Coronaviru (765) Research Consulting completes landscape analysis for Research4Life (2) Impact of COVID-19 on scholarly communication

20 June, 2020

I was interested to read the addendum to Research Consulting's report on Research4Life/Hinari, which looks at the impact of COVID-19 on research and scholarly publishing.

Below are extracts and a comment from me. The full text is here:

1. 'Looking beyond these emergency measures, it appears all but inevitable that COVID-19 will lead to:

• strengthened demands from policymakers, funders and the general public for open access to scientific publications and data;

• increased investment by governments in scientific research, information and advice;


• reinforcement of the links between science and policy, in response to societal needs.'

2. 'Mailing lists in the scholarly communications community are already raising concerns of an existential threat to mission-driven and not-for-profit publishers, amidst fears of ever greater market consolidation and loss of bibliodiversity...'

3. 'More concerningly for Research4Life, philanthropic donations and activity by both publishers and libraries may provide [sic] difficult to sustain in a period of increased budgetary constraints.'

COMMENT (NPW): I am hope that the predictions in 1. will prevail. The Addendum says nothing about coronavirus misinformation, but this will (or should) have a profound impact on public awareness of the value of access to reliable health information. For us on HIFA, we have a collective responsibility to ensure this opportunity is not lost. Those of us who are optimistic see COVID-19 as a turning point.

We might also be sanguine about 2. and 3. Yes, there will be less money available for health information initiatives such as Hinari (and HIFA), as there will for everything. But we should remember that the costs of Hinari (and HIFA) are minuscule compared with the larger publishing industry. (HIFA is grateful for financial support from publishers, including current support from The Lancet and Elsevier.) I am hopeful the value of Research4Life and HIFA will, if anything, be increasingly recognised and supported, both by publishers and/or other funders. Lack of access to reliable healthcare information remains a major cause of human suffering and death and is far too important to ignore. What do you think?

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: