Open Access in Latin America/Helio Kuramoto

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1. Please, tell us who you are and where you work at.

I'm Helio Kuramoto, graduated in Electrical Engineering and doctor on Information and Communication Science at Université de Lyon in 1999. I'm working, now, at IBICT ( Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia), Brazilian Institute on Information in Science and Technology. I work there since 1983. I begun as System Analyst, but today I work more on Scientific Information than in Computer Science. As its name say, the Information on Science and Technology is its main business. May be a little more because IBICT is also a Research Center and, has a Post graduate course on Information Science. So IBICT has two face, it is an executive governmental organization and also a Research Center.

2. When and why did your interest in Open Access begin?

After 1999, I have worked more on scientific information then on computer science and so, I knew the Brazilian problems in accessing to scientific information because before getting the title of doctor, I worked a lot on Information Systems like Unions Catalogue of Serials Publication, not only developing the computational system but on organization and processing it. So I had contact with information technicians and got a lot of knowledge about the questions related to serials publications and how Brazilian libraries work with these collections. After 2002, with the Open Access Initiative, I understood the strategy proposed by Steva Harnad and his colleagues. Both strategies, Green and Gold road, fascinated me because these could be the solution for us, mainly for poor country and developing country like Brazil, India, Argentina, Colombia, etc. So, I’ve interested to Open Access since the beginning.

3. How would you describe your current role within the OA movement?

I really do not know. Until three years ago I had an executive position at IBICT and had some power to take action supporting OA. But today, I no longer have any executive position. Maybe, I can say that today I am more an OA enthusiastic. I think, maybe I can say a little more than a simple OA enthusiast, since 2003 I've been trying to encourage Brazilians, especially, Brazilian researchers to better understand the strategies of OA. For this role I keep a blog, the Blog do Kuramoto ( And also, I have tried to institutionalize OA initiatives at Brazil by, first in 2007, articulating with the Deputy Rodrigo Rollemberg the submission of the bill PL 1120/2007 at Camara dos Deputados. After long time, this bill was filed, at the beginning of 2011 because all deputies were changed as consequence of the election in 2011. In this election the ex-federal deputy Rodrigo Rollember has been elected as a Senator by Distrito Federal. So, frustrated with the fact occurred at Camara dos Deputados, I articulated with him to submit another bill, this time at Senado Federal and so today there is in course the bill PLS 387/2011. Even, without any executive position at Brazilian government , I have worked alone maintained my blog online and sometimes doing lectures and classes, or writing papers about OA initiatives or sometimes following this PLS at the Brazilian Senate.

4. How do you define OA? (free of cost v. open licensed or both)?

I prefer the definition given by Peter Suber: Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

5. What route to OA do you prefer or support and why? (Gold road v. green road)

I prefer the Green road. This is the way to get OA to all papers, at least, it is a more democratic way because all researchers can deposit their papers and all people get access to them only using Internet. In the other hand, I don’t support the Gold road, because, it is very difficult to implement. Recently, I read this post It shows the difficulty to implement the Gold road. It is necessary to think and maintain the quality of papers independently of policy, if OA or non-OA, the quality is the main priority. And this explain what said Steve Harnad, at the OA beginning when he defended the implementation of Green road first instead of Gold road.

6. You have one of the earliest Brazilian blogs focused on OA. Can you tell us when did you start it, why do you keep it and its main goals? Can you provide statistics of usage, too, please?

I begun to write it and maintain it since 2006. First I used a blogger from Google but, a new blogger appeared,, and it shows to be better then Google, considering its facilities and designers. At the beginning I created my blog to defend IBICT against some actions and speeches of institutional opponents. I work at IBICT since 1983 and I like it and I think it is very important for the development of Brazil. It is true, the things changed a lot and now I have other ideas. This initial time took about two or three months. So, quickly I changed my mind and the aim of my blog because another cause begun to be more important to me, the OA initiatives. I thought the blog would be an important tool to defend OA and its initiatives, to show and discuss it. There are some statistics, concerning the year 2012, about my blog at The wordpress provide me use statistics every day but, this is a personal function available only for me. What I can say is that usually a mean of 80 persons follow my blog every day. So, I don’t have the quantity of users as I would like, but there are enough quantity of persons following my blog and some of them make me questions. So there is a little of interactions and it is very good. Since last year, 2012, I can follow people outside Brazil that visit my blog and I think it is very crazy, I put a small board where people can translate what I wrote to English, French, Germany and Portuguese. Sometimes the translating is not so good, but I never received any claim about this.

7. How do you see scholarly publishing in Brazil? What is the cycle and incentives? (if you know, please compare to the USA scenario)

Our main science institution, MCTI – Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation was created as Ministry of Science & Tecnology by Decrete No. 91,146 on 15th March 1985, fulfilling the commitment made by President Tancredo Neves to the Brazilian scientific community. Its sphere of responsibility is set out in Decrete No. 5,886 dated 6th September 2006. Before MCTI, CNPq - National Council for Scientific and Technological Development ( was the first Brazilian agency support for science and technology, it was created by the Law n. 1.310 signed on January, 15 1951. So, our scientific community is very recent, its has less the 80 years. So, our scientific community is considerably new. In spite of this, there are some Brazilian publishing older than these institutions. But, they don’t have a business model compared to the main world journals . The great major of Brazilian journals is government resource dependent. Today, CNPq has a subside program for scientific journals that is used by the great major part of Brazilian scientific Journals to self maintain them. Related to non-Brazilian Journals, our journals use an open system software to publish them. The site of DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals,, shows that Brazil is the second country, in the world, in quantity of electronic journal, with 808 journals, the firs county is USA with 1,276 journals. This position of Brazil has been possible because one of the IBICT’s action,that internalized and distributed the software open source Open Journal System (OJS) since 2004. The difference between Brazil and other countries is that our journals are naturally open and use an open source software. The cost of journal’s maintenance is responsibility of the institutions that publish it. However, there is a search to own money to maintain them, last year the publishers of Revista Saúde Pública tried implement the policy authors pay but, the authors didn’t agree and they made a protest against this policy. Others Brazilian journals tried to follow the same example of Revista Saúda Pública but, I don’t know what was the reaction of theses journals.

8. Why do you think open access policies have faced so many barriers in Brazil? (Here I refer to bills proposed and archived)

I don’t know exactly. Or may be I can suppose but I don’t have any evidences. So, I can’t say nothing. One thing I know, here, in Brazil few people talk about OA and the research community seems satisfied with the situation. Now, we have a very good Portal de Periódicos Científicos maintained by CAPES – Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). His president, Jorge Guimarães, said in his paper that, in 2010, this portal disseminated about 25 thousands of serials publication. It is almost all serials publications. It seems, that doesn’t matter if our government pay a lot of money to maintain the Capes’ Portal. After the lack of successes of PL 1120/2007, I tried to articulate again, now with the senator recently elect Rodrigo Rollemberg and another Law’s Project , at this time, it was submitted at the Comission of Science, Tecnology, Innovation, Communication and Informatics from the Federal Senate, on 05/07/2011 and the senator Cristovam Buarque is its relator. So far, this PLS didn’t walk. It seems stopped. I don’t know why! I have tried to contact his advice. But, no news about PLS 382/2011.

9. What do you see in terms of institutional open access policies in Brazil? Are there institutional policies mandating OA in Brazil or in Brazilian institutions? (Here I refer to university or other policies, proposed and/or implemented)

Yes, there are some initiatives concerning OA policies, at least there are 5 policies registered at Theses mandates refer to these institutions: Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca/Fiocruz, USP, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Universidade Federal de Lavras, UFLA, Universidade de São Paulo, USP. Besides these mandates registered, I know that, in last December, the University of Brasilia has approved its mandate. I have known that almost all universities that received their technologic kits to implement their institutional repository have tried to establish their mandates but their specific internal councils don’t approve them because they have difficult with their legal department. These departments have advocates from the government and they understand that the self-deposit contradicts provisions of copyright. Gradually this barrier is being overcome. At least we started the year 2013 with 5 mandates registered.

10. What is the role of Universities in OA in Brazil, and what should that role be in order to foster OA?

The role of universities in OA are: 1) establish a mandate to disseminate all the knowledge produced by the researches developed or in developing stage published on scientific journals; and 2) for this they should have to implement their IR’s to receive all these papers.

11. What is the role of Libraries in OA in Brazil, and what should that role be in order to foster OA?

When IBICT begun to distribute technological kits to implement institutional repositories, it didn’t specified the place or department where the IR must be hosted. Obviously, the university libraries were the main interested to host the IR. In my opinion, certainly, the university libraries have more condition to develop and host it and it is a natural place to keep the IR.

12. Who do you consider the main allies of OA in Brazil?

Obviously, CAPES – Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, that is subordinated to Ministry of Education, should be the mains ally but, this not happen, because this institution is a maintainer, the main responsible for the Portal de Periódicos, that provides access to serials publication to all public federal universities. Unhappily, this institution do what the publishers ask. There is a conflict of interests and it is not difficult to understand it. On the other hand, IBICT that is subordinated to another ministry, the MCTI, was a main institution that defended OA and has done some important actions since the beginning. Today, and from the recent three year what has IBICT done?! Almost nothing.

13. Who do you consider the main opponents of OA in Brazil?

Unhappily, I don’t have any prove and so, I can’t say his name. I suppose but, by myself.

14. Do you know how much the government invests every year in public research? If so, what is the number you have?

This number is very difficult to obtain because there are two ministries, one dedicated to research only e another dedicated to teaching and research. So, it is very difficult to get the value invested in public research. There are, yet, the state foundations like FAPESP and similar institutions for each state in Brazil. You can access a report called “National expenditures on research and development (R & D) of selected countries, 2000-2010”, but it is only a simple summary. There is another document from CAPES, that is the Global budget executed in 2007, see it at: So, it is very difficult to determine, for examples, how much cost the Portal de Periódicos da Capes. However, as Jorge Guimarães et alli said in their paper, page 237, the Portal de Periódicos cost in 2010, something like US$ 61 millions. So, see the paper.

15. What is the role of government agencies in Brazil and what should be their role in regard to fostering OA?

Well, our government agencies have many attributions, that vary from simply guaranteeing the scholarship and fund to scientific researches until to define funds to help the maintenance of educational institutions and science and technology developments. So, you have federal institutions, and state & municipal institutions. But, in my opinion all government institutions must guaranty the access to scientific information and, accord to this goal, they must stress the all universities and research center should create and maintain there RI and establish a mandate determining that all researchers, professors and students developing researches, in any scientific area, must deposit a copy of theirs papers published in any journals, obviously, respecting copyrights contracts.

16. What are the main barriers to OA in Brazil?

I think today the main barrier to OA in Brazil the lack of knowledge about it and the resistance offered by some actors in the national scenario.

17. Is there a supporting community for OA in Brazil?

In my opinion there are some dedicated persons that support firmly OA in Brazil but not a community specifically. 18. What were/are the main community driven activities or manifestos pro OA in Brazil?

In my opinion there is not any community driven activities pro OA in Brazil but, there are some persons that defend OA and has condition to lead important OA initiatives. There are some people who defend and / or lead OA initiatives, but today there is not an institution forward these initiatives. In the past when I was still working in IBICT and had some assignment that allowed me to develop projects or any other initiative, IBICT accomplished something. But today, this institution stopped in time. There is no people (staff) with competence to develop and lead the OA there.