Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bioline International: Supporting Quality Open Access Publishing in the Developing World

The not-for-profit Bioline International describes itself as "a pioneer in the provision of open access to peer reviewed bioscience journals published in developing countries". Bioline International assists publishers in developing countries with establishing a high-quality online presence; Bioline currently aggregates close to 60 journals, from about 15 countries around the world.

Bioline International is currently moving to a library membership model. Libraries are asked to contribute $500 per year to support this initiative. This is not much to ask; less than the cost of an average single journal subscription in most academic fields. This is a much easier way for libraries to ensure access to these journals than was possible in the days of print, where locating such journals, negotiating local currencies, and arranging for mailing made support quite challenging.

By providing an online presence and the optimal dissemination that comes with open access, Bioline International is reducing the south to north knowledge gap, and facilitating the participation of scholars in the developing world in advancing our global knowledge.

One area where the developing world may bring welcome perspective in the short term as we deal with the current economic crisis, is an increased likelihood that scholars in the developing world working on applied fields, will be looking for more cost-effective solutions. This is because Necessity is the mother of invention; when you don't have much to spend, it's easier to focus on potential solutions that don't cost very much.

Bioline International also reduces the south-to-south knowledge gap, sharing of knowledge from one developing country to another, and also providing a local venue for publishing. Such local venues are a better bet for publishing research on topics of greater interest in the developing world (such as malaria and river blindness). Creating publishing opportunities can only increase the odds that researchers will choose to focus on these topics.

This post is part of the Essential Efficiencies series.

It is good to see that Canadian libraries are well represented among the early sponsors and members of Bioline International!