Guest Blog – EquityEdit: Expanding Access to Biomedical Innovations

This guest blog entry is from Duncan Smith-Rohrberg Maru, an
MD/PhD student at the Yale University School of
Medicine. Duncan describes
the recently launched non-profit organization, EquityEdit, which aims to expand
access to the research literature for authors whose first language is not
English, whilst also contributing funding to health initiatives in developing
countries.

EquityEdit
is a new non-profit organization that capitalizes on the expanding market for
high-quality technical editing to generate sustainable funding for innovations
in global public health. In partnership with for-profit biomedical editing
companies, we recruit and train scientists from diverse backgrounds to edit
manuscripts written by researchers for whom English is a second language.  A
portion of the compensation they earn is then donated to small, innovative,
pro-poor global health organizations as a sustainable source of long-term
financing. Additionally, in exchange for the value-added EquityEdit provides to
for-profit partners in terms of public relations, personnel management,
marketing, and technical innovations, its for-profit partners provide an
additional donation as a percentage of the revenue from each order.  Through
this means, EquityEdit improves access to biomedical innovations on two fronts:
on the one hand by improving communication among scientists from
non-English-speaking countries and on the other by delivering sustainable and
flexible financing to healthcare organizations delivering medical and public
health interventions to the global poor.

The
globalization of science through a primarily English-language medium has left
scientists from non-English-speaking countries at a distinct disadvantage in
communicating their research. Despite the expansion of scientific editing
companies, the demand for editing services outstrips the supply. A major issue
faced by editing companies is finding talented, reliable editors with sufficient
biomedical and scientific backgrounds to provide services to their clients. At
the same time, scientists desire to see the fruits of their research borne in
resource-poor countries.  While scientists tend to be knowledgeable about and
sympathetic to global health issues, they lack avenues to allow them to make a
real contribution to global public health.  The EquityEdit model provides them
the opportunity to apply their highly valued scientific expertise to a task that
provides a specific monetary value—on the order of $40-$100 per hour—to their
services, while contributing the remaining editing profits to a medical relief
organization.

Furthermore,
the EquityEdit mechanism provides sustainable, long-term financing to innovative
global public health organizations.  While numerous mechanisms do exist for
global health financing, few opportunities are available for small, innovative
enterprises to develop novel solutions to pressing public health problems. 
EquityEdit chooses beneficiaries with transparent and open practices so that
editors can monitor the way in which the donations they generate are used to
create social change.   

To
maximize revenue to participating non-profit beneficiaries, the management team
of EquityEdit remains all-volunteer.  Since these volunteers are unpaid, other
incentives exist to create a sustainable management structure.  The primary
incentive is their desire to fundraise for the nonprofit beneficiary.  To
facilitate this, a major criteria for an EquityEdit beneficiary (in addition to
being small, innovative, pro-poor) is that they have at least one executive or
board member who is qualified and interested in improving EquityEdit.  This is a
key aspect of developing a sustainable model that doesn’t require a paid
executive director, since the beneficiary executive would be significantly
invested in the financial success of EquityEdit.  Once a non-profit joins, the
goal would be to quickly expand to and sustain annual revenue streams of
$100,000 for the non-profit.  This revenue would continue for at least five
years, during which time the point-person at the non-profit would be expected to
engage in improving EquityEdit.

In addition to recruiting and
training a team of experienced editors, EquityEdit provides for profit partners
with value-added in marketing and in IT innovations that produce greater
efficiencies.  EquityEdit harnesses the efficiency of the market, the reach of
the internet, and the power of self-interested goodwill.  Importantly,
EquityEdit reduces costs, increases exposure, and offers tax incentives to
for-profit editing businesses, which makes engaging in this charitable activity
good for their bottom line.  The exact proportion of funds distributed to the
editing company, editor, and non-profit beneficiary is set by a contractual
arrangement between the company and editor.

There are several present opportunities to get involved with
or contribute to EquityEdit. 

Corporate Partnerships

If you work for a corporation that might benefit from a
collaboration with EquityEdit, please contact editor(AT)equityedit(DOT)org. 

Volunteer Leadership Positions

To further improve our model, we are looking for individuals
with backgrounds in marketing, social enterprise, biomedicine, technical
editing, and public health.  Please contact editor(AT)equityedit(DOT)org if
interested in joining our team, providing a one-paragraph cover email detailing
your relevant background and interests in EquityEdit. 

Paid Editors

If you are interested in becoming a paid editor, please apply
at http://www.equityedit.org/apply.html.  Note that you must have
significant first-author publication experience to be considered as an editor. 
We are also looking for scientists who are conversant in Japanese who can act as
translators. Please apply through the same applicant portal.

Duncan Smith-Rohrberg Maru
Co-founder, EquityEdit

View the latest posts on the BioMed Central blog homepage

Comments