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  • Network to boost visibility of Latin America's science

[MONTEVIDEO/BUENOS AIRES] Nine countries across Latin America have joined forces to launch an open-access (OA) science depository for the continent.

The project, entitled LA Referencia, is designed as an online federated network of institutional repositories of scientific publications. Its goal is to offer open access to scientific papers and doctoral and master's theses in partner countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mxico, Per and Venezuela.

The network was officially launched in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month (29 November) and a pilot site in Spanish is due to be trialled in June 2013.

The network will benefit an estimated 700,000 teachers, 70,000 researchers and around 15 million students across Latin America and the Caribbean alone.

LA Referencia is not a [single] repositoryor a website but a network of repositories, Malgorzata Lisowska, director of the library at the National University of Rosario, Colombia, which is involved with the project, tells SciDev.Net.

It will bring together national repositories from all participating countries.

Unlike other regional platforms, such as SciELO (the Scientific Electronic Library Online), LA Referencia will not depend on each journal's independent decision to upload content. Instead, as part of their commitment to the project, each institution will have a responsibility to make content produced by its researchers available.

The goal is to give greater visibility to Latin American scientific production and to its authors, Lisowska says.

Another fundamental mission of the network is to facilitate the creation of institutional repositories, she adds.

This is the latest development toward an open access science in the region. Argentina is waiting for the final approval of its own national law on digital repositories and open access, while Brazil and Peru are also taking steps in this direction.

Sergio Matheos, undersecretary of institutional coordination at Argentina's Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, says that during the first half of 2013, Uruguay and Costa Rica will also join the network. Guatemala and Puerto Rico have also expressed interest, Lisowska adds.

We hope that, once completed, the network will be the main OA gateway to the region's science, offering quality information and contributing to a reduction in the digital gap [between countries], says Lisowska.

Paola Bongiovani, open access and repositories researcher at the National University of Rosario, Argentina, tells SciDev.Net: The institutions involved are public policy generators on research and development, and, as such, are in good condition to generate a high impact within their own countries.

The team behind the network hopes to lay the groundwork for transnational collaborations between researchers and groups working on specific.

In the future this could lead to common research agendas with multidisciplinary teams from different countries in the region and worldwide working together, says Bongiovani.

The initiative is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and coordinated by RedClara, the Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks.

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