Once upon a time, the letter was the fastest and widely accessible mode of communicating information for the majority of the world. And then the internet came and changed (and is still changing) communication for EVERYONE.
The internet is certainly changing scientific publishing. In 1665, the first scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, was published and was available in print to the elite few. Since then many more scientific journals have come into existence and their content made available to a growing audience. And yet, this audience was a small percentage of the scientific community, made up of only those that could afford subscriptions to these journals. The internet made subscriptions a little more affordable, because online access removed the need for print and distribution. Still, there was a lot of people that these journals would never reach. Then came open access journals – making it free for anyone and everyone to access scientific literature.
But what is the use of having a global platform right there waiting for you, if you do not make the best use of it?
And from a practical perspective, how would you do that? Once you have your research results, it is not simply a case of fitting them into tables and figures and sending them off to a journal for peer-review. You need to: choose the right journal to submit to, explain your methods and findings, discuss your work in the context of past work and explain the potential future implications… and above all, you need to do this in a language that is understandable to people from many different backgrounds.
This can be daunting, especially to inexperienced researchers and to those whose first language is not English – the internationally accepted language of science. Fortunately, there is plenty of advice out there. Many publishers provide resources for authors, such as BioMed Central’s Author Academy. And author workshops are often held at conferences, these are usually free, so look out for these.
Malaria Journal was a sponsor of the recent Malaria Workshop at the Ifakara Institute, Tanzania. The Workshop was a six week-long programme for African malaria researchers, and as part of the programme Marcel Hommel, the Editor-in-Chief of Malaria Journal, ran a week-long publishing course. Malaria Journal is definitely a global journal with authors and readers from all corners of the world. To reduce publishing barriers and assist authors, Malaria Journal provides copy editing for accepted manuscripts.
Open access journals have made it possible to reach everyone in the world directly or indirectly. It is not called the ‘world wide’ web for nothing! In these times, when the world is getting smaller (figuratively speaking) global impact is no longer the exclusive privilege of scientists from certain nations or regions. We all have the right, and now the opportunity, to make a mark on the world.