I wish I could attend your webinar on enabling more health researchers in Africa to effectively publish their work but, ironically, I will not be able to get to the Internet at that time . . .
Several times in the past few weeks, I have heard these regrets from researchers in Africa who I have invited to participate in a webinar called “Getting in the Access Loop”—which explores how health research from Africa can have greater representation in journals, and therefore greater influence and impact.
The irony of the RSVPs lies in the fact that the Internet is crucial for accessing research and, in turn, effectively disseminating one’s own. If you can’t access the Internet to participate in the conversation about how researchers can more effectively “participate in the conversation,” your absence speaks volumes about the degree of technological and academic isolation you may be facing.
These regrets reinforce the importance of having an on-going and open dialogue about overcoming the barriers to accessing health research. Just a couple of weeks ago, we heard that “millions of Africans are one step closer to being connected to the global Internet” through the launch of the West African Cable System. But being one step closer certainly doesn’t mean that we’re there already.
The challenges of getting in the access loop are not all technological. There are many more steps we all need to take towards the equitable distribution of knowledge and to enabling researchers in Africa to publish their work where it can have impact.
“Getting in the Access Loop” will look at how we can strengthen other kinds of pathways, not just the cable networks, to increase access to health research and publishing: pathways for building research capacity in African institutions, like THRiVE and the South-South Network; and pathways for increasing dialogue between funders, researchers, practitioners and publishers of local and international journals, like the HIFA2015 forum and Open Access Africa.
You can add your voice to the conversation by joining the webinar—and, if you can’t make it, by using this space as a forum for your questions and concerns. A full concept paper for the webinar is available on the registration page, and on the Humanitarian Centre’s website. Instructions for joining the webinar are available here. We’ll record the webinar, and it will be available to view on this blog after 1 June, so watch this space!
The webinar is being supported by PLoS, HIFA 2015 and the University of Iowa.
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Anne Radl is the Projects Manager for the Humanitarian Centre. The Humanitarian Centre is an international development network affiliated with the University of Cambridge. We bring together NGOs, researchers, entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders, students and consultants working to reduce global poverty. The Humanitarian Centre exists to facilitate collaboration between sectors and disciplines, to share best practice, and to promote dialogue and learning.