Open access (29) Myth 2: Open access journals discriminate against authors who cannot afford article processing charges (3)

5 August, 2019


Thank you for sharing the topic for week 2 in this series of discussions on Open Access (OA). It is amazing how quickly time flies, as I said before, in 2011 BioMed Central (BMC) hosted a very successful OA conference at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi Ghana (KNUST). The voices of participants were unanimous about how important Africa needs OA, how University Appointment and Promotion panels (A&P) were discriminating against, even stigmatising OA, in their procedures: claiming that OA was inferior and apportioning more scores to papers carried in traditional model publishing journals than to OA journals papers, even if the OA journals fulfilled all the accepted international parameters and indicators for quality publishing and papers. Today, eight years down the line, it may be changing but at snail speed. There are now multiple creations of predatory journals filling the gap that the huge appetite for research and knowledge has created because of the challenges caused by traditional journals. Across the globe, as researchers and authors seek to publish in proper, high impact, visible journals to disseminate their work such stigmatisation is a big handicap. Money is scarce for most of these rsearchers, authors and institutions because most of them are in the LMICs where pay is low, investment in research and education generally is very low, and poverty for even educated scientists is worsening.

Groups like HINARI and journals that offer targeted free access, some form of waivers, or reduced Author Pays Charges (APC) have helped but if you are from a country like Nigeria you face a unique challenge, as the country works itself hard to increase its GDP, the researchers/authors/institutions suddenly cannot access HINARI, and others. It appears that it has become a ‘crime’ for a country to make economic progress even if notionally because there is a lag time between the GDP going up and people seeing the money in their wallets, but then its exclusion from access OA is implemented without any lag time.

I end this posting with two quotations:

'----- in many developing countries, research has limited social and economic impact because it is not widely available and accessible. Restricted access to research is also an obstacle to the production of new knowledge. Open access (OA) provides a solution by making scientific research visible and freely available online’(; AND

"Africa cannot attain sustainable development (Goals) without access to knowledge and information sharing. Knowledge sharing is also important to higher education to facilitate national development." - Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities.’

By the way, I have wondered what happened to the BMC OA Conference because I don’t know if there has been any 2nd hosting since 2011.

Joseph Ana.


@Health Resources International (HRI) WA.

National Implementing Organisation: 12-Pillar Clinical Governance

National Implementing Organisation: PACK Nigeria Programme for PHC

Publisher: Medical and Health Journals; Books and Periodicals.

Nigeria: 8 Amaku Street, State Housing & 20 Eta Agbor Road, Calabar.

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HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers.

Email: jneana AT