their research practices in this dynamic in order to strengthen the visibility of their work in the world. international scale.
In order to promote the adherence of African scientists to these new practices, it is essential to establish a climate of trust, equitable sharing as well as inclusive and open access to data management systems.
In view of the various findings and expectations of the African research community noted during the Open Science symposium in the south of Cotonou, we recommend acting on several levers and at several levels. For this, the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science offers a common framework and a real opportunity for a coordinated implementation of Open Science on the African continent.
Infrastructure development and awareness
Governments must take advantage of the UNESCO recommendation to develop their national policy. On the basis of a detailed roadmap, this policy must include the development of the digital infrastructures necessary for the management and dissemination of data. The development of a culture of open science within research communities guarantees the sustainable integration of practices within research activities. On this last point, taking open science practices into account in the criteria for promoting researchers is a lever for significantly and sustainably changing their practices.
Awareness-raising and training actions for the scientific community must accompany the implementation of national policies. It will be necessary to offer new courses of initial training, but also continuous, on the different aspects of open science and data science. Mastering the sharing and openness of research data and their enhancement within the African continent is based on the development of skills in the digital professions of future African engineers and researchers.
More inclusion and cooperation
Open science must be inclusive, in all its dimensions. We have noted, in various forms and on various occasions, the importance for the participants of taking into account the diversity of approaches and practices in open science. It is important to promote the inclusion of everyone, regardless of gender, language or training, and thus promote the widest possible access to mechanisms for disseminating research productions, such as open archives and repositories. data in particular.
Open science in Africa will require cooperation between African nations and openness to scientific exchanges on a global scale. Openness and inclusion can only be achieved on the scale of Africa through international cooperation between all African countries, by pooling resources, converging our standards and research practices, and finally by networking the
different communities of scientists through South-South and North-South cooperation.
The consideration and implementation of these different points will make it possible to promote access for all to academic productions, for all political, socio-economic, associative and ordinary citizens, with respect, justice and concern for equity. This is also based on the establishment of a better dialogue between scientists and decision-makers so that science becomes a real driving force for development.
These conclusions are the result of the work of several authors:
L.. Bezuidenhout (DANS, Netherlands), H. Catherine (IRD, France), C. Coulibaly (UVCI, Ivory Coast), JC. Desconnets (IRD, France), J. Cossi Ganglo (Abomey Calavi University, Benin), N. Ardo Kane (ISRA, Senegal), N. Mchunu (NRF, South Africa), M. Popoola (FCAHPT Ibadan, Nigeria), F. Sabot (IRD, France), J. Tshibwabwa (University of Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa)
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