March 13, 2015

Opinion

Research access initiatives to support think tanks’ research

[Editor’s note: This post was written by Jon Harle, Senior Programme Manager, Research Access and Availability, at INASP] 

Think tankers probably have quite different information needs to academics or research scientists- perhaps drawing more on policy reports and evaluations than they do journal articles. Nevertheless, there are likely to be instances where valuable information – perhaps an assessment of the effectiveness of particular policies in different countries, or important research in agriculture or climate or social security – is found within a journal, and as a result, behind a paywall.

The good news is that think tanks in developing countries have the potential to access much more of this literature – at more affordable rates – than many probably realise.

INASP negotiates with over 50 academic publishers for free or discounted access to substantial collections of journals. In total something like 65,000 journals are available, and the licensing terms mean that this access can, in most cases, be extended to any non-profit making research institute or local NGO in the country (once the subscription is paid where this applies). This includes the collections of well-known publishers such as Wiley, Springer and Taylor and Francis, as well as smaller, specialist publishers such as Policy Press. Currently around 1,700 institutions access journals via INASP this way.

To find out what is potentially available to institutions in your country, follow the links from INASP’s country pages to ‘research literature’. The next step would be to contact the consortium in your country and see if there are opportunities to join.

In addition to INASP’s scheme, the Research4Life initiative provides access to around 45,000 journals in subjects related to health, agriculture and environment. And it is worth exploring these carefully even if these are not your focus areas – there are often other economics or social-policy titles available through these collections.

In recent years, INASP has begun to work more concertedly with national purchasing consortia, groups of institutions that come together to pool funding and purchase collectively, making use of these national licences to extend access across a network of libraries. Typically these consortia are made up of libraries of universities, colleges, scientific research institutes, or government agencies, but there is often provision for other research organisations to join. The journal collections they subscribe to are dependent on how much money they can raise locally so additional members, able to contribute to the central pot are often welcomed.

A quick email to some of our partners revealed that a few think tanks are currently involved. In Uganda, the Makerere Institute of Social Research accesses journals through its parent university. In Ghana, there are no such members at present, but they are able to join the consortium, and at a reduced rate.

I would be interested to know how many think tankers reading this post do need access to journals, but struggle to get that access. If you can’t find your local consortium get in touch we may be able to help make the links.

Read more from: Jon Harle

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