Local knowledge for local challenges


In an article originally published in Research Information, Siân Harris reflects on some of the stories from Publishers for Development conference, which brought together international scholarly publishers with librarians and researchers from Africa and south Asia


During the Vietnam War, many US soldiers fell victim to – and often died from – a mysterious disease. The cause was a pathogen named melioidosis – or Vietnamese Time Bomb, which lurks within the soil and produces symptoms that can appear to be other diseases. But is this only a Vietnamese problem?

Sri Lanka has many similarities with Vietnam so this was a question that Vasanthi Thevanesam, an emeritus professor of infectious diseases at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, wanted to address. She and colleagues identified that Vietnamese Time Bomb is indeed present in Sri Lanka and so worked towards a national diagnostic service for the disease; increased awareness amongst clinicians and laboratory providers; and improved public awareness. Continue reading

Research access and getting published: challenges in developing countries

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.

Interviews by Katie Lewis


What does a day in the life of researcher or librarian in the global South look like? Here, university staff from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana share their experiences of their daily work, accessing information and publishing research findings.

Translating research into practical solutions is vital for overcoming big global challenges like hunger, disease, inequality and climate change. But for these practical solutions to be effective, it is important to understand the local context. In-depth and locally generated knowledge is key to solving local development issues. Continue reading

Sri Lankan library consortium provides electronic scholarly information to the country’s universities and research institutions


This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


To create a vibrant research culture and raise the ranking of Sri Lankan universities, it is vitally important that the academics and students, especially postgraduates, are provided with unhindered access to scholarly journals in their respective fields. The Sri Lankan Library Consortium (CONSAL), supported by INASP, has been a vital tool in providing electronic scholarly information to universities and research institutions in Sri Lanka, and its journey is one to be proud of.

Sharanya Sekaram interviewed the Coordinator of CONSAL Pradeepa Wijetunga to find out moreContinue reading

What are publishers doing about global divides?

One of the speakers at next week’s Publishers for Development conference, Janet Remmington, gives a personal account of some of the work of the scholarly publisher Taylor & Francis towards addressing information needs in the global South.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


Our world is more connected than ever, and yet it is not.  In our information age, publications and data abound, but we see global unevenness in the creation, availability, and application of knowledge resources. Open Access is importantly part of the picture, yet it is still evolving and does not come without its own challenges. Also, the very role of evidence-based findings and critical debate for addressing the problems and opportunities of our world is under threat. In the reality of our mixed economy, what are publishers doing to address information needs of the global South? In what follows, is a brief personal account of some of the work of Taylor & FrancisContinue reading

Why opening up access to research findings in the global south will accelerate international development 

Dr Nilam Ashra-McGrath works for COMDIS-HSD, which is a consortium of NGOs in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Swaziland and the UK, and the University of Leeds, that does research on health service delivery interventions for a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases. In this post, she shares some of the challenges that the knowledge sector faces and reflects on the importance of access to research for NGO researchers.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


Research findings should be as accessible as possible. To my mind, there’s no doubt that opening up and speeding up access to research will be a powerful force in meeting international development targets. Giving access to everyone – citizens, NGOs, students, activists, government staff, donors and philanthropists – has the potential to reduce the amount of duplication in research and increase the level of scrutiny as to how research is funded, interpreted and used by different parties. This enables citizens to hold multiple parties to account. Continue reading

Overcoming challenges to research access in Sri Lanka 

Vasanthi Thevanesam is Emeritus Professor at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. In the context of her own research on infectious diseases, she explains why access to the latest research is so vital for academics and clinicians in developing countries.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


Large chunks of the population in many tropical countries, like Sri Lanka, are exposed to a number of infectious diseases rarely encountered in more developed countries. In order to reduce the incidence of such diseases, we need to monitor them accurately. This is a challenge, because there is currently very little accurate and reliable information about many of these infections at the local level in Sri Lanka. Continue reading

Strengthening libraries improves research access in Kenya

Dr Beatrice Achieng’ Odera-Kwach – the Senior Assistant Commission Secretary/Head of Department for Library and Information Services at the Commission for University Education in Nairobi, Kenya – shares her view on how strengthening libraries can help to overcome the challenges to research access in Kenya.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


Improved access to published research supports national and international development by improving education, accelerating discoveries and facilitating the sharing of knowledge. So, what concrete actions can be taken to enhance provision of and access to research literature in Kenya?

There are many challenges to the research and knowledge sector in Kenya. Prominent among these is inadequate funding of research which means that many universities struggle to afford what, with their limited budget allocations, are prohibitive subscription costs for international published electronic journals and books. This problem must be confronted, and I believe that library consortia have a key role to play in overcoming it. Continue reading

Advancing agricultural science and innovation for national development

Humphrey Kombe Keah – Information Management and Digital Services Specialist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya – discusses the opportunities and challenges of strengthening the research and knowledge sector in Kenya for the advancement of national development.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


I work as an Information Management and Digital Services Specialist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. My main area of work is in research support through information management and facilitating access to online electronic resources.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is part of a Consortium of 15 international agricultural research centres known as the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR’s mission is to advance agricultural science and innovation to enable poor people, especially women, to better nourish their families and to improve productivity and resilience so that they can share in economic growth and manage natural resources in the face of climate change and other challenges. Continue reading

Challenges of facilitating research access in Bangladesh

Dr M. Nazim Uddin is the Head and Senior Manager of the Library and Information Services Section at icddr,b, an international health research organization based in Dhaka. He gives a librarian’s perspective of the challenges of research access in Bangladesh

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


What should a library look like? For me, it should have five basic components: a building, professional staff members, resources (such as furniture and print and e-literature), budgets and users. In Bangladesh, the two most difficult components for librarians to manage are budgets and resources.

Let’s consider budgets, which of course are indispensable for administering any library. If the top level of management in an institution decides to slash the library budget, as quite often happens, this makes it very difficult for librarians to manage libraries and keep them well-stocked. I believe libraries are the backbone of any research organization; when library budgets are cut, it threatens the quality of the research produced at that organization, and consequently slows the development of the entire country. Continue reading

Consortium strengthens information access in Kenya

Jacinta Were, an INASP associate based in Kenya, discusses how INASP and the Kenyan library consortium have worked together for well over a decade to support sustainable access to electronic research information in the country.

This was originally published on the Practising Development blog.


I’ve known and worked with INASP for the last 15 years, mainly to support research in Africa. When INASP started working in Kenya we had gone for about six years without subscribing to any journals because there was no budget. When we did subscribe to a journal, it was just one at a time, in print form, and it would often take two years to arrive. When INASP arrived and explained what they were planning to do we welcomed them, we said “Yes, this is really the right time!”

I can speak for my country when I say that INASP support has rejuvenated libraries in Kenya, which are now able to support researchers. INASP introduced us to electronic library research literature. We are now able to access over 46,000 electronic journals and books and the researchers; having been reluctant in the beginning, are now hooked on them. Continue reading

Blogs you may like to re-read

The INASP Principles in practice: relationships between library consortia and publishers

Publishers for Development: principles, partnerships, responsible business

#inaspPrinciples: Publishers, work with library consortia for a win-win situation

From Principles to Practice: Conference gets library consortia and publishers working together

#inaspPrinciples for publishers 1: Taking the time to understand country context

#inaspPrinciples for publishers 2: Respect a country’s wish to negotiate as a consortium

#inaspPrinciples for publishers 3: Avoid making sudden changes

#inaspPrinciples for publishers 4 & 5: Pricing and sales, be realistic and predictable

What do #inaspPrinciples mean for Publishers?

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