Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development

Emerging Institutional Paradigms for Providing Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Data and Information , Paul F. Uhlir, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (puhlir at

It is axiomatic that the rate of change in technological systems initially outpaces human capacity to adapt to the technological advances. This is particularly true for transformational technologies that displace their antecedents, including the associated organizational paradigms. Such a transformation is currently taking place as a result of the technological revolution brought about by the combination of digital information technologies and global communication networks. The pre-internet legacy business model for research journals and data centers that restricts access to and use of publicly funded scientific information, however, is not taking advantage of the potential benefits of global open availability online and consequently is slowing the progress of science and socioeconomic development. The question, therefore, is not whether open availability to such publications is better than access provided on terms that are economically, legally, and technologically restricted, but how open availability can be most effectively institutionalized and how quickly.

There are, in fact, multiple paths that are being taken to make this transition from conditionally restricted to open dissemination. The evolutionary human systems are thus beginning to respond to the opportunities made possible by the revolutionary technologies embodied in global digital networks. A gradual, but highly significant and far-reaching restructuring of scientific communication in public research is taking place. This presentation will review some of these institutional developments and their rationale.

Note: This presentation is based on a recently published article, Paul F. Uhlir (2006). "The emerging role of open repositories for scientific literature as a fundamental component of the public research infrastructure." In Open Access: Open Problems. G. Sica (ed.). Polimetrica. Torino, Italy. The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the National Academy of Sciences

  • The Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries, of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, UN G@ID
  • U.S. National Committee for CODATA
  • Brazilian National Committee for CODATA.
  • CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries