Getting in the Access Loop: Time for Research and Action | Speaking of Medicine 2012-07-10


“Despite the fact that ‘Getting in the Access Loop’took place after working hours on a Friday, incredibly, over 50 participants tuned in to the webinar from across Africa, or gathered together at the University of Cambridge, to grapple with the problems of publishing health research in and from Africa. throughout the conversation it became apparent that one of the key barriers to publishing health research in Africa is time.  Even for those awarded research fellowships, prohibitively intensive teaching loads and, occasionally, secondary posts to supplement income, left nearly no time to do primary research let alone get on a slow or unreliable computer to do more research and write up for publication... Debbie Marias of COHRED saw a broader, systemic problem at the root of this: many institutions just do not have the capacity to support research... Participants agreed that there is a need for a stronger culture of reading, sharing and networking with colleagues—in essence a culture of dialogue and mentorship.  But developing this culture, again, requires time, and also other resources and incentives. In her post as part of this series, Janice Pedersen from RAND Europe will explore the issue of mentorship more deeply later this week. So how to affect a cultural shift?  Allan Mwesiga of the Pan African Medical Journal proposes that ‘local’ African journals have a role to play now in building research and writing capacity, and providing mentoring opportunities (see his forthcoming piece next week).  Also, programmes like THRiVE are working to foster a culture of mentorship and of excellence in research.  But mentors can only do so much without university guarantees to support researchers (with time and compensation to do research) and, realistically, without additional resources, including good internet connectivity. The fact remains that internet connections in many African universities are slow and unreliable.   Organisations like Aptivate work to allay some of the frustration and impracticality of slow connections through tools such as loband—which strips webpages down to raw content. Open Access journals, like PLoS, try to make articles accessible by the researcher’s preferred means: OA allows for articles to be printed, copied and shared so that the information is still available when the internet is not. And increasingly there’s movement towards using mobile technology to make articles available to researchers and practitioners on a continent where significantly more people have mobile phones than internet (and, in some countries, electricity). Yet, with all of these barriers in place, on a Friday evening African researchers, librarians, publishers, developers—even heads of departments—were making the time to reach out to one another, and to colleagues in Europe and the US, to energetically work towards building stronger pathways for dialogue and action, and to enable more health researchers in Africa to do the same.”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.comment oa.universities oa.plos oa.open_science oa.sustainability oa.funders oa.recommendations oa.publishing oa.u.cambridge oa.thrive oa.hifa2015 oa.loband oa.aptivate oa.cohred oa.infrastructure oa.hei oa.journals oa.economics_of oa.south



Date tagged:

07/10/2012, 21:19

Date published:

07/10/2012, 21:34