Access to Health Research: Priorities for advocacy and action

14 May, 2017

During 2015 and 2016 the HIFA Project on Access to Health Research supported a series of thematic discussions on the HIFA forums on a wide range of questions.


The project working group has now reviewed the outputs of these discussions with a view to taking forward specific issues through advocacy and action.

The following seven issues are highlighted for your comments and suggestions on ways forward:

1. "Most research is wasted because it is never published"

What percentage of research in low- and middle-income countries is never published, and why? What can be done to address this waste of resources and knowledge?

2. "The terminology around OA is highly confusing. It is time to stop calling 'free access' as a form of 'open access'"

What can be done to bring more clarity and understanding?

3. "How can we promote OA in secondary (reference and learning) publishing?"

Examples are Wikipedia and Open Educational Licensing. How can such models be further supported in ways that will better meet the healthcare information needs of health professionals, policymakers and the general public?

4. "What more can be done to address predatory journals?"

We need to promote a positive approach through awareness of initiatives like Think-Check-Submit and the Directory of Open Access Journals. Blacklisting is a flawed approach, although the recent closure of Beall's list makes researchers particularly vulnerable in the short term.

5. "What more can be done to support African Index Medicus and indexing of other journals that are excluded by Medline?"

There are signs that these regional indexes are not adequately supported. What can be done to better support thes initiatives?

6. "How to support journal publishing in LMICs?"

HIFA members note and celebrate the growing number of African medical journals that are being published with an open-access model. But many other journals are struggling. How can we learn from these successes to ensure strong national publishing capacity? 

7. "Language: People need at least the abstracts in their own language". This is currently being addressed through the new HIFA Project on Multilingualism (which serves to address issues of access to health information in languages other than English, and support alignment between HIFA forums in different languages: HIFA-English, HIFA-French, HIFA-Portuguese and, later this year, HIFA-Spanish and possibly HIFA-Arabic).

We need your input to move forward. To participate, join HIFA today and email your comments and suggestions direct to the HIFA community.