Professors, researchers discuss open-access publishing efforts in workshop

Birzeit University professors and deans of faculties discussed the challenges and prospects of open-access publishing and the need for institutional repositories in a workshop held on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

The workshop is part of the “Research Output Management through Open Access Institutional Repositories in Palestinian Higher Education Institutions” (ROMOR), an Erasmus+ funded project that aims to advance the management of scientific research in Palestinian higher education institutions through training on and implementation of open-access institutional repositories.

In addition to creating and supporting open-access repositories, the project fosters scholarly communication and coordination between Palestinian universities and their international counterparts.

ROMOR includes four Palestinian and four European universities, namely the Islamic University of Gaza, Birzeit University, Al-Quds Open University, Palestine Technical University − Kadoorie, Technische Universität Wien, Università Degli Studi Di Parma, the University of Brighton, and the University of Glasgow.

In his opening remarks, Khalid Swaileh, dean of the Faculty of Science at Birzeit University, stressed the significance of open-access publishing in advancing academia and the broader Palestinian community, adding that following such a model allows Palestinian universities to compete both regionally and internationally.

“The open-access model is essential in allowing researchers in economically-poor areas to access recent research relevant to their fields,” said Swaileh. “It also gives researchers the best chance at disseminating their studies and papers. After all, publication is the means by which knowledge is spread and accumulated.”

Wrapping-up his opening speech, Swaileh called on researchers and academics to digitize and publish their Arabic-language research to allow it to benefit researchers, facilitate as many breakthroughs as possible, and encourage further research in the Arab world.

The opening remarks were followed by a presentation by Talal Shahwan, a professor of chemistry, who discussed the challenges that face open-access publishing and the opportunities it affords professors, researchers, and students.

Adnan Yahya, professor of electrical and computer engineering, examined in his presentation the adding of data sets to Fada − the university’s institutional repository − and highlighted the need for a national publishing repository. Diana Sayej, director of Birzeit University’s main library, explored Fada’s current state and future challenges.

Asad Tom, webmaster and technical coordinator at the Information Technology Unit, gave a presentation on the benefits of utilizing the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID iD) and on data exchange between research information platforms. The workshop was concluded by a panel in which Shahwan discussed Scopus, an abstract and citation database; Henry Giacaman, vice president for academic affairs at Birzeit University, explained the university’s open-access publishing policy; and both panelists answered questions and inquiries posed by the audience..