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Open access (87)

8 September, 2019

Thanks, all, for the comments on open access.

Charles, your idea of discussing this offline is very welcome. I would encourage anyone else who is interested in democratizing access to information and challenging the status quo of academic journals and publishing to reach out to one of us. We can create an informal group and plan the way forward.

Regarding your comments Charles, I whole-heartedly support bringing non-academic experts/traditional knowledge keepers into the conversation. It will be an exciting challenge to discuss how this can be done. I am not sure that I agree with dismantling the executive summary and policy brief. We all have busy lives and must choose what is worth our time. This will continue to make it unlikely that people will closely read long articles. Not even researchers do that unless it is a particularly key article! They assign graduate students to do literature reviews for this very reason. We cannot expect policy makers to read everything (which is why we need subject matter experts to be more directly engaged in the legislative process, but let's discuss political revolution another day). The point is, we should balance our expectations of excellence from policy makers with an understanding of the challenges of everyday life and propose a reasonable solution for improving information digestion.

Richard, thank you for sending Harold Varmus's proposal. This is why it is so helpful to engage with communities of practice like HIFA -- this institutional knowledge does not get lost when we consider a new (or actually revamped) direction. Richard, do you know if there were any changes as a result of Harold's proposal? It seems to have created quite a stir in 1999, but there are no other sites mentioning it thereafter (that I can find, anyway).

A few of you have suggested having a conference in Africa on open access issues. I agree that more conferences should be held in Africa in general, and that conferences can be useful in accelerating conversations around a topic. However, it costs much less to join an online call than send participants to conferences, so I would caution us from jumping onto the conference bandwagon too quickly, as it creates its own inequities. I would suggest a more grassroots movement, as a kind of open access revolution necessitates quite a bit of advocacy and behind-the-scenes work before it is ready for a more organized conference.

Looking forward to continuing the conversation,


HIFA profile: Amelia Plant is the Portfolio & Impact Manager at Preston-Werner Ventures, a San Francisco-based foundation looking to create scalable impact at the intersection of climate change and social justice. Amelia specializes in sexual reproductive health and rights, focusing on family planning information & access. She is currently based in Cairo, Egypt. She is a member of the HIFA working group on Family Planning and the HIFA wg on Community Health Workers.