Last week, the Wiley Exchanges blog posted two interviews with INASP’s Executive Director Sue Corbett. We share those interviews in this post and the previous one.
(The Wiley Exchanges version of part 2 is here).
Here we continue our interview with Sue Corbett, Executive Director of INASP. In part I yesterday, we learned how and why INASP is working to improve accessibility to research in the developing world. More below on the success of the program and how you may be able to help.
Q. Can you share a success story or two about the outcomes of INASP initiatives?
A. An exciting new venture that illustrates some of the ways that publishers can be involved is a collaborative project that we are doing with Elsevier, VSO and a local partner COSTECH. The aim of this project is to train local publishers in Tanzania to strengthen local academic publishing across Tanzania and it grew out of work done by an employee of Brill while on a VSO placement in the country. Now Elsevier editors and publishers are also involved in training and sharing their own approaches with those on Tanzanian journals. See this recent news story for more information.
There are many exciting developments with our longer-term projects too. I was recently in Bangladesh (where I saw all the rickshaws that I mentioned in the first part of this interview) speaking about the BanglaJOL platform. This provides a route to 129 journals and more than 13,000 articles from Bangladesh, and helps to increase the visibility of the very valuable research that is going on in the country. I was able to share the impressive traffic figures for the platform – nearly one million article views each quarter; my Bangladeshi audience gave the numbers a round of applause.
Another example is INASP’s recent pilot project in Sierra Leone, in collaboration with Research4Life, which aimed to increase awareness of the online research literature available in the country and enable researchers to make better use of it in their work. The pilot brought together different people involved in different aspects of research access and communication to identify the needs and opportunities within universities. It involved training librarians and IT staff in how to manage access to online literature, training researchers in search skills, and offering subsequent support in research writing. There was real enthusiasm for this approach and for INASP’s role is as a catalyst and convener.
Online training for researchers, which is one component of our AuthorAID project and part of the Sierra Leone pilot, enables people to learn the skills they need at their own pace. This process can continue to happen even when travel or online access is restricted, a situation that, sadly, people in Sierra Leone know all too well with the current Ebola outbreak.
Q. What is AuthorAID?
A. Great research can – and does – go on everywhere in the world. Too often, however, valuable research in the developing world remains unpublished because researchers do not have good writing skills or the mentoring and support that researchers in the developed worldroutinely get from their supervisor and peers.
AuthorAID is a global online community (9000 members and growing) of researchers needing and offering support. We provide online and face-to-face training in research writing skills; online one on one mentoring; an active discussion list; an online library with a wide range of resources on writing and publishing in seven languages; and small grants for travelling to conferences and running writing workshops.
Q. How can researchers, academics and others from the developed world get involved with AuthorAID?
A. Currently, we have over 5000 researchers waiting to connect with someone who can offer them short- or long-term mentoring support. If you are a published author, we would welcome you as a mentor and you can sign up right now at www.authoraid.info.
We are also very excited to be working with Wiley to develop a new way to connect society members who are interested in offering their skills with researchers in their subject areas. More details will follow in a future Wiley Exchanges blog post.