Support needed to include developing countries in the research cycle, publishers urged
Publishers need to coordinate support across their editorial, IT, sales, and marketing teams – and ultimately at board level – to help ensure that developing country researchers are included in the research cycle.
This was the main message emerging from the third annual Publishers for Development conference, held in London on 2 December. The conference, which brought together representatives from 24 publishing houses, encouraged delegates to recognise that they have more to offer to developing country libraries than just the availability of journals.
The conference also called upon publishers to:
- support sustainable and equitable availability
- encourage the inclusion of developing country research in their journals
- think low-bandwidth – and provide options to increase accessibility
- use their networks to promote awareness
- provide promotional materials and cooperate with local outreach and agencies where possible
- recognise the role of ‘local’ publishers and publishing
Publishers for Development – a joint initiative of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) – aims to address the critical issues facing researchers and librarians in developing countries by bringing publishers into conversation with them and providing a forum to debate and share experiences.
Jonathan Harle, Programme Officer at the ACU, said ‘Researchers from developing countries often report poorer access to essential academic literature, and that they struggle to get their own research published in leading journals. As a result, they are often underrepresented in global research and disconnected from international scientific communities. Publishers can provide an important contribution to making the vision of a global research cycle a reality’.
The conference – titled ‘Getting Research to Researchers in Developing Countries: The Complex Picture of Availability, Access and Use’ – focused particularly on east and southern Africa. Speakers included librarians from universities in Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi, as well as representatives from major access initiatives, society publishers, and the open access movement.
Presentations covered topics such as innovative approaches to teaching search skills and how best to develop low-bandwidth sites and entry points to improve the user experience where internet connectivity is poor. Publishers also heard about how librarians are working with each other and with academic colleagues to deliver more effective library services and enhance research.
First-hand experience of the challenges faced when working in developing country libraries was also presented. The need for stronger relationships between librarians, academics, and vice-chancellors was emphasised.
Lucy Browse, Head of Information Delivery at INASP said ‘Publishers for Development is gaining momentum – there seems to be a growing commitment from the publishing community to put the needs of developing country researchers, libraries, and institutions on their agendas. We are already seeing how discussions and actions are encouraging positive change’.