At The Lancet, we believe that lack of access to knowledge is one of the main limitations to human development. Any country designated "low income" justifies a clear and unambiguous editorial commitment to full and free access to medical research. We strive to ensure that our editorial output and policies on access are geared to those readers who need that research the most. But what does that commitment mean in practice? This article outlines some of the ways we work towards universal research access in the world's most resource-poor countries.
Collaborating with Research4Life
As a founding partner, Elsevier continues to extend its content contribution to Research4Life through the HINARI, AGORA, OARE and ARDI programs. This aligns with The Lancet's conviction that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and that care should be delivered in ways that are equitable and just. We work with the Health Inter Network Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) to ensure that all content published in The Lancet and its specialty publications are free or very low-cost online to all readers in all HINARI-eligible countries. We also use Geo-IP (the recognition of regionally-based IP addresses) on TheLancet.com to provide free online access to readers residing in developing countries, as defined by the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index.
Spreading the word of HINARI
As a Research4Life partner, it is important that we take advantage of our considerable marketing reach to raise awareness of the HINARI program and our participation in it. We recently launched an online campaign aimed at boosting awareness of The Lancet's HINARI involvement, as well as the ongoing work of Research4Life itself. We now host a dedicated landing page on TheLancet.com, with links to recent Research4Life news stories and detailed information about access eligibility. Traffic is driven to the portal through a range of digital media, including SEO, geo-targeted PPC and social media.
Expanding our global health work with an emphasis on accessibility
We hope that The Lancet is recognized as fully committed to the values underpinning global health, as well as to global health research. Each year, we publish many global health series on a wide range of topics– series dedicated to specific global health priorities, country health system evaluations, Lancet Commissions, theme issues, and special projects. Universal accessibility to knowledge is especially important in the case of global health research because of the relevance of that research to those working in low- and middle-income countries. On principle, we therefore make all global health series papers freely available to download on TheLancet.com.
The launch of our new open access title, The Lancet Global Health, is a natural extension of that principle. Because the journal publishes papers that are most relevant to readers in low and middle income countries, we have specifically chosen an open access model to ensure full and free access to all content published in the journal, regardless of the reader's location. There are no subscription or registration requirements.
Zoë Mullan, Editor of The Lancet Global Health, said this represents "a fantastic opportunity to expand The Lancet's capacity to publish high-quality research with a direct relevance to practitioners and communities in low- and middle-income countries."
The journal is financed by a publication fee levied on the funders of accepted research papers, but if the funders are based in low-income countries, the fee is waived. As with content published elsewhere on TheLancet.com, low-income countries are defined as those in group A or B by HINARI or in a country with a low human development index.[divider]
About The Lancet
When English surgeon and social reformer Thomas Wakley founded The Lancet in 1823, he announced, "A lancet can be an arched window to let in the light or it can be a sharp surgical instrument to cut out the dross and I intend to use it in both senses." This philosophy remains at the heart of the journal today.
Through the 19th and 20th centuries, The Lancet pursued its mission to grow the evidence base the world's medical community requires to combat the global burden of disease. Entering the 21st century, The Lancet has launched specialty journals in the fields of oncology, neurology, infectious diseases and, in 2013, respiratory medicine, global health, and diabetes and endocrinology (in September).
As an independent, authoritative voice in global medicine, The Lancet publishes medical news, original research, and reviews on all aspects of clinical medicine and global Health. TheLancet.com website publishes important journal content online ahead of print publication.
The Lancet became part of Elsevier in 1991.
Research4Life is a public-private partnership of over 200 academic publishers, four UN agencies, Yale and Cornell Universitie and the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM). With the support of technology partner Microsoft, the program is providing free or low-cost online access to nearly 30,000 peer-reviewed journals, books and databases to over 6,000 institutions in more than 100 developing countries and territories.
Researchers in participating institutions have access to a similar level of information as their peers in developed countries, enabling them to contribute to the evolving body of global research. The goal is to help attain six of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals by 2015, reducing the scientific knowledge gap between industrialized countries and the developing world.[divider]
Simon Anderson is Digital Marketing Manager for The Lancet and its specialty titles. He is based in London.