Bringing open access to Africa: BioMed Central announces far-reaching program

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Currently only 0.7% of all research published comes from sub-Saharan Africa, yet African researchers have a key role to play in finding solutions to the many challenges faced by African countries. Open access publisher BioMed Central is working to increase the visibility of scientific research from Africa with a set of initiatives designed to encourage African researchers to publish their work in open access journals.

The publisher announced that the 2nd Open Access Africa conference will take place from 25 -26 October 2011 at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The free conference, organized in partnership with Computer Aid International, will provide a focal point to bring researchers, librarians and funders together to examine the opportunities and challenges for open access publishing in an African context.

Alongside the announcement of Open Access Africa 2011, BioMed Central is also launching a new free membership scheme for qualifying universities and research institutions in low-income countries. Foundation Membership will enable institutions to demonstrate their support for open access publishing and offers a range of benefits which will enhance the visibility of the institution’s research output. Institutions are eligible to become Foundation Members if they are located in a country covered by BioMed Central’s Open Access Waiver Fund , have an official institutional policy in support of open access, and have published at least five papers in BioMed Central open access journals within the last three years. In addition to the new Foundation Membership program, BioMed Central is also introducing a new cost-effective open access publishing and institutional repository solution targeted at low-income countries, the ‘Open Access Package’. The Open Access Package provides a comprehensive and affordable open access solution that offers Foundation members the tools to support both open access publishing and self-archiving of scientific articles within their libraries.

Speaking of the announcement of the initiative, Prof Kisali Pallangyo, Vice Chancellor of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), said, “the Government pledged support to innovation and science in the national budget last year and internet broadband was rolled out nationwide, an opportunity to enhance communication and access to research results, it is a great time for science in Tanzania. Open Access Africa is another step in the right direction for us and we are very pleased to be hosting the event.“

Matthew Cockerill, Managing Director of BioMed Central, said, “Following the success of last year’s inaugural Open Access Africa conference in Kenya, we are looking forward to an even bigger and better event in 2011. Open access is helping to make African research more visible, and ensures that African researchers are connected to the global research community. Our new free Foundation Membership scheme will help research institutions in Africa make the most of this opportunity.”