Open access to UK government's development research


A new policy was announced last week by the Department for International Development (DFID), pledging that all of the research it funds will be made freely available online, through open access. A step they believe will increase the uptake and use of that research, with the aim of advancing science and health in the Developing World.

Open access refers to the immediate, irrevocable and free access to online scientific and scholarly material. “Even the most groundbreaking research is no use to anyone if it sits on a shelf gathering dust” says Andrew Mitchell, International Development Secretary. “What’s just as important, though, is ensuring that these findings get into the hands of those in the Developing World who stand to gain the most from putting them into practical use.”

The policy goes further than most by recommending steps to help people in developing countries find, view and download material. Researchers are asked to put their findings online in a way that is quick and easy to download for those who have limited internet connectivity and are encouraged to translate key findings into  local languages. It aims to increase the flow of information to scientists, research bodies, charities and humanitarian organisations, so they can implement findings that will have an immediate effect on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Previous DFID-funded research breakthroughs include; new drugs for malaria and sleeping sickness, better diagnostic tests for tuberculosis, vaccines for cattle diseases in Africa, flood-resistant ‘scuba’ rice and drought resistant crops to lessen the life-threatening impact of climate change.

BioMed Central continues its quest to support open access in the Developing World by providing quality open access publications, such as Malaria Journal, and through their annual Open Access Africa conference, which is now in its third year. The event provides a unique chance for researchers, institutions and funders such as DFID, to come together to discuss open access in an African context.

Delegates at Open Access Africa 2011, Kwame Nkrumah
University of Science and Technology (KNUST),Kumasi, Ghana, run by
BioMed Central.

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