Some Observations on Research4Life’s New Strategic Plan for Vision 2030 – The Scholarly Kitchen

“To me the new R4L strategy is an exciting one, not only because of the amount of effort that was put into gathering evidence before preparing it, but also for three other reasons. First, over the past 20 years, R4L has evolved into an influential platform bringing together five UN agencies, more than 200 publishers, two top universities of the world, and several technical partners to support the Global South’s to access research. Second, R4L currently benefits hundreds and thousands of researchers in over 10,500 institutions located in more than 125 countries who are accessing more than 163,000 journals and books. The estimated worth of this access is more than US$ 48 million per year. My country, Bangladesh, hosts 481 institutions (as of 2021), which is surpassed only by Nigeria (705) and Nepal (592). It was simply amazing to listen to librarians and researchers express how they appreciated R4L as I was conducting the R4L users’ interviews. So, it was no surprise when researchers said R4L was very valuable for their careers (97% of respondents), for their research skills (86%), and for their research quality (87%) as well as quantity (78%).

Third, since the inception of R4L in 2002, many positive and not-so-positive developments have taken place in the scholarly publishing sector: open access and preprints are changing the still predominantly subscription-based journal publishing landscape; predatory journals and piracy against paywall-restricted journals remains a concern; infrastructural advancements are transforming publishing workflows and journal access, making the whole system almost paperless; and the focus on sustainable development as well as DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) has gained significant traction in the publishing industry. It’s therefore quite natural to expect some significant shifts in R4L’s strategy as the organization enters in its third decade….”

Connecting Sustainable Development, Publishing Ethics, and the North-South Divide – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The divide between the North and the South in scholarly publishing is often discussed and studied. We have also made some progress in reducing this gap, for example, in accessing research (e.g., Research4Life brings many global publishers under one umbrella to support the Global South), in publishing research (e.g., open access (OA) journals offer article processing charge (APC) waivers and discounts to researchers of Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)), and in reducing geographical inequity (e.g., by publishing regional OA journals). Although we don’t often talk about the North-South divide in publishing ethics, a recent study shows a large variation in the awareness of academic integrity at the universities in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Developing countries’ organized battles against predatory journals can also be seen on some rare occasions….”

Connecting Sustainable Development, Publishing Ethics, and the North-South Divide – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Recently, I was preparing a talk for a NISO Plus 2022’s (February 15-17, 2022) panel on ‘Working towards a more ethical information community’. I started asking myself, if sustainable development works towards a just and ethical society, how does it deal with the Global North-South divide in the ethics of scholarly publishing?… 

Under global programs, like Research4Life, institutions of my Least Developed Country (LDC), Bangladesh, are now accessing thousands of journals for free and researchers are enjoying the APC waivers offered by many journals. But, all this will change in 2026, when Bangladesh will graduate from the LDC list. Do we realize that a change in a country’s economic status does not necessarily correspond with a change in that country’s research system and investments in it? Have we thought of any ethical coping mechanism for the researchers and authors of countries in similar economic transitions?

We need to ask ourselves, as we work toward the SDGs, can we really have an ethical scholarly community without addressing such a dynamic North-South divide? More specifically, are we contextualizing enough the ethical considerations of the North for the South as we address this divide? …”

 

E-Videos Are Going Open Access!

Abstract:  2022 will see an important change to Endoscopy’s E-Video section: with the ever-growing demand for this format and the steady rise of open access as an important publication mode, E-Videos will be published open access in the future. Benefits for authors include retaining full copyright of their publication and experiencing faster impact of their research as others can quickly built on their findings.

E-Video papers submitted on or after 1 January 2022 and accepted for publication will be subject to an open access article publication charge (APC) of EUR 375 per E-Video paper. All E-Videos will be published with a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

Endoscopy E-Videos qualify for HINARI discounts and waivers, and eligibility is automatically checked during the submission process. A full list of countries participating in HINARI can be found at https://www.who.int/hinari/eligibility/en/

PLOS Announces New Publishing Agreements with CRL and NERL – The Official PLOS Blog

“In concert with Open Access Week, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) is pleased to announce an agreement with NorthEast Research Libraries (NERL) and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) to participate in PLOS’ three innovative publishing models. This three-year agreement provides researchers from NERL and CRL affiliated institutions with unlimited publishing privileges in PLOS journals without incurring fees. NERL and CRL combined have more than 200 Members….

All PLOS journals are underpinned by existing – and new – institutional business models that move beyond the APC to ensure more equitable and regionally appropriate ways to support Open Access publishing. PLOS’ institutional models are Community Action Publishing (CAP)[1], Flat Fees [2], and the Global Equity model[3]. PLOS will waive the annual fee if a member institution is in a Research4Life country….”

RUP Announces Free Read-and-Publish for Developing Countries | Rockefeller University Press

“To address equity in Open Access publishing and promote important global research, publication fees for Immediate Open Access under CC-BY license in Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), and Journal of General Physiology (JGP) are automatically waivedfor corresponding authors based in eligible developing countries. This includes deposit in PubMed Central (PMC) and archive in LOCKSS/CLOCKSS and Portico….”

RUP Announces Free Read-and-Publish for Developing Countries | Rockefeller University Press

“To address equity in Open Access publishing and promote important global research, publication fees for Immediate Open Access under CC-BY license in Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), and Journal of General Physiology (JGP) are automatically waivedfor corresponding authors based in eligible developing countries. This includes deposit in PubMed Central (PMC) and archive in LOCKSS/CLOCKSS and Portico….”

Guest Post – APC Waiver Policies; A Job Half-done? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Most, if not all, open access publishers offer to waive publication charges (of whatever flavor) for researchers in lower and middle-income countries (LMICs) without access to funds to pay them. After all, no-one wants to see open access actually increasing barriers and reducing diversity and inclusion in direct opposition to one of its fundamental objectives. However, as an echo of the “build it and they will come” mentality, waiver policies may end up failing to achieve their intended outcome if they are poorly constructed and communicated to their intended beneficiaries. A recent study by INASP revealed that fully 60% of respondents to an AuthorAID survey had paid Article Processing Charges (APCs) from their own pockets, despite the widespread availability of waivers. This could be due to internal organizational bureaucracy but more likely to the lack of awareness and understanding of APC waivers and how to claim them.

A White Paper published jointly by STM and Elsevier’s International Center for the Study of Research in September 2020 on how to achieve an equitable transition to open access included a specific recommendation to make publisher policies on APC waivers more consistent and more transparent. The authors commented, “Even though this business model may turn out to be an interim step on the road to universal open access, it is likely to persist for several years to come and may unwittingly end up preventing much important research from reaching its intended audience.”…”

Guest Post – Trends, Challenges, and Needs of Research in the Global South: Learnings as Research4Life Turns 20 – The Scholarly Kitchen

Access to research knowledge is essential for developing new research and for informed policy decisions. But access to knowledge is not equal around the world; researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are significantly disadvantaged by access challenges. This was the burning problem that Research4Life was set up to address, 20 years ago this year as the print to electronic migration was just gaining speed. Launched as Hinari by the World Health Organization (WHO) with 1500 journals from six major publishers, it now offers users up to 132,000 resources from 180 international partners. But partnering with publishers to facilitate access is not enough in itself; the resources have to be used effectively in a way that is relevant to users’ research, implementation and beyond. This is why, every five years Research4Life commissions in-depth reviews of its work to understand how the work of the partnership is experienced from the users’ as well as the partners’ perspectives – looking at its infrastructure, external context or landscape, and user experience. Together, the reviews serve as a solid evidence base for future evolution as Research4Life plans its strategy for the next five years. Our most recent set of evaluations were conducted in 2020-2021.

Guest Post – Trends, Challenges, and Needs of Research in the Global South: Learnings as Research4Life Turns 20 – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Access to research knowledge is essential for developing new research and for informed policy decisions. But access to knowledge is not equal around the world; researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are significantly disadvantaged by access challenges.

This was the burning problem that Research4Life was set up to address, 20 years ago this year as the print to electronic migration was just gaining speed. Launched as Hinari by the World Health Organization (WHO) with 1500 journals from six major publishers, it now offers users up to 132,000 resources from 180 international partners. But partnering with publishers to facilitate access is not enough in itself; the resources have to be used effectively in a way that is relevant to users’ research, implementation and beyond.

This is why, every five years Research4Life commissions in-depth reviews of its work to understand how the work of the partnership is experienced from the users’ as well as the partners’ perspectives – looking at its infrastructure, external context or landscape, and user experience. Together, the reviews serve as a solid evidence base for future evolution as Research4Life plans its strategy for the next five years. Our most recent set of evaluations were conducted in 2020-2021….”

Press release: New Research4Life User Review sheds light on users’ needs and challenges

“Research4Life programs make a significant positive difference to research experiences in low- and middle-income countries – but only when users know they are available and how to use them.

This is a key finding of an independent Research4Life user experience review conducted during 2020 using a combination of interviews, surveys and focus groups by INASP across a range of countries and institution types: the findings will guide Research4Life’s future work in reducing the knowledge gap between researchers in industrialized nations and those in low- and middle-income countries….”

New nonprofit boosts Research4Life’s mission to build research capacity in lower- and middle-income countries

“Friends of Research4Life, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in the United States, was launched to support the critical mission of the Research4Life partnership to enable full participation in the global information environment. Organizations and individuals can now make contributions that directly benefit Research4Life programs….”

Research4Life: Landscape and situation analysis: Review – Hill – – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Key points

 

The report was undertaken by Research4Life to assess their strategic position using a variation on the PESTEL framework; it contains insights valuable to researchers, publishers, and funders working in developing countries.
Growth in research funding and the number of researchers who need access to scholarly literature and research data indicates a continuing need for Research4Life.
Open access (OA) and associated developments could undermine Research4Life’s value proposition, and similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI)?based search engines and scholarly social media platforms could render Research4Life’s existing interface uncompetitive.
The Covid?19 pandemic introduces some uncertainty into the overall picture, with the probability of significant budget pressures for universities, research funders, and publishers.
Following this, work has commenced on ways a transition can be made to OA in an equitable manner, avoiding creation of new barriers to access in lower? and middle?income countries….”

Open Access and Global South: It is More Than a Matter of Inclusion – The Scholarly Kitchen

“My third point is on the OA model itself. The white paper assumes the Gold OA model as “the” model, and then explores avenues to bring the Global South in. In 2018, the LMICs constituted 5.5% of world’s publications indexed in Scopus. In the same year, 23% of articles published by these countries were in OA journals, while 75% were in subscription journals. While looking into how the South is doing with OA, we also need to convince OA journal publishers to engage with the South more — not only working with them as authors, but also as peer-reviewers and editors. We also need to look into the wide range of APCs available: from zero APC in subsidized Gold OA journals to US$ 9,900 to publish in Elsevier’s Cell. Transparency in determining APCs might clarify how much of it is actual expense, how much is profit, and how much the author is paying for the brand value.

My final point is that when we talk about OA, we essentially talk about journals published by big, commercial publishers from the Global North. We need to bring the OA journals of the South to the discussion. It could be argued that the editorial process and quality of these journals are not up to the mark, these journals are not indexed, they do not have “impact” as defined by Impact Factor or CiteScore. But, they do publish data and information important for a particular country or a region, and these data could be crucial in crisis moments, like pandemics, natural calamities, and climate change….”