Open Access Week in Serbia

Open Access Week is in full swing and there is a lot of blogging about its various events in many countries.

OA week was marked in Serbia this year as well. As you may remember, I went to Belgrade twice in the past two years - in 2008 and 2009 and gave a total of four lectures, one brief TV interview, four long radio interviews and a print interview. I am now writing a paper about Open Access for one of their journals as well.

This effort has paid off.

I have remarked before how difficult it is to make changes in smaller countries - the scientific community is small, everyone knows everybody else and there is usually an entrenched hierarchy that resists changes from below.

But, the small community may also be susceptible to a "founder effect" of sorts: if the small group of people with influence starts changing the system, then it is likely to spread very rapidly and get fixed in the entire country.

So, for example in Serbia, there is one enormous university - Belgrade University - and only a small number of smaller schools in other cities. Those smaller universities are almost certain to adopt whataver changes the BU adopts - it is a matter of survival for them. So if Belgrade University adopts some kind of Open Access rule, or decides to give Impact Factor a smaller role in hiring and promotion decisions, then all the other schools will be quick to follow and the entire system of the country will change rapidly.

But how does one change the system in such an enormous and buraucratic entity as Belgrade University? The change will happen if the new rules are first adopted and pushed by university librarians and by the Medical School - the rest of the university will then follow their lead.

So I was particularly happy to see that the OA week event in Belgrade was attended by several of those people who are in positions of influence - Medical School professors and university librarians. You can see the announcements here, here and here.

The meeting was opened by Dr.Simic, the Dean for Research at Medical School at the University of Belgrade. This is her opening address (you can download the MP3 files by clicking on the links - of course, you need to understand Serbian):

Here is the rest of the program:

1.Zoran Zdravkovic (Senior Librarian and Library Manager at Belgrade City Library): Access to Information

2.Sanja Antonic (Biomedical and Biotechnology librarian at the University Library in Belgrade): Impact Factor and the future of Open Access

3.Vedran Vucic (President of the GNU Linux Center): RSS Feed Aggregators of Medical Information

4.Ana Ivkovic (Senior Librarian at Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia, National Cancer Research Center): Social Media and Scientific Information

5.Dr Vera Zdravkovic (Professor of Medicine, Child Clinic, Belgrade University): Open Access and the User

6.Nada Arbutina (Belgrade's City Library): Where does the Scientific Path Begin?

Ana Ivkovic has also blogged about the event, with some pictures.

Afterwards, they told me that 6 out of 6 presentations mentioned PLoS, two of them going into details of Article-Level Metrics, particularly in the context of reducing the influence of Impact Factor in hiring and promotion decisions. I was also told that 5 out of 6 presentations mentioned me by name, with those who could say "Bora told me" winning over those who could only say "as Bora said when he was here" ;-)

Now I have to sit down and write that paper for them - of course, this is the craziest week on record with OA Week, ScienceOnline2010 finalization, anti-Ida paper to monitor media reactions, a manuscript to review for JOMC, galley proofs of another paper of mine to proofread, and more....but I'll do it this weekend for sure.


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