Twelve years later : second ASSAf report on Research Publishing in and from South Africa (2018) : some issues arising


Abstract:Responding to the extraordinary challenges facing publication in the digital age is the holistic view taken by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) on threats and opportunities that characterise this conjuncture. Twelve Years Later, researched by Wieland Gevers, Robin Crewe and Susan Veldsman on national publishing strategies, provides the ‘nuts ’n bolts’ that every researcher should know in order to navigate the changing environment.1 The Report examines both past and present. The first chapter reviews ASSAf’s 2006 report.2 Chapter 2 revisits the 2009 report on books. Chapter 3 details ASSAf’s Scholarly Publishing Programme between 2007 and 2018. How to enhance access of South African authors to global commercial publishers is discussed in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 deals with journal and book publishing, and Chapter 6 examines pitfalls and threats to good publishing practices. Outstanding problems are highlighted in Chapter 7. Chapter 8 offers recommendations. Appendices (45 pp) tabulate the hard data on which the study draws. These data showcase close correlations between the ASSAf qualitative evaluations and Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) decisions. Significantly, ASSAf ratings and reviews of publishers closely align with the international Socio-economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) and the Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers ratings. The 2018 Report offers a detailed history useful for individual university policy planning, and implementation of monitoring mechanisms, and explains accreditation decisions. A basic cost–benefit analysis of the publication incentive system administered by DHET identifies residual problems. Notwithstanding these (see below), the statistics tabulated in Appendices by the Centre for Research, Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University reveals that DHET has been very effective in encouraging publication. It has also acted as an inhibiting factor in author choice of predatory journals, although many thousands of articles still slipped through...

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