On 15 November, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) announced that it would launch an open access publishing platform called AAS Open Research early next year. This would be created with assistance from the London publisher F1000 and would be the first platform to adopt open peer review.
AAS Open Research is aimed exclusively at South African researchers, and apart from articles, will also publish research protocols, data sets, and codes. The new platform is based on the F1000Research model of publishing. Therefore, the submitted content is set to be published within a few days of submission, and will be reviewed after publication. Along with the post-publication reviews, the names of the reviewers and authors will also be displayed.
Initially, AAS Open Research will accept submissions only from AAS affiliates and researchers funded by Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Africa programmes. The restriction is mainly to ensure that the submissions meet the standards of the publishing platform. However, AAS executive director Nelson Torto assured that they intend to broaden the eligibility by partnering with other funders in Africa that maintain rigorous selection processes. The costs of publishing on the platform may vary, but will be in the range of £120–800 per article. African researchers’ grant funders will bear the publishing fees, which will be paid directly to F1000.
According to AAS, the new platform will help early career researchers in Africa get published with ease. Most of these researchers find it difficult to get accepted in international journals, so publishing on this platform would save them time while ensuring quality peer review. However, some academics in the country have expressed concerns that publishing on platforms like these might prevent African academics from gaining broader recognition. This is because most academics in the country prefer publishing in the list of journals the higher education department maintains as this brings more recognition.
It remains to be seen how forthcoming African researchers would be to publish on the AAS Open Research platform.