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INASP – strengthening the global research cycle

Working together to improve international access to scientific research through Open Access.

I work for the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) www.inasp.info and was recently given the opportunity to talk about work during Oxford Journals day – hosted by OUP. While there I met Pat Heslop-Harrison of the Annals of Botany journal. In talking, it soon became apparent that a number of areas INASP’s work chimed in a very harmonious way with the Annals of Botany, not least the desire for an international readership and the inclusion of research from developing as well as developed countries.

A Nepali Participant of INASP
A Nepali Participant of INASP.

Established over 20 years ago in 1992, INASP is a development organization working in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. INASP’s programmes are designed to increase all aspects of the global research cycle – availability, access, use, creation and communication. When INASP began, one of the core aims was about increasing the availability of international research in developing country libraries and equipping library professional with the skills needed to manage resources and ensure sustainable access. These activities are still very important under our “Research Access and Availability” umbrella, however, the sort of information literacy training we once undertook has evolved over the years and our work now focusses on these key areas:

  • Training the trainer & pedagogy skills
  • Marketing and promotion of e-resources
  • Monitoring & evaluating e-resource usage
  • Working together to support research: librarians + researchers / ICT staff
  • Library marketing and advocacy
  • Library school curriculum development
  • Consortium strengthening activities
  • Licensing and negotiation skills

These programme activities are designed to help our partners in developing countries take ownership of the development of their work. In many cases these are implemented via local library consortia or country coordination teams so that the capacity strengthened is robust, and can respond to changes in the local socio-economic, political or personnel situation.

A truly global research cycle – increasing the publication of developing country research
A global research cycle also needed to equip people with the skills to publish their own research in indigenous journals and also to help early career researchers with the publishing process.

Developing Local Journals

To address the issue of local publication the Journals Online (JOLs) programme was developed – The JOLs began with Africa Journals Online which is now successfully hosted in South Africa. Subsequently there have been developments of JOLs for Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Vietnam, and also Latin America. INASP colleagues provide training to local editors to help ensure their journals have the necessary standards for publications and also facilitate an online platform to host the JOLs on so that they are able to receive global visibility and use, this is a far step away for many which were originally only available in print form in university departments. To take a look the JOLs visit www.inasp.info/jols and select those that interest you. Much of the content is now available open access.

Skills for early careers researchers

AuthorAID is an online global community enabling early career researchers to receive support in publishing and communicating their work – currently there over 6,500 members. Some of the key activities include mentoring by volunteers, online training delivered via Moodle and also support in preparing poster and oral presentations and writing grant proposals: www.authoraid.info

Some recent stats on AuthorAID from 2012 show just how much use the site and related activities are getting:

  • Over 80,000 visits to the website
  • 6539 registrants (compared with 595 April 2009)
  • Travel grants: 6 awarded to allow participants to present their research at international conferences
  • 162 participants at workshops in Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sri Lanka
  • 2 e-learning courses run for 75 learners

We are always looking for new mentors for AuthorAID so please get in contact if this is something you or a colleague would be interested in exploring. You can read the case study of one of AuthorAID’s mentors, Dr Daniel S. Korbel from the Wellcome Trust [PDF] or get more information from the AuthorAID website.

Publishers for Development (PfD)

INASP’s work with international publishing partners has also evolved over the years. Increasingly the conversations I was having were no longer simply about how journals could be made available, rather it was about how we could collectively ensure that researchers were aware of them, how they could be used in low-bandwidth environments and also how publishers could increase the inclusion of developing country research in their resources. This led to Publishers for Development (PfD) www.pubs-for-dev.info being set-up in 2008. PfD is an advocacy initiative established with the Association of Commonwealth Universities – it is designed to explore some of the unique challenges developing country libraries, researchers and publishers experience and also provide an opportunity for publishers to keep up-to-date and feed their input into the work all parties are undertaking to lessen the digital divide.

The importance of partnerships and cooperation

At the heart of all our work and the way we plan our activities is the importance of partnerships and cooperation to achieve these aims, avoid duplication and strengthen our efforts towards the robust local and international research and knowledge systems we seek. So if you would like information about PfD or any of our work I would encourage you to get in contact, you can email me on lbrowse -at-inasp.info

1 comment

  1. Thanks, Lucy, for this excellent summary of INASP’s work. As you know I work for AuthorAID, mainly in e-learning. I just wanted to add an updated statistic regarding our online courses: we’ve just finished running the 3rd online course in research writing. The latest course was in partnership with Blacksmith Institute, a non-profit addressing environmental health issues in developing countries. So far, more than 100 researchers from 20+ developing countries have taken our 5-week online courses (avg completion rate around 85%), and we’re looking to collaborate with more partners especially in developing countries to run future courses.

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