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Date of this Version


Document Type



ICSR Perspectives.

Produced under the aegis of the STM Association and the International Study of Research.

DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3624782.


Copyright 2020, Elsevier. Open access material. CC-BY-NC-SA.



The origins of this White Paper can be traced to a discussion started in mid-2019 between a number of scholarly publishers and the Publisher Coordinator for Research4Life (a role that is supported financially by the STM Association). These interlocutors voiced concern that while the publishing and research communities in the developed world were making steady and positive progress towards universal Open Access based on a ‘pay to publish’ model, those same communities in the less developed lower and middle-income countries (often referred to as the “Global South”) were being excluded from these discussions. Following discussions at the STM Board in the summer of 2019, an informal Task Force of publishers and other interested parties was set up to explore ways in which a transition to Open Access could be made more equitable, avoiding a situation in which the new model would simply shift the barrier from one place to another. Crucially, a research communication process based on Open Access to all outputs should not be less inclusive than the current model.


Conscious efforts like these to develop the vibrancy and capability of the research community in Research4Life countries will pay dividends in the long term, ensuring that the growing cohort of scientists from LMICs are active participants in shaping the knowledge generation and transfer mechanisms that will underpin the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Such efforts must be collaborative and collective in order to achieve maximum impact at scale.