Scholarly Kitchen: Towards Global Equity for Open Access Books

17 June, 2023

Interesting article on the Scholarly Kitchen platform, by Niels Stern and colleagues at the Directory of Open Access Books. Comment from me below. Read online:

'This year, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, a great opportunity to reflect on how far we have come with open infrastructures for the distribution and discoverability of open access books (monographs, edited collections, and other long-form publications) [but] there is a lack of global representation in DOAB which is currently the most global infrastructure. DOAB is designed to serve the whole world, but in fact we are only serving a part of it, predominantly Europe and North America and increasingly also South America. That’s a challenge of global equity that we must face and tackle – while, of course, we also keep improving the infrastructure for all those already using it.'

'DOAB is growing fast, with almost 70,000 books indexed from over 600 publishers. And it keeps growing...

'With fewer than 10 people in our team, we are dependent on others to engage with us in this mission to enable equitable access to global distribution for book publishers/authors...

'To be successful, we have to improve in (at least) these three interconnected areas: (1) Quality of DOAB, (2) Community engagement, (3) Financial sustainability...'

COMMENT (NPW): The Directory of Open Access Books is here: The directory includes some medical and health titles. A question I would have is: How easy is it for users (say, for example, a nursing or medical student) to locate useful texts in the directory that specifically meet their needs? How easy is it to see the quality and likely relevance of each title? How do these titles compare with non-open-acccess medical and health titles?

Also, the Hinari/Research4Life inititative provides access to a large number of e-book titles for those in eligible institutions in LMICs. How do these resources compare with the DOAB?

And finally, as indicated by Niels Stern et al, there is a lack of open-access e-books from LMICs. What is the impact of this on users? What are the underlying causes - are they similar to the imbalance seen in journals?

I would be really interested to hear people's experience of using the DOAB.

Many thanks,


HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: