“What goes around, comes around” may well serve as the motto of an effort undertaken by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) to provide access to premium online research journals in developing nations. Research4Life is the collective name for three public-private partnerships which seek to help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by providing the developing world with access to critical scientific and social science research. Beginning in 2002, the three programs: Health Access to Research Initiative (HINARI); Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA); and Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE), have given researchers at 4,500 institutions in 108 developing countries free or low cost access to over 7,000 journals provided by the world’s leading academic and professional publishers.
As STM’s Maurice Long explains for Chris Kenneally, “The things we in the USA, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia take for granted as being very cheap – airline travel, Internet – are very, very expensive things in the developing world, enormously expensive. And the infrastructure is sometimes very weak in terms of electrical supply.” The ambitious goal of Reseach4Life is more than to be charity, however, but to help make it possible that researchers in Africa, Asia, and South America can contribute back to the publications vital research and insights of their own. “The ingenuity of researchers, librarians, is quite amazing,” Long says. “We are fairly confident that what is being done in developing countries now will find its way into these publications.”
Copyright Clearance Center’s Deanna Wamae recently traveled to the Dominican Republic for a HINARI training session. “We heard from students and from researchers that through being able to access this content, they begin to feel confident about using it and absorbing it and understanding how, then, to produce content. As a result, they can begin to shape the scientific dialogue in the world.”