This year, the fifth annual Publishers for Development (PfD) conference explored current developments in scholarly communication including their impact on publishers, researchers and information professionals in the global South. The rapid growth in open access, the potential for social media to increase communication of research and also new measures for the way research is used were all topics viewed from a Southern perspective.
The one-day conference was held in London on 15 October and titled ‘Forward Thinking: Developing a global research cycle which fully engages South and North’. It brought together publishers from 16 publishing houses, librarians and researchers from universities in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Also present were representatives of organisations involved in research access, production and use such as the World Bank, African Journals Online, Research4Life, Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA), Talloires Network and Partnerships in Health Information.
The conference emphasised the imperative need for advocacy at institutional and national level to ensure that the gains made in information access over the last 10 years are maintained, and indeed strengthened. The event also built on key messages from earlier years and called upon publishers to:
- Consider why access to research information is crucial for developing countries
- Use their networks to promote resource awareness
- Provide promotional materials and training where possible
- Develop low-bandwidth websites
- Encourage inclusion of developing country research in their journals
- Recognise the vital role of ‘local’ publishers and publishing.
The crucial role played by librarians and information professionals was highlighted throughout the conference, not least by a Sage presentation and accompanying panel discussion which considered the findings of their recent report ‘Library Value in the Developing World’. Publishers also heard first-hand experiences of the challenges faced when working in developing country libraries – these emphasised the need for stronger relationships between librarians, academics, and vice-chancellors to deliver more effective library services.
The role of ‘local’ publishers was exemplified by a presentation from Susan Murray at African Journals Online which described a recent survey into the current state of scholarly publishing in Africa. PfD will be examining this research in more detail as the findings are fully evaluated.
Lucy Browse, PfD Director at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) said: ‘PfD brings together the publishing community with the librarians, associations, academies and other organisations and individuals helping to ensure research takes its place at the core of socioeconomic development. This year it was fantastic to be able to explore the vital role that Southern publishing has within the global research cycle’.
Jay Kubler, Senior Research Officer at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) observed: ‘Once again, the PfD conference provided a thought-provoking and lively forum for discussions around research accessibility and uptake in low and middle income countries. Participants welcomed the refreshing exchange of perspectives and ideas from the global South and North and the opportunity to hear about exciting new initiatives to promote research availability, impact and use for development.’
Further information about the conference, including presentations, can be found in the 2013 conference section.