Serbia’s scientists rise to defend access to papers

In just three days more than 3,000 of Serbia’s scientists have signed a petition aimed at the Serbian Government and Ministry of Science to preserve access to journals thorough a Serbian library service KoBSON, following loss of access to Oxford University Press materials earlier this month (9 April).

The service first announced its funding woes last December, when most databases and publishers gave it three months’ grace period. Yet the government did not provide the funding in time, which led to the discontinuation of OUP access and prompted the grassroots petition.

“KoBSON is one of the most important and valuable resources available to the Serbian scientific and academic community,” the petition reads. “It’s lost now.”

“Without it our students, professors, scientists and industry are isolated from the rest of the world. Without KoBSON these groups of people, who are our future, lost the most basic tool needed to do their job (imagine yourself without internet, mobile phone, TV, radio and everything else that helps you stay connected). We put our progress on hold which in an ever-changing world means we’re going backwards.”

The reasons for signing the petition are mainly given as it being an absolute necessity in the day-to-day work of Serbia’s scientists.

For example, Ivan Grahek, a cognitive scientist from Belgrade wrote: “I am a researcher and this is one of the most important tools for my daily work.”

And young scientists are also citing its importance for their future careers.

Aleksandra Pavićević from Belgrade wrote: “I am at the very beginning of my scientific career, and I would like to live and work in my own country. Without KoBSON, I won’t be able to do anything.”

Since then, the funds have been ensured, according to Biljana Kosanović, coordinator of KoBSON at the National Library of Serbia, who says the petitioners’ comments highlight the importance of the database.

Mićo Tatalović

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