New competition encourages advocacy for better research in developing countries

INASP/Research4Life contest highlights critical role of doctors, researchers and librarians in advocating for an evidence-based policy


Over the last two decades, Research4Life, a free and low-cost access program in developing countries, and INASP, an international research capacity building charity, have worked with a wide array of partners and funders to close the information gap between developed and developing countries by providing access to academic, scientific and professional peer-reviewed content online.

Today, 106 countries in the developing world can access up to 69,000 journals, books and databases for free or at a very low cost thanks to the Research4Life initiative. However, more needs to be done. “It is today more than ever that access can only be truly sustainable if leaders ‘upstream’ of doctors, researchers and librarians are equally supportive of this need,” said Richard Gedye, Chair of the Executive Council for Research4Life and Director of Program outreach at the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers.

Grace Ajuwon, Senior Librarian of Reference and Information Services at the E Latunde Odeku Medical Library, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.To highlight the critical role that doctors, researchers, librarians and policymakers play in advocating their leaders to support research in their institutions and countries, Research4Life joined with INASP to launch an advocacy competition. The aim of the contest is to find case studies that show how users have overcome hurdles to boost critical leadership support for the information and infrastructural resources needed to improve evidence based health care, agriculture and environmental policies as well as basic research in their countries.

A good example of advocacy leadership is the story of Grace Ajuwon, one of the first librarians to be trained to use Hinari, Research4Life’s flagship biomedical database. Over a decade ago, Grace, a senior librarian at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, used that training to jumpstart her own research into health information. A year later, in 2003, she published a peer-reviewed paper in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, concluding that clinical and nursing students were neglecting electronic resources. Grace successfully advocated for the inclusion of computer education in medical and nursing curricula, ensuring that computer laboratories were installed and went on train thousands of medical and research staff across her own and other African institutions in effectively using scientific resource.

How to apply

Information and submission forms:

Deadline: September 15, 2016

Contest questions

How have you successfully lobbied your institutional administrators or government policymakers:

  • To make increased funding available for the conducting of research?
  • To make funding available for acquiring access to critical journals, books, or databases?
  • To make funding available to improve the quality and quantity of the technological infrastructure and equipment provision in your institution?

How have you successfully advocated for a more evidence based local or national government policy (for example in health provision, agricultural practice or environmental or economic policy) based on external research to which you have had access or research, which you yourself have carried out?

In your answers, please describe how you went about your successful lobbying or advocacy, any evidence which you marshalled to support your case, any hurdles or resistance you encountered along the way and how you overcame it, and finally give us details of what your lobbying or advocacy achieved and the befits which it delivered.


Written by

Ylann Schemm

Written by

Ylann Schemm

As Director of the Elsevier Foundation, Ylann Schemm drives technology-enabled partnerships to advance diversity in science, build research capacity and support global health around the world. She has been an integral part of the Foundation’s growth since joining as a Program Officer in 2008. In addition, Ylann currently serves as Elsevier’s Director of External Partnerships, building on 15 years in corporate relations and responsibility roles and focusing on key technology, gender and sustainability collaborations.


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