Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More on OA in the developing world

Matthew J. Cockerill and Bart G.J. Knols, Open Access to Research for the Developing World, Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2008.  Excerpt:

...[D]eveloping countries are now more connected than ever before, and the digital infrastructure that now exists has the potential to transform access to knowledge. The primary obstacles are no longer technological but are related to issues of content licensing, distribution, and access control.

Access to knowledge is clearly a fundamental requirement for development....

The simplest and most reliable way to ensure that knowledge is available where and when it is needed is to avoid access barriers altogether through a universal open-access model....

[S]everal actions are necessary:

  • Subscription-only journals that publish research of relevance to developing countries should eliminate the barriers that still prevent many of those in developing countries from having access to that research.
  • Funders whose focus is global health should ensure that as a condition of funding, grant recipients are required to make the results of their research universally accessible. The policy of the Wellcome Trust, a significant player in research on global health issues, is exemplary in this area.
  • Research institutions should ensure that their authors are not discouraged by structural financial disincentives from making their research openly accessible. Institutions currently support subscription journal publishing through central library budgets. If open-access publishing is to compete on a level playing field, similar central support must be available to cover the cost of open-access publication. Many institutions are now setting up central open-access funds, supported by indirect costs received from funders. This is a promising model as it provides a scalable and sustainable basis for open access to the results of research.
  • Researchers working in fields of relevance to developing countries should investigate the many options for publishing their research in a way that guarantees fully universal access.
  • Last, those involved in international development efforts must consider how best to work with local communities to make effective use of the additional sources of knowledge that are now becoming available. Traditionally, the success of a research journal has been measured in terms of the number of citations that are generated. But in the case of medical research, for example, the goal is not simply to stimulate further research but to generate positive public health outcomes. We need to develop the means to measure and enhance the real impact of medical research in the developing world.

Also see the section on OA in the Forum of the same issue.  There are contributions from Mark Grabowsky, Malaria Coordinator for the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust.