March 30, 2011

Next Steps To Making Open Access A Global Reality

Two articles in this week's PLoS Medicine discuss the issues that need to be resolved to ensure that open access can provide for global information needs, and not just those of the developed world.

Leslie Chan, Barbara Kirsop, and Subbiah Arunachalam from the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development argue that access and distribution of public knowledge is currently governed by Northern standards, a situation that is increasingly inappropriate in what they call the "age of the networked Invisible College." Taking as a starting point that open access is sustainable and, in the way it builds independence has the capacity to establish a strong research base, they nevertheless say it is essential that standards for the assessment of journal quality and relevance in new open access journals do not ignore development needs nor marginalise local scholarship.

In a linked Editorial, the PLoS Medicine Editors agree that much remains to be done in improving access to information in the developing world. They note that by providing a logistical framework for open access, open access publishers have thus far done much to make it possible more widely. However, they conclude that the next crucial step is to engage with readers, researchers, and authors in the developing world to understand better their information needs.


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