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Knowledge not available due to fees

One of the substantials obstacles for low-income countries is difficulties in affording the fees for scientific publications. To reduce this obstacle, the Health InterNetwork for Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) was set up by the World Health Organization (WHO). The aim was to provide that knowledge was available for poor countries that could not afford to pay the fees. This initiative is now struggling with this aim, as several publishers have opposed this work. Kenya and Bangladesh are among the countries which are hit by this challenge.

Fortunately, there are alternatives which can ensure that those who need the knowledge the most will receive it. The best strategy is Open Access publishing of scientific work which will ensure that everyone have free and open access to the scientific knowledge. To finance the costs related to providing high-quality journals, some have to pay. With Open Access publishing this is often done through a fee when publishing. This is a better strategy than directing the costs to health providers and health workers with insufficient budgets even for essential treatment, while the researchers on the other hand have funding to conduct studies and are better adapted to take such a cost.

It is still important to recognize that till now, it has been the choice of the researchers to choose where they try to publish their results. There are a large number of both Open Access and limited-access journals, and if the researchers do not make a conscious choice the consequence can easily be that those most in need of the knowledge will never receive it. The National Institutes of Health now requires that their the projects they fund make knowledge publicly available not later than one year after publication. This demand has boosted the use of Open Access publishing further, and more funders should put similar requirements on research projects. Knowledge should be a public property.

To ensure that knowledge is a public property, there are also other related and essential strategies to ensure the knowledge is available for everyone. Creative Commons is a license that can be used to ensure that knowledge and innovations are made freely available while Open Source is a good strategy for programming. Wikipedia, PLoS, BMC (biomedcentral) are all good examples on this, not to forget the gold mine of programs among the Linux operative systems, as for example Ubuntu.

When submitting your next paper, why choose a limited-access journal that will will not reach those in need while there are better alternatives as the PLoS, BMC (biomedcentral) journals?

References:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/sarah-boseley-global-health/2011/jan/18/medicine-doctors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_access_%28publishing%29

http://publicaccess.nih.gov/policy.htm

http://www.biomedcentral.com/

http://www.plos.org/

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