Publishers can make research work for development, but responsible business approaches are key

Publishers have a vital role in maximising access to research to support academics in developing countries – and this work is fundamental in supporting development globally. This was the key message for representatives from publishing houses and developing country universities as well as current researchers at the sixth annual Publishers for Development (PfD) conference, held in Oxford last week.

At the conference, titled “Research matters for developing countries”, delegates explored the link between research, higher education and development, the steps publishers might take to reconcile business and development needs, and the real difficulties faced by academic institutions and researchers in developing countries across the world.

A number of calls to action were issued – mentoring developing country researchers through AuthorAID, getting involved in the HE Beyond 2015 campaign and continuing to make sure resources are available in low-bandwidth environments.

Innovations explored included how targeted grants can support developing country researchers share their work internationally, expanding the practise of digitisation, librarian-led rural information outreach programmes, and the potential rejuvenation of university presses that might bring researchers closer to the publication process.

Professor John Wood CBE FREng, Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, said: “It is clear that there are very real barriers preventing academics in the developing world from accessing vital research material. While there is no single solution, events such as the annual Publishers for Development conference, which bring together people from all sides of the debate, bring us closer to implementing practical and workable solutions. The ACU will continue to work with INASP to facilitate such discussions and drive forward this agenda.”

Lucy Browse, PfD Director, INASP added: “Very real gains have been made in terms of research access over the last 20 years – we must see this galvanised by the current and future practices of publishers with regards to responsible business approaches in developing countries. PfD brings representatives from publishing houses together with developing country colleagues so we can map the future path together – for the benefit of higher education, research and development”

Attendees were asked to consider the following questions which will be explored via PfD throughout 2014 and into 2015:

  • What role do you feel research, with the use of academic journals at its heart, has in international development?
  • What barriers remain to research access (and publication) in developing countries?
  • What are the opportunities you see for research access and publication in developing countries over the next 5 years?
  • What kind of partnerships do you think universities and publishers could make to improve access for researchers?
  • How do you believe this conference and the work of PfD helps address these issues?

For more information, see the agenda and speakers pages. Presentations are also available through the agenda page.


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