Promoting and reporting research with limited resources

Guest posts

Category: Research news

30 September 2015

Carrying on from our recent post about predatory Open Access publishers, the following highlights are taken from an article written by ARU's very own Chesmal Siriwardhana.

This article was (funnily enough) published open access by non-predatory Libertas Academica in August 2015.

As difficult as it is for UK academics to avoid publishing pitfalls, for researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LAMIC), this challenge is compounded by a lack of resources. In his recent article, Chesmal Siriwardhana argues the cyclical importance of LAMIC research promotion on development:

For resource-poor LAMIC, social, educational, technological, and economic domain development is a top priority in order to overcome problems related to poverty, food insecurity, overcrowding, sanitation, noncommunicable/communicable disease (eg, pandemic levels of HIV and TB in some LAMIC), war, and climate change. In turn, social, educational, technological, and economic development fundamentally depends on the advancement of science through research in these settings and benefits from having a tightly interwoven network of actors engaged in promoting and using scientific research to further the expansion of these domains.

He further notes that although emerging trends such as Open-Access (OA) and online publishing have significantly benefited LAMIC researchers, reporting from resource-poor settings is facing a mixture of old and new barriers. These include language, quality, quantity, standards, and editorial bias, but surprisingly, extend to OA and online publishing as well.

Most OA journals require a publication fee, often exceeding the monthly salary of a LAMIC researcher or other available resources. Then there's those predatory publishers again - "These OA journals mostly originate from South Asia and Africa, and lure unsuspecting mainly early career researchers from LAMIC to submit articles with false promises of fast peer review and low OA fees...damaging research promotion and reporting from resource-poor settings at an alarming pace." Luckily there are some ways to avoid this, including consulting The Directory of Open Access Journals and Jocalyn Clark's "five-point plan on how to avoid predatory journals", but awareness of these guides is not very high.

So what can be done about these challenges? Siriwardhana's article is most definitely worth a full read, but below are some of his suggestions for potential steps toward improvement.

  • Mainstream news media in the global north should create targeted opportunities/spaces to allow scientists from LAMIC to write/talk about their research.
  • Academic journals (online/print) can create separate sections where LAMIC researchers are provided the chance/space to communicate about their research in less formal non-academic article formats (ie blogs).
  • LAMIC researchers should be provided with more guidance on OA publishing, especially how to avoid predatory journals.
  • Different authorship levels can be defined, allowing for recognition of often-unsung efforts of junior LAMIC researchers.

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