MUT and partners discuss vital issues during the Open Access Week

Dr Nthabiseng Mosala-Bryant

MUT Library Services, in collaboration with the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) Library and Information Services, held a two-day workshop in Durban, on 23 and 24 October 2023 on Open Science and Research Data Management (RDM). MUT Library Service Senior Director, Dr Nthabiseng Mosala-Bryant, said the workshop “engaged institutional role players and discussed topics related to Open Science, RDM policies, infrastructure development, procedures, and services for managing research data. The workshop was intentional as it was part of celebrating the International Open Access Week, which started on 23 to 27 October 2023”.

The theme of the Open Access Week was “Community over Commercialisation”. In the workshop, Dr Mosala-Bryant emphasised the importance of a holistic and systematic approach in developing a culture of open science and RDM at MUT, in alignment with the strategic plan of the University.

Dr Mosala-Bryant also said the development and submission of Data Management Plans and datasets has become a requirement from funders and some publishers,  and that more institutions have developed their RDM policies, consequently. “To ensure that MUT safeguards its open access publications, together with their data sets, the participants deliberated on the infrastructure and initiatives at different levels – local, national, and international, such as frameworks, protocols and standards that are needed to improve the value and benefits of research data management,” said Dr Mosala-Bryant.

When opening the workshop, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancelor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, remarked that “Open Access advocates for the reduction of information and data hidden behind paywalls by commercial vendors, at the expense of university libraries budgets”. Dr Makua further observed that the Open Access movement supports free access to information and data, encouraging producers of research outputs to avail research to the public.

Library leaders from other institutions also made a telling contribution to the workshop. While facilitating the workshop, Professor Elisha Chiware, the Library Director at CPUT, advised that the development of policies, infrastructure, human capital and finances are essential to the success of universities establishing their own platforms to host their own research outputs and Open Educational Resources (OERs).  Professor Chiware also advised on how RDM services could be incorporated into information literacy, and data literacy courses by integrating them into the programmes of study.

Zanele Mathe, the Library Director at UNIZULU presented the aim and the objectives of the workshop. She shared her views on how the workshop could help MUT achieve its goals towards making Open Access the norm at MUT.

Dr Mosala-Bryant said that going forward, she and her team would engage all the stakeholders critical to the RDM policy and present the importance of “this global initiative to all the structures. Among the many outcomes of the workshop, the most significant was that MUT must consider assembling a MUT Open Science and RDM Working Group, its terms of reference (TORs) and a framework for e-Research Services”.