Developing a New Paradigm for Scholarly Communication: the Case of Kyrgyzstan
Revolutionary development of the Internet resulted in such a great leap forward in scholarly communication, that is considered to be comparable by significance with Gutenberg's invention of the movable type printing press in 15th century. The arrival of new information technologies affords breathtaking opportunities with respect to rapidity of scholarly information exchange, information retrieval, and multimedia presentation, but also brings up serious issues concerning data archiving, intellectual property aspects, and peer review.
Transition to digital environment gave birth to new models and formats of scholarly communication such as electronic journals and monographs, forums and chats, open e-print archives, Darntons new model "Pyramid" and so on. Although there are still a number of problems in transition from paper-based distribution of knowledge to electronic one, the global trend is increasingly important role played by electronic scholarly communication in modern academic society.
The development and access to electronic scholarly networks is distributed extremely uneven among and within nations. While in industrialized countries widespread Internet access to libraries, databases, electronic academic discussion lists, and electronic communication are as ordinary as never before, in developing ones the situation is quite the contrary. Not only lack of access to the Internet is the major point. Lack of proper training in information technology, low accessibility of scholarly information, lack of electronic access to libraries, few opportunities to publish research data in international peer-reviewed journals are just a tip of the problem iceberg.
As in many CIS countries, after dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Kyrgyzstan science suffered sharp decline. Lack of funds for scientific research and deteriorating scholarly communication are two major factors responsible for slow development of science in Kyrgyzstan. Current scholarly communication system in the country is not only frozen at a point of 10 years ago, but degrades still further.
The crisis in science affected all actors involved in scholarly communication, namely writers, publishers, libraries, and readers turning them into marginalized groups:
Writers lost access to new scientific information,
experience difficulties in publication and science communication.
Despite repeated attempts made by different charitable
institutions to support an old paper-based scholarly communication system,
it may be said without exaggeration that it has no future prospects in
At the same time the government of Kyrgyzstan proceeds with development of legislative and technological basis in information and communication field. In 2002, in the frame of Comprehensive Development Framework, Kyrgyzstan adopted the National Strategy on Information and Communication Technologies for Development of Kyrgyz Republic which determines basic priorities, goal and objectives in the field of information and communication technologies. Accumulation of scientific and educational resources, promotion of science links, providing access to information resources worldwide and integration in international science and educational system are listed among objectives of the strategy. In addition, a number of communication projects were funded by aid agencies with a purpose to modernize existing telecommunication networks. Thus, the necessary prerequisites for development of scholarly communication in Kyrgyzstan are gradually being created.
However, there is still much uncertainty on a number
of issues such as current state and trends in scholarly communication
in Kyrgyzstan and worldwide, how efficient new models of science communication
based on electronic systems can be if applied in Kyrgyzstan, what are
investment priorities in the country for the most efficient development
of scholarly communication system, what should be a national policy in
the field of scholarly communication and so on. The project proposed aimed
at examination of these and some other policy issues in the field.
The goal of the project is to explore current status of the scholarly communication system in Kyrgyzstan and propose a new paradigm for science information exchange using Internet technologies.
The objectives of the project are:
Preliminary plan for the project implementation consist of 5 work tasks which will be fulfilled for a period of 1 year in Hungary and Kyrgyzstan.
Work Task (WT) 1. Analysis of Global Tendencies in Scholarly
Work Task (WT) 2. Research of the Scholarly Communication
System in Kyrgyzstan
Work Task (WT) 3. Developing New Models: Access to Science
Information in Kyrgyzstan
Work Task (WT) 4. Developing New Models: Scholarly Electronic
Publishing in Kyrgyzstan
Work Task (WT) 5. Writing a Research and Policy Paper
Project findings and recommendations will be published (as a print copy and web-site) and distributed among relevant institutions including Academy of Science, Council on Information and Communication Technologies, Ministry of Education, associations of science publishers, professional science associations, libraries, and international developing agencies in Kyrgyzstan.
Globally, as state of scholarly communication is quite similar in many Central Asia countries, the outcomes of the project will equally be useful on the regional scale and this project may be used as a model for implementation in other countries. Appropriate stakeholders in these countries will be notified of the project and materials will be distributed if necessary.