Research Article: On the Path to Global Open Access: A Few More Miles to Go

Date Published: March 29, 2011

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): unknown

Abstract: The PLoS Medicine editors reflect on the recent debate about
access to medical journals via HINARI, and what now needs to be done to increase
open access in the developing world.

Partial Text: It has been a couple of months now since the withdrawal of access via HINARI to
medical journals in Bangladesh by several publishers caused an upset in the medical
publishing world [1]. HINARI (Health Internetwork Access to Research
Initiative) is a WHO-supported program [2] that partners with
subscription-based publishers to allow researchers in the world’s poorest
countries to access some of their journals under certain conditions (for example,
researchers have to access the journal in defined institutions). After much lobbying
from researchers, editors, and others following the withdrawal, HINARI access has
been—for the time being at least—reinstated, though with a substantial
lack of clarity over the longer term plans of a number of the publishers [3]. Although
traumatic for the researchers who lost access, the incident has triggered a useful
debate on the value of open access (OA; immediate, permanent free access and
permanently guaranteed unrestricted reuse, as enshrined in a Creative Commons
license [4] and as
practiced by publishers such as PLoS) versus free access with no legal rights
attached. It is hard to think of a better example to demonstrate the precariousness
of this latter type of free access, which can mean that access may be withdrawn for
no reason.



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