Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open Access; more than just citation considerations

Article on SciDevNet called “Open Access: not just about citations“.  It follows discussion on some recently published studies: The Study of Open Access Publishing (SOAP) and a study by Philip Davis of Cornell University “Open access, readership, citations: a randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing“.

The discussions have surrounded the intepretation, by some, that the results of this research question the citation advantage offered by OA publishing.  This advantage is:

“generally perceived as a major benefit of OA publishing — the ‘OA citation advantage'”

The item talks about how whilst there has been widespread support for OA, there has not been not widespread practice of OA.   Money was cited as the first disincentive blocking OA uptake, followed by the preference for “established journals with high citation rates.”  This second argument goes back to the long running discussion on how institutes and/or individual scientists are evaluated.

We agree wholeheartedly with the SciDevNet article, when it goes on to discuss the full value of OA journals even if one puts aside the citation aspect for a moment:

“This lies not merely in how they benefit science specialists, but also in making scientific research widely available to those who can neither afford high subscription rates for specialist journals, nor get access to scientific libraries — but whose work or personal interest depend on having access to the global pool of scientific knowledge…

… And as Chan et al. point out [ref Chan article], standards for assessing journal quality and relevance are generally based on “Northern” values that often ignore development needs and marginalise local scholarship”

But what about downloads?  According to the Physics Today blog, “Open access boosts downloads but not citations“, downloads are boosted by OA. Stevan Harnard left a comment on both posts saying “the evidence of the open-access download advantage is growing” and linking to some research to illustrate.

Africa: Innovation update

There are several interesting developments covered in the March issue of African Business.  As this is not available online, I’m covering items of note with a brief summary as follows:

Chemistry:  While funding for equipment and researchers is still a challenge, scientists have made measurable progress especially in the investigation and classification of natural products.  Several networks, such as the Pan Africa Chemistry Newtork (PACN), have sprung up to support collaborative research.

World Bank focus:  The World Bank recently announced plans to expand funding of African development programs and to focus on stimulating public-private partnerships in various sectors.

Kenya to expand geothermal:  Kenya currently derives 12% of its energy from geothermal sources in the Rift Valley.  The state-owned Geothermal Development Co. has announced a large-scale exploration plan intending to double this.

Africa launches first private satellite:  Intelsat New Dawn plans to launch a comms satellite this month from French Guiana.  Partners include major African mobile telecoms such as Vodacom and Bharti Airtel.

Superbloc:  Implementation of the much-discussed Grand Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a partnership involving COMESA, EAC and SADC is projected to start in 2012.

Post written by Peter Bloch

Is Open Source “bad”?…. NO!

Spotted another take on the Plumpy’Nut case this week.  Readers of this blog will know we have been following this news closely over the past year. (See our posts here).  The post on AfroIP was entitled, “The Sticky Situation Surrounding Plumpy’Nut.”  The writer, Isaac Rutenberg, (Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP in San Francisco) observed:

 “The problem is that intellectual property and the implications of certain acts are often not fully understood by scientists and especially by the general public.”

Oh yes, and the need to raise awareness in general about IP issues is something we know is important.  And it’s not always easy.  A compelling 2 minute elevator pitch on IP in Ag4Dev can be challenging…  That’s why when I spot an analogy that resonates with me I take note!  And in the article about Plumpy’nut, the writer made a useful connection between Open Source, and keeping outputs available. 

“Contrary to popular belief, open source software is protected by copyright. The copyright owners (e.g., the software authors) have simply said that they are willing to grant an open license to anyone who would like to use the software, subject to some conditions. One important condition is that any advances made on the software must also become open source, so the software continues to improve but always remains freely available for use. If there was no copyright protection of the original open source software code, the open source system would not work.”

Thanks Isaac Rutenberg, well put!  It’s one of the best known examples of protection not meaning unavailable.  Of course it is not without its problems, Open Source can be very complicated when it comes to derivative works.  Nonetheless it’s a useful example — there are no silver bullets!

Seed Business Development Officer; post open at AFSTA in Nairobi

I thought this announcement I received via email today might be of interest to some of our readers.

The African Seed Trade Association, based in Nairobi, are looking for a Seed Business Development Officer who will:

  • Engineer and manage activities related to seed demand creation and productivity improvements;
  • Promote the emergence of new seed businesses;
  • Foster existing seed companies through technical backstopping and business management consulting at national and regional levels;
  • Map out all key organizations with complementary roles with AFSTA and liaise with them;
  • Work closely with AFSTA projects’ partners such as COMESA, ECOWAS, USAID, ASARECA, among others;
  • Help AFSTA stakeholders with their seed business development project proposals;
  • Develop AFSTA’s position on issues related to seed business development in Africa;
  • Develop and implement AFSTA seed business development strategic plan;
  • Provide tools that will empower African seed companies to take advantage of opportunities for seed business development;
  • Manage the seed business development revolving funds in liaison with the National Seed Trade Associations’ Seed Business Development officers.

The deadline is 28th Feb 2011, full details are available in a document posted on their website HERE.

 

Hon: Storm in a teacup?

The word “hon” (=honey) has been part of Baltimore, Maryland’s lexicon for decades, and it’s an inherent part of the city’s working-class roots.  But now locals have learned their favorite term of endearment has been trademarked for commercial use by a local businesswoman, and some are protesting the co-opting of what they say is a “Baltimore thing.”

You can read or listen to the story at “Baltimoreans to Businesswoman: Not So Fast , Hon

If an entrepreneur appropriating “public domain IP” were reported from anywhere in the developing world, there would be a lot of action. When a UK company tried to trademark the Kenyan word kikoi (common name for a skirt or wrap), a coalition of NGOs filed an objection and the application was subsequently rejected.”Kikoi TM case

Bruce Goldfarb, a Baltimore blogger, has written at length on the subject in The Hon Manifesto.  He believes that:

Whiting’s claim to exclusive commercial rights to “hon” unreasonably inhibits speech and restrains business.

And that:

Denise Whiting does not have a valid trademark on “hon.” She is a bully, trampling the linguistic commons.

What is particularly interesting about this case is that public outrage has been channeled through a variety of social media, and a Facebook event is in the works.  But Denise Whiting has only been granted protection for the word in four categories (retail gift shops, paper goods, clothing and restaurant services) and the local angst may be a storm in a teacup.

Post written by Peter Bloch

Follow up on US Seed Concentration Continues – Seed Concentration in South Africa

Following up on the post from Peter Bloch on the further concentration of the US seed industry,”US seed industry concentration continues.”

The US based seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred has acquired a majority share of the South African seed company Pannar.   Pioneer announced this in September 2010 but is still awaiting the regulatory approval from South Africa.  Pannar is one of the few successful African seed companies operating on a multinational scale.

Pioneer´s aquisition of a majority share of Pannar increases the market share of multinational companies in the South African seed market to about 90%.  This illustrates how the increased market power of a few seed and biotech companies also impacts competition in developing countries as they seek opportunities to expand in different markets.

Post written by Sebastian Derwisch, consultant to CAS-IP

Deadline extended for SIDA genetic resources and IPR training

Deadline for applications is now 31st January 2011

Since 2003 the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has been running an advanced international training programme “Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property Rights” (GRIP).  This year the training will take place May 2nd – May 20th (in Sweden) with the regional  workshop taking place in November. 

Click here to download the brochure of information.

“…the IPR and other legal instruments controlling access and transfers of genetic resources are increasingly complex, the literature is vast and incomprehensive, models are complex, and options are many. Thus, policy makers, scientists and other practitioners especially in resource poor countries face a considerable challenge in formulating IPR policies and negotiating appropriate agreements.

Application form. Click to download

Recognising this fact, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/SLU with the assistance of Stockholm Environment Institute and Svalöf Consulting AB are offering a unique ’IPR/Genetic Resources Programme’ comprising three weeks course work, intermediate personal change project in home country and one week follow up regional seminar.”

For more information please visit the website or download a copy of the information brochure.  Remember the deadline for applications is 31st January 2011.

Deadline for applications is now 31st January 2011.