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Open Access Week: Policies and practices that can help enable equitable access to open research

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By AuthorAID Team | Oct. 26, 2018  |

This week is Open Access Week, an international week for celebrating and reflecting on successes and challenges with open access. For some years, INASP has worked with partners to support their activities to promote access in a way that is appropriate to their countries and research contexts. This year we have asked some of the people we work with to share their reflections on enabling equitable participation in open research.

In this post, Dr Brenda Asiimwe Kateera shares her thoughts on what steps can help achieve equitable access to open research.

Several advances have been made in promoting open research. However, a lot more needs to be done in ensuring equitable access to open research

  1. Equitable access to resources remains a big challenge in open research. Many institutions in the global south lack domestic funding and yet access to international funders remain privy to a few elite institutions who already have a track record. This inequitable access continues to drive the gap between institutions and between countries. Traditionally, females are also left behind especially in LMICs. Clear policies and procedures need to be strengthened and implemented to ensure that there is inclusiveness regardless of social economic status, location, gender etc
  2. There needs to be active engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders including beneficiaries, end users, genders, LMIC.
  3. Several researchers still have misconceptions and concerns about open access such as fear of loss of intellectual property or someone else publishing their data before they have had a chance to. Efforts need to be made to build and strengthen capacity about open research including how to access and make use of shared datasets, strengthen infrastructure and technological capacity as well as share models for good sharing practices.
  4. Funders need to include clear requirements for equity and inclusiveness so as to promote equitable access. Researchers as well who are exceptionally promoting equity should be given incentives and rewards.
  5. Regarding open publishing, research published in local or regional journals is often regarded as lower quality than research published in international journals due to use of impact factor as a measure of research quality. We need to advocate for other metrics to be used such as uptake of findings to inform local policy and programme decision making.

Dr Brenda Asiimwe Kateera is medical doctor and epidemiologist who is Country Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation Rwanda. 

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