Achieving an Equitable Transition to Open Access

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Over the past two decades, the Research For Life initiative has sought to close the world’s knowledge gap. A global coalition of UN entities, NGOs, publishers, and universities, Research For Life now provides free or very low-cost access to thousands of research publications, books, and online resources in lower- and middle-income countries, from Armenia to Vietnam.

A new white paper assesses the current level of uptake of open access publishing models in those countries and examines barriers to adoption of OA.

Produced by the International Center for the Study of Research at Elsevier, in collaboration with the International Association of STM Publishers, the report, “Achieving an Equitable Transition to Open Access,” suggests actions that publishers and institutions can take to support researchers and to ensure that the emerging research publishing paradigm is more inclusive.

“Open access does create a whole new set of challenges,” explains Andrea Powell, STM’s director of outreach and publisher coordinator for the Research for Life initiative.

“On the one hand, it makes a large amount of content much more readily accessible, because there are no subscription barriers. In fact, we include about 14,000 open access journals in the Research For Life collection. So we ensure that access to that content is easy for our registered users.

“But on the other hand, open access as a publishing business model creates a different kind of obstacle, because it prevents researchers with limited access to funds from publishing in those outlets,” Powell tells me. “So while the open access model has created in many ways a more level playing field for access to knowledge, when it comes to being part of the research process and making one’s own research available, for those researchers who are striving to become part of the international research community, it simply moves the barrier to a different place.”

To listen to my recent podcast interview with Powell, click here.

Achieving an Equitable Transition to Open Access

Christopher Kenneally

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's podcast series Beyond the Book, which debuted in 2006 and has posted over 1.5 million downloads. As CCC's Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.

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