Open access in Ghana – a medical student perspective

Sadat Bogobire
Sadat Bogobire

Sadat Bogobire is Clinical Year 2 at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, part of University of Development Studies in Ghana. He’s also currently a SCOMER representative for the Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations. Here he tells us about his views on open access.

How did you find out about open access?

I first heard about open access (OA) from a presentation made at the African Regional Meeting in a SCORE/SCOPE session in 2012. This seemed like a very laudable idea to me. My school had a practical program that took place ‘in the field’ and I thought being able to have instant access to research findings in this sort of situation would be ideal. I had already thought that this would be helpful, so discovering that OA was available was great.

Do you think there’s much awareness of it amongst students?

The level of awareness among students is limited to some who are passionate about research, as well as others who are more involved in networking and international conferences. Among the rest, a few might have heard of open access, but don’t know much about it and haven’t taken the time to find out.

What impact would it have on you if subscriptions you currently use to access research became unavailable to you?

This would cause a real scarcity of information in many areas and topics that students need to access. The research culture among African students is already very challenging and this would make it more difficult.

What benefits do you think there are to publishing open access?

By having research that is accessible to all – for example in an institutional repository – we can improve the quality of work and publications by students over time. This is because the research will be available as a guide for others. It would be really important to ensure the quality of the research though. Publishers must uphold the quality of the research which is made open access.

And do you think there are any barriers?

Awareness needs to be raised to encourage people to publish open access. Identifying students who can champion it with their student associations and among their peers would help. There would also need to be logistical and financial support for OA promotional activities, and the support of the schools would also be needed, as they would need to allow time for students to get involved with such projects.

What do you think publishers (and others) should be doing to raise awareness of open access?

There should be more training online about open access. There could also be support for student OA advocates who could help to educate fellow students about open access. And liaising with faculty heads and lecturers to get their support for open access would also help.

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