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….”

Equitable access to research in a changing world: Research4Life Landscape and Situation Analysis · The Knowledge Futures Commonplace

“This Research4Life Landscape and Situation Analysis, therefore, provides extremely pertinent and valuable insights into the shifting dynamics and external influences at play, from Global Megatrends down to Trends in Scholarly Communication, which will serve as an invaluable scene-setting contextualisation for the whole Research4Life Reviews project.  Given the extremely interesting and useful reflections provided here, the Research4Life Executive Council is happy to share its insights and conclusions with other stakeholders in the wider research communication ecosystem and indeed the broader world.” 

NGOs’ experiences of navigating the open… | F1000Research

Abstract:  Grant-led consortia working in the global development sector rely on the input of local and national non-government organisations in low- and middle-income countries. However, the open access mandates and mechanisms embedded within grants and promoted by funders and publishers are designed almost exclusively with large universities and research institutions in mind. Experiences from the consortium of health research non-government organisations comprising the Communicable Diseases Health Service Delivery research programme show that implementing open access mandates is not as simple or frictionless as it initially appears.

 

NGOs’ experiences of navigating the open… | F1000Research

Abstract:  Grant-led consortia working in the global development sector rely on the input of local and national non-government organisations in low- and middle-income countries. However, the open access mandates and mechanisms embedded within grants and promoted by funders and publishers are designed almost exclusively with large universities and research institutions in mind. Experiences from the consortium of health research non-government organisations comprising the Communicable Diseases Health Service Delivery research programme show that implementing open access mandates is not as simple or frictionless as it initially appears.

 

Free the Science

“Free the Science is The Electrochemical Society’s initiative to move toward a future that embraces open science to further advance research in our fields. This is a long-term vision for transformative change in the traditional models of communicating scholarly research….ECS publishes over a third of its journal articles as open access. Other ECS programs that advance the shift to open science include a preprint server through a partnership with the Center for Open Science, enhanced research dissemination with Research4Life, ECS OpenCon, and expanding our publications to include more research in data sciences….”

Justice and Bioethics: Who Should Finance Academic Publishing?: The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol 17, No 10

“We applaud the authors of this article (Chattopadhyay et al. 2017 Berger E. 2017) for tackling an important and often neglected topic in bioethics: the challenges that our underresourced colleagues face in conducting research and contributing to the literature in bioethics. Indeed, one of us (U.S.) has spent a good deal of his career attempting to draw attention to this problem and ameliorate it.

Though we are sympathetic to the concerns raised in their article there are several issues that have not been adequately addressed. The first is to be sensitive to an important distinction, namely, that between low-income and middle-income countries as defined by the Human Development Index. Low-income countries’ academic institutions have, as Chattopadhyay and colleagues point out, free access to all major bioethics journals via HINARI. There might be bureaucratic hoops and loops libraries jump through, but it can be done, provided there is sufficient interest in those countries in achieving access.

The authors point out some of the other obstacles faced by scholars in these countries, such as unreliable access to electricity or the Internet. One could add violence and gender inequality in many of these countries as serious challenges to many researchers or potential scholars. Obviously, the fundamental lack of infrastructure to support researchers in these countries is lamentable. Presumably the authors recognize that these issues are far outside the scope of the role or ability of academic journals (much as we wish we had the power to intervene on these issues).

Then there are countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico, and China that do not enjoy free access to academic journal content via HINARI. This is potentially an obstacle to access for scholars in these countries. These are countries that are not devastatingly impoverished. Parts of China have a higher gross domestic product (GDP) than certain parts of the United States. …”