Measuring the impact of access to published medical research in the developing world

GEDYE, Richard (2015) Measuring the impact of access to published medical research in the developing world. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 88 - Library Theory and Research with Statistics and Evaluation.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1242
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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

Measuring the impact of access to published medical research in the developing world

Research4Life is a public-private initiative in which a partnership of UN entities, scientific publishers, university libraries, and technical partners have come together with the aim of reducing the knowledge gap between developed and less developed countries by providing the latter with affordable access to critical scientific research from over 48,000 books and journals. Research4Life’s oldest programme, HINARI, which focuses on bringing peer-reviewed biomedical research to both academic researchers and practising physicians, was launched in 2001 and in recent years has begun to consider ways in which it can assess the practical impact it has had on its intended beneficiaries. In 2011, Research4Life launched a user experience competition, asking users to share how HINARI, and the other Research4Life programmes in the fields of agriculture and the environment, had improved their work, life and community. A subsequent booklet of case studies celebrated the stories behind some of these competition entries, providing insights into how access to the results of peer-reviewed research from Research4Life publisher partners was benefiting the health, well-being, and economic and social development of communities in the developing world, as well as contributing to greater environmental health and awareness. In the wake of the enthusiastic reception given to this booklet, Research4Life commissioned external consultant Information Power to develop a broader view of HINARI’s impact, via the medium of an extensive online survey of known and potential users of the service. The request to complete the survey was distributed by a number of HINARI publisher partners to relevant authors, Table of Contents alert subscribers, and others in the more than 100 HINARI eligible countries, areas, and territories in the developing world. In addition the survey was circulated to the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) with a request to forward it to their library users. In total, invitations to participate in the survey were sent to over 60,000 individuals. This paper explains why Research4Life decided to undertake this project, outlines some of the issues addressed in developing an effective survey, and looks at what the results of the survey reveal about HINARI’s users, how the service is used, and the positive impacts that access to the research material has had. It reveals how the results of the survey suggest a number of avenues for further research and also reports on some of the constraints experienced by HINARI’s developing world users that prevent optimal use of the material made available. These constraints fall into a number of categories – those which could be resolved by local librarians, those which could be addressed by Research4Life partner publishers, those which could be addressed by Research4Life itself, and those which can only be addressed with the deployment of significantly greater resources than are available to any of the stakeholders in the current information distribution ecology.

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