Impact of open science on the development of social sciences in Latin America

Reception: January 18, 2021

Acceptance: February 22, 2021

The social sciences in Latin America have received numerous impulses for their development from the hegemonic countries. Research expeditions, teacher training, the dissemination of books and magazines provide feedback on the relationship between the center and the periphery. In our region, the social sciences have developed confined within the borders of each country. This can be confirmed by looking at the topics and titles of theses, articles and books produced in Latin American countries. However, lasting links at the horizontal level have been built through the exchange of professors and students and the activities of the congresses, and lately on the pages of electronic journals. In this section of Discrepancies we will explore what role fostering open science has to play in the social science locale.

Do rigid laws and / or lax copyright practices interfere with the development of open science?

Science (in the singular), as a model of Western knowledge that has become universal (a cosmopolitics, according to Gustavo Lins Ribeiro), carries the notion of copyright to protect individual work within a monopoly that allows the exploitation of goods intellectuals. In other alternative systems of knowledge, studied by anthropology, the construction of knowledge is done collectively. Knowledge in both models has a different use value and exchange value.

An open science could not operate with laws (be they rigid or lax) on copyright to protect what a scientific system that generates proprietary knowledge produces. Open science involves sharing knowledge in our countries for all humanity without the restrictions of the economy of proprietary knowledge. Along with free knowledge and free technologies, open science is part of spaces of resistance to processes of colonization of cognitive capitalism, as stated by María Ángela Petrizzo (2016).

I think that one would even have to rethink the notions of author and begin to debate about the importance of building collaborative knowledge. This involves discussing what could be considered plagiarism or not, copy or not, original or not, authentic or false. Anthropology has already been debating the figure of the author since the seventies of the century xx, when the authorial authority to speak on behalf of those “others” was deconstructed and co-authorship began to be considered, to debate on academic extractivism from a critical anthropology perspective. I agree with Ribeiro, who predicts that in the digital age the concept of authorship could undergo substantial changes, even disappear, to start talking about cooperation on-line and post-author academic texts (2018: 255-56).

Against this background, I consider that copyright operates with a logic opposed to that of open science, which breaks with the hijackings of knowledge by capitalism and frustrates the economy of proprietary knowledge.

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Open access. As of 2014, Mexico has a law that establishes the guidelines for open access information and it is the Open Access Law, and that placed it as the third country in Latin America1 in taking this legal step.

It is then that we began to find expressions that are largely the object of desires and a panorama of what was envisioned, finding notions such as information and open data, the knowledge society, democratization of information, knowledge as a common good, to mention some of them. However, if we pay attention to what the law establishes, that the research that is produced with State funding will be open access and that the National Council of Science and Technology will have the powers to formulate and implement the national repositories strategy, then we have to Open access is the same as the creation of repositories, and through these, its objective is to publicize the research carried out with public funds. This is how the contradictions and some gaps derived from the large amount of information that it would be possible to have without the need for commercial intermediaries begin, but going down a bit in the text of said law we find an article that establishes the rights of the authors and that, despite the texts being declared public, the author's consent cannot be set aside.

It is worth mentioning that before this law came, there was already a path traveled in universities and research centers and institutes that had institutional repositories, in addition to integrators such as RedALyC,2 remeri,3 The reference,4 etc.

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Fernando Garcia Serrano

From the Ecuadorian experience, in November 2016, the Organic Code of the Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation was approved, which has 628 articles, 34 general provisions and 23 transitory provisions. It is the second instrument in force in Latin America, after Argentina, and it replaced a legal body approved in the 1990s.

It is a legal instrument that incorporates clear and current regulations on the subject of copyright, including the subject of open science products and open access to information. Unfortunately we do not have a monitoring report on the application of this Code from 2016 to date that allows us to appreciate the changes made in the written standard. What is evident is that current legislation in Ecuador allows the consolidation of collaborative, participatory and open research.

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What place does open science have in the virtual dissemination of research activities? What will happen to the printed editions and to traditional libraries?

We cannot divorce open science from the open access movement, which implies promoting Free Information Technologies (useful) and the possibility of releasing data of public interest. The laws proposed by various activists in Latin America who support this movement propose to modify the logic of proprietary knowledge by making it accessible to all. We are talking about a movement that enhances the power of social oversight and that fosters social equity in access to technology. If the nation-states of Latin America finance scientific research with public funds, the logical thing is that societies know how these public resources are allocated and what the results are. Therefore, research financed with public funds should contain the philosophy of open science: to be free knowledge disseminated by virtual means. I think it is implicit that there is no open science without useful and without open access to knowledge, which offers an unequaled dissemination potential if the person in the role of the recipient has the internet and the technology to inform themselves.

I am not concerned about the fate of printed editions and traditional libraries, because they will continue, but to what extent research under the open science model will be accessible: according to the International Telecommunications Union, in 2017, 50.7% of the world population had access to the internet and, according to this report, in 2018 only 16% had the service in low-income countries and, in high-income countries, it was located at 86%.5 This inequity tells us about who is reading us and their social class privileges.

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Visibility and the role of print and libraries. In the context of the social sciences, it is difficult to think of a completely digital age, in such a way that you could not think of leaving the print format aside. However, we must take into account the relevance of the editions in digital format since it determines what we see, have and read and then turn it into knowledge.

Documents, archives and periodicals that have not been electronic native will still have a long life before the transformation to these formats, so I particularly consider that what prevails today is a hybrid information access service, that is, a combination of formats between digital and printed.

In the case of the library, we are facing an institution capable of transforming its processes and services to meet its objective of satisfying the information needs of its users.

One of the objectives of open science is to be able to reach and impact the development of education and research in all areas of knowledge. The great contribution that open science makes is evident, especially in this time in which most educational and research activities are carried out remotely and it has also been very relevant to see how publishing houses and authors have chosen to share more and more documents, for your reference.

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I can speak in the case of flaccid Ecuador, which is the one I know. It was the first university in Ecuador to accredit a virtual postgraduate program in 2003, it started with 167 students and by 2020 it has 1,745 students. Also since 2008 it has had the Vanguard Digital Center for Research in Social Sciences for the Andean Region and Latin America called flaccid Andes.6 The project flaccid Andes's goal is to promote the development of research in Social Sciences in the Andean countries and Latin America in general. Hence, it has designed and launched an open access digital platform and repository that allows the preservation, dissemination and free access to information resources on social sciences, mainly from the Andean region and Latin America.

The platform and the repository incorporate a series of information and communication technology tools (tic) quite versatile and friendly, which have been designed from comprehensive and modular concepts, both in technology and in the organization and production of academic content. Users can search, read, download, archive and print all the specialized information it contains for free. Access is from anywhere in the world through a computer and an Internet connection.

A fundamental aspect of flaccid Andes is to publicize the results of institutional research, as well as the digital version of all theses approved in its different programs.

Regarding the printed editions, flaccid, Through its publishing center, it continues to produce both printed and virtual versions of its publications. Furthermore, its library was one of the pioneers in the country by offering the open shelving system that allows direct access to the bibliographic collection; It also has an integrated library management system that includes an online catalog (opac), which facilitates the reader's access from anywhere in the world, incorporates home loan, collection formation, use of thesauri, connections to the digital library for full-text downloads, and location of the book by floor, shelf and tray. As can be seen, there is no doubt regarding the usefulness and validity of the library.

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Will open science and its dissemination on the Internet contribute to the development of a Latin American horizon in learning and research activities?

Electronic computer capitalism has resized the world in a few years, it has modified markets, interconnections and, in the academic world, it has brought us closer together. Forty years ago, reading the latest news in medicine had to go through slow, exclusive and exclusive communication channels; With the pandemic, we can find out in minutes the latest research on covid-19 from the comfort of a smart phone (knowledge “released” by paid indexed magazines). Before, we had to travel to present ourselves at academic meetings and meet other colleagues; now we can interact online and see each other in meetings on live digital platforms.

Almost all universities in the region maintain open access journals and the paper it continues to be the most popular discursive genre. In Venezuela, according to a systematic review we carried out, 56% of what was written in anthropology is disseminated in journals, of which almost 80% is in national open access publications. If you research a topic in search engines, you find who in the world writes about it. The authors have also been in charge of making their work visible on platforms such as, Research Gate, orcid, Google Scholar, etc. The boom of computer electronic capitalism is recent, its impact on the sciences remains to be seen.

I think that the best experiences to think about ourselves, position ourselves, make our voices felt as a region arise from integration; the Latin American Anthropology Association is one example of this. There are many people with the same lines of research in our countries and they are neither known nor read; the postgraduate degrees in anthropology in the region are dedicated to citing North Atlantic schools and there are few subjects to dialogue with Latin American authors, what Andrea Pérez and Eduardo Restrepo call the politics of ignorance. At the end of 2020, the 32nd Brazilian Meeting of Anthropology issued a statement urging North Atlantic American communities to cite the research of local anthropologists; I believe that this exhortation can also be made within our own countries to break the policies of ignorance. We can share open science policies and publish our research under this model, but if we don't think in a regional way, we will continue to reproduce the coloniality of knowledge. Here the problem is one of ethical-political positioning.

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I have no doubt about the affirmative answer to this question, due to the characteristics of the open sciences:

  1. Open access to publications and scientific data without economic, legal or technological barriers, with interoperable formats and metadata structures that facilitate automatic processing or structured systemic constructions (such as the Web semantics or the linked data).
  2. Open infrastructures (both digital-electronic and physical) that make collaboration, reuse, preservation and improvement of research possible.
  3. Quick publication of results and openness to collaboration in the early stages of discovery so that others can comment, review and contribute.
  4. Open, public and transparent organization, self-managed or self-governed.

Likewise, the benefits shown by its use are interesting:

  1. They are fairer: it guarantees access to knowledge as a human right and avoids the private enclosure of research financed with public funds.
  2. They are more democratic: they improve the participation of the different social agents and make it possible to monitor and audit public investments in science.
  3. They are more efficient and productive: it is a research accelerator that solves the problem of the privatization of results, making it possible for researchers to search and use knowledge more quickly and without economic or technological barriers, through protocols and formats interoperable. By having no barriers, by not having to ask for permission and by being structured and standardized data, it becomes a faster cognitive production system.
  4. They are cheaper and more sustainable: the publication and management of scientific production with software Free and open access has proven to be more cost effective. There are economically viable models of open access publications and an economy based on knowledge services, rather than one based on knowledge goods turned into commodities under intellectual property regimes.
  5. They are more beneficial to society: direct citizen participation, open access to results, and the reuse of infrastructure and resources contribute to social development and meet individual and community needs in a way.
    more effective.

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Babini, Dominique (2019, 2 de septiembre). “Plan S y acceso abierto en América Latina”. Blog Amelica. Recuperado de, consultado el 22 de febrero de 2021.

Petrizzo, María Ángela (2016). “Tensiones y distensiones entre el ordenamiento jurídico y los sentipensantes de las tecnologías libres. Hacia la identificación de un lenguaje desde las prácticas comunes”, en Jacqueline Clarac et al., Antropologías del Sur: visiones, complejidades, resistencias y desafíos. Mérida: Red de Antropologías del Sur, pp. 533-539.

Ribeiro, Gustavo Lins (2018). Otras globalizaciones. México: Gedisa, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Iztapalapa y Unidad Lerma.

Roberto Melville is a professor-researcher at ciesas in Mexico City. He is a teacher in Social Anthropology (1975) and a doctorate in Social Sciences with a specialty in Social Anthropology (1990) from the Universidad Iberoamericana. He is the Coordinator of the Editorial Project (ciesas, uami, uia) "Classics and Contemporaries in Anthropology". Among his recent publications are "The Influence of The People of Puerto Rico Project on Mexican Anthropology", Identities, vol. 18: 3 (2011) and "Power and technology based on environmental and social change in the Tennessee Valley", in Knowledge of environment and power (colsan, 2019);

Annel Mejías Guiza is an aggregate category professor at the Universidad de Los Andes (ula), Merida, Venezuela. She has a degree in Social Communication (Universidad del Zulia), a master's degree in Ethnology, a mention in Ethnohistory (ula), and doctoral student in Social Sciences, mention in Cultural Studies (University of Carabobo). She is the editorial coordinator of the Red de Antropología del Sur and director of the magazine Plural. Anthropologies from Latin America and the Caribbean, of the to. She is a narrative writer: Blood maps (2012) and Burned house (2015). His most recent scholarly publication: Anthropologies made in Venezuela, i and ii, edited with Carmen Teresa García (to, 2020).

Norma Raquel Gauna González is the director of the Library of El Colegio de San Luis (colsan). She has a degree in Library Science from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (uaslp) and a doctorate in Information and Documentation Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid. Professor of the subject at the Faculty of Information Sciences of the uaslp. He is an honorary member of the Mexican College of Advisory Archivology in the procurement intelligence project of the Information Resources Advisory Commission honey of conacyt and representative of the Public Research Centers of conacyt before him conricyt (2015-2016). Publication: The habitat of information resources (2017).

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Encartes, vol. 6, núm 12, septiembre 2023-febrero 2024, es una revista académica digital de acceso libre y publicación semestral editada por el Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, calle Juárez, núm. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte Norte, A. C., Carretera escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, núm. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, México, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, núm. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434, y El Colegio de San Luís, A. C., Parque de Macul, núm. 155, Fracc. Colinas del Parque, San Luis Potosi, México, Tel. (444) 811 01 01. Contacto: Directora de la revista: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Alojada en la dirección electrónica Responsable de la última actualización de este número: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Fecha de última modificación: 21 de septiembre de 2023.