Libre accès à l'information scientifique et technique
Actualités, problématiques et perspectives

Nidae Al-Ryadh

Publié le 7 septembre 2006

La version anglaise a été réalisée par Abeer Arafat et Khaled Kahhaleh – les deux appartiennent à la Royal Scientific Society de Jordanie – et révisée par Stevan Harnad.

The idea of free access to scientific and technological information in the Gulf and Maghreb Countries came from the intellectual interactions at the 2nd Scientific Gulf-Maghreb Conference, held in Riyadh on 26-27 Moharram 1427, or 25-26 February 2006, which sought to match the expansion of knowledge on the one hand with its diffusion to those in need of it on the other hand, through the best use of information technology and communication.

Providing free access to scientific and technological information continues a tradition in Arabic-Muslim civilization, represented in scientists’ desire in the Mashreq and Maghreb to transmit their research results and scientific publications free of charge, in order to advance to research and science.

That has led the participants of the second Scientific Gulf-Maghreb Conference to appeal for the creation of an online network of ‘virtual libraries’, to provide researchers in the Arab world and the rest of the world with the results of scientific research and publication. The creation of such libraries, covering all scientific and technological fields, can lead to:
– Accelerating scientific and technological research;
– Strengthening scientific production;
– Supporting researchers’ communication and ideas;
– Setting the basis for communication among nations, through sharing scientific research results and knowledge.

The literature that should be freely accessible is what scientists disseminate free of charge and includes:
– Writings with particular importance for the past, present and the future
of the Arab World;
– Published articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
– Preprints still under review, which its authors wish to be evaluated;
– Announcements of new and important scientific discoveries.

For that, the Riyadh Declaration appeals to all institutions and personnel concerned to assure the free access to all scientific literature by lifting all barriers, including the economic barriers, which obstruct scientific research, development and communication between scientists.

The Declaration also calls for free access to all scientific literature on the internet, to permit:
– Reading, downloading, sending, copying and searching;
– Controlling works and articles to be listed or used as data for programming or for any legal purpose.

That is, scientific literature should be disseminated without any financial, legal, or technological barriers except those concerned with the intellectual property for the author.

The Declaration’s signatories recognize that publishers of scientific journals have a full right to fair revenue for the role they play in serving scientific communication. Scientists have moral rights in their publications and ideas. Accordingly, they insist on the necessity of keeping the results of scientific research and publication in the hands of researchers (individuals, institutions, and organisations) for the sake of scientific inquiry. All of this is conditional on the creation of new models of research and cost recovery, and new instruments of financing.

Therefore, the Riyadh Declaration recommends a strategy to realize the free access of scientific and technological literature, through:
– Self-archiving: researchers deposit their own work in electronic archives open to all users;
– Alternatives to commercial journals: through the creation of new journals to compete, via their contents and prices, with existing journals, or through the creation of journals published by the researchers’ own institutions or through encouragement of existing journals to become open access journals.

Finally, the Riyadh Declaration invites governments, universities, research centres, libraries, journals, editors, scientific committees, professional associations and scientists to work for lifting all barriers that prevent the free access of scientific and technological information, in order to ensure the Arab countries and the whole world of a future in which scientific research will be freer and more productive.

French version

Arabic version