Can Our Worlds Meet in the Middle?


Ongoing calls for social change have drawn attention to the need in scholarly publishing for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion, including for peer review, editorial practices, and business models.

At CCC, we have developed RightsLink for Scientific Communications to enable publishers to scale their global Open Access (OA) programs with institutions, consortia, and funders. Our efforts – along with partners including OA Switchboard –support scholarly publishing to establish a more diverse, inclusive, and accessible scholarly communications network across borders.

That’s why I was so pleased to speak with Dr. Haseeb Irfanullah for the recent Researcher to Reader (R2R) conference.

Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Irfanullah helps organizations to develop strategies and programs for accessing, conducting, communicating, and utilizing research on environmental governance, natural resource management and climate change adaptation. He is also the first Scholarly Kitchen “chef” based in the Global South.

At R2R in 2020, delegates had considered whether it is sufficient for the Global South only to replicate the established systems of research, communication, and evaluation.

Two years and a pandemic later, Dr. Irfanullah told me an entirely new and mutual approach is necessary, one that welcomes diversity.

“As a biologist by training, I see scholarly publishing as a kind of extremely diverse ecosystem, like a forest or like a wetland,” he said. “We need to think of the diversity that we all have when we are together. Diversity is a strength, and not just diversity of number, but with how many publishing options there are, how many technologies, how many platforms you have.”

From my perspective at CCC, as an intermediary, I see many important initiatives from individual publishers as well as collaborations between publishers and institutions. For example, author education and outreach are raising awareness of financial assistance programs. There are concerted efforts to capture better DEI data, too.

When it comes to closing the gap separating Global North and Global South, Dr. Irfanullah and I agreed that there is plenty of ground to meet in the middle.

“The North needs to look beyond the current networks that it has been maintaining. It must go out of its comfort zone and look beyond the ‘usual suspects.’ It must look for unusual suspects,” he suggested.

“We also need to understand what the issues are driving the South,” Dr. Irfanullah continued. “What are the concerns there? What are the realities? Because many of those countries are passing through economic transition. They are in cultural transition also.

“Of course, the entire world is experiencing great transition in our lives and work,” Dr. Irfanullah concluded. “Why then don’t we come together and collaborate and help out each other?” 

 Indeed, if we are to improve accessibility and equity in Open Research, scholarly publishing, the current narrative will need to change – from global division to global community. 

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Author: Jamie Carmichael

Jamie Carmichael brings more than 17 years’ experience in publishing to her current role as Senior Director, Publisher Solutions, at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). In this position, she oversees the product marketing practice for CCC’s publisher portfolio, with a focus on RightsLink® for Scientific Communications.
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