The Global Open Access Portal: A snapshot of open access progress worldwide

The Global Open Access Portal (GOAP), recently launched by UNESCO,
offers a current snapshot of the status of open access to scientific
information around the world. It is designed to provide the necessary
information for policy-makers to learn about the global open access environment
and to view their country’s status to understand where and why open access has
been most successful. For scientists and medical researchers in low income
countries, restricted access to research can be a major impediment to their
work, and can mean the difference between life and death. Enabling researchers
to access and publish their work without 
barriers is a major step towards helping scientists in developing
countries to tackle the problems outlined in the millennium development goals,
of hunger, health and poverty. The open
access movement is now attracting the global recognition it deserves and many
organizations are working together to find ways to make open access a reality
across the globe.
Open Access Africa, for example, is a collection of initiatives, led by BioMed Central, which are
designed to increase the output and visibility of scientific research published
by African research institutes. The initiatives include a commitment to allow
researchers from low income countries to publish their research in open access
journals without
incurring any charges
, a Membership
for institutions in those countries to help members to promote open
access within their institutions, and an annual Open
Access Africa conference
. However, our initiative is only one of numerous
initiatives run by various organizations globally.

In order to alert interested
parties to these schemes and to help make open access a reality, excellent
up-to-date information is needed. GOAP has now joined initiatives such as the OSI-supported
Open Access Scholarly Information
(OASIS), led by foremost open access experts Dr Alma Swan and
Professor Leslie Chan, and Peter Suber’s authoritative monthly report
on the status of OA. It offers researchers a complete overview of the services
and support available to them both locally and internationally. The portal will
allow researchers to develop and sustain their open access policies, which will improve access to research and lead to more effective research. Detailed,
region-specific information will offer inspiration and help to researchers and
institutions to set up an open access journal, an institutional repository or
an open access advocacy campaign, and
will act as a reference source to show how others went about their open access
developments and with which possible partnerships. The more we can encourage
open access to research the quicker scientific, social and economic development
can progress.

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