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Re: Bioline International Call for Support

I wish to make the highly unpopular point that while it is 
desirable to have full engagement from all members of the world 
community in research activity, what matters in the end is the 
quality of the outputs.  The range of voices creating inputs 
matters only insofar as they improve the outputs. Light travels 
at the same speed in Tokyo, Santiago, and Riyadh.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: <lesliechan@rogers.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: Bioline International Call for Support

> Thank you, David, for raising your questions and concerns about 
> the call for support from Bioline International (BI). I 
> gathered from your questions that we perhaps did not word our 
> message as clearly as we might have. We are not starting up new 
> "niche journals", nor are we bundling the journals on our 
> system for subscription purpose, as all the journals on our 
> site are freely available.  So I would like to invite you to 
> visit our web site and to find out more about the 70 journals 
> hosted on our system:
> http://www.bioline.org.br/journals
> http://www.bioline.org.br/info?id=bioline&doc=about
> All the journals are peer-reviewed with each journal having its
> own editorial practices.  It is true that many draw their
> editorial board members and reviewers primarily from their
> regions, and garnering more international exposure is one of the
> objectives of Bioline.  BI is not a publisher, but an open access
> and dissemination platform for bioscience journals from
> developing countries that do not have their own infrastructure
> due to cost and technical barriers. The goal is to assist them
> with online presence in order to improve their visibility and
> their uptake, and to ensure that their content are indexed in
> mainstream as well as regional databases (such as African Index
> Medicus).  We have been very successful in this regard and now we
> have a waiting list of 70 journals from various part of the
> developing world wanting to be part of the collection. As we do
> not charge the publishers any fee, we have been sustaining the
> project through in-kind support, subsidies from my university and
> small grants. We have one paid staff and all of us support the
> project on a volunteer basis. We are appealing to the broader
> community for support as we would like to increase the staff time
> and technology support for the project and to expand the content.
> Please visit the web site for details on how you could act as a
> member or sponsor:
> http://www.bioline.org.br/info?id=bioline&doc=support
> http://www.bioline.org.br/BiolineBrochure.pdf
> So why do we think it is important to support regional journals,
> particularly those from the global South? Until recently,
> knowledge production has been dominated by hegemonic practices
> favoured by the powerful industrialized countries, resulting in
> "mainstream" methods, theories and discourse styles considered by
> western societies to be the international standards and hence the
> hallmark of "quality". This system has been perpetuating itself
> without much need for reflection.  The result is that the voices
> and wisdom from other parts of the world that do not fit the
> "international standards" are excluded and so they remain largely
> invisible, and researchers the world over are all the poorer.  We
> now live in an increasingly connected world, where events in one
> part of the world can have immediate and direct consequences on
> other part of the world, however remote they may seem. This is
> true not only for the current global economic crisis, but for
> emerging diseases, climate change, and a host of other
> environmental and social issues that now bind all of us,
> regardless of national or geographical boundaries. So it is not
> at all for  "philanthropic" reason that BI operates, but for the
> simple reason that "scientific findings do not belong to a
> country but to the whole world", as my colleague Hernan Riquelme,
> Editor of  the Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research noted.
> http://www.bioline.org.br/info?id=bioline&doc=testimonials
> Equally important is the fact that journals that publish results
> of special relevance to their regions are of particular
> importance for informing local policy making, health care
> practices, food production methods, and other development related
> issues that supposedly international journals do not always
> adequately address.  Consider an article like this one:  "Post
> traumatic stress disorder among former child soldiers attending a
> rehabilitative service and primary school education in northern
> Uganda."   African Health Sciences, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2008, pp.
> 136-141 (http://www.bioline.org.br/abstract?id=hs08030&lang=en)
> Would the article above by a group of researchers from the Gulu
> region of Uganda likely be published in a western medical
> journal? Not likely I would surmise, given the "regional" nature
> of the article and the fact that issues of relevance to the
> developing world are rarely reported in subscription based
> western medical journals.
> http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1459140
> If by a remote chance the above should be published in a paid
> access journal, who in Uganda or other war torn regions would be
> able to afford to access the article? Would the prestige of
> publishing in an international journal outweigh the benefits of
> having the article widely accessible to heath workers,
> researchers, policy makers and the public at large?   I would not
> indulge in a long-winded discussion about the importance of
> supporting local journals and the importance of open access.
> Instead please refer to the following pieces:
> http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926645.000-comment-the-developing-world-needs-its-own-science-journals.html
> http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v8/n2/full/7400906.html
> http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/regional-journals-can-boost-science-capacity.html
> https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/4255
> I truly appreciate the time you have taken to write about Bioline
> and I hope I have been able not only to clarify the nature of the
> project and its goals, but also convince you of the merits of
> joining Bioline International.
> Best wishes
> Leslie Chan
> ________________________________
>  From: "Stern, David" <David_Stern@brown.edu>
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 7:51:07 PM
> Subject: RE: Bioline International Call for Support
> While I admire any attempt to open the literature to all readers,
> this proposal raises two questions:
> 1. Should we be supporting regional publications as opposed to
> encouraging all manuscripts to pass through the existing
> "international" peer review boards?
> 2. Is this the right time to to start new niche journals, which
> compete with our present journals?
> Librarians constantly attempt to prioritize journal content based
> upon relative quality.  We simply cannot afford to buy all the
> quality material that is published.  One way is to have all
> authors compete for the top peer review boards (reflected by the
> top journals). Adding additional layers of peer review boards
> with special interests may make this evaluation much more
> difficult, and in some ways may disenfranchise authors who
> publish in regional publications.  If we are to create niche
> journals, shouldn't they be based upon  disciplines -- where we
> can more easily create less expensive and  targeted titles for
> those unable to afford the larger and often  more expensive
> prestige cross-subject journals?  Regional focus  seems more
> difficult to justify, as the interdisciplinary nature  makes it
> more difficult to support based upon specific subject
> priorities.  (Unless of course you are supporting specific
> geographical research, which we do, but which is already covered
> in quality international journals.)  We have seen the
> proliferration of regional journals in the past  few years:
> Central European Journal of ..., Russian Journal of  ..., now
> this package.  In the long run, using evidence-based  practices,
> how are we to justify reducing support for our highest  use
> subject journals in order to support these titles (unless  they
> have earned high use ratings)?  Like it or not, we are being
> forced to raid our subscriptions and  move toward on-demand
> document delivery for more of our user  needs. Perhaps these
> regional titles will also need to reconsider  the subscription
> approach and move toward the unbundled approach  for survival.
> Just some thoughts as budgets get tighter and we need to
> reconsider any subscription support ideas.
> David Stern
> Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources
> Brown University
> John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library
> Providence, RI 02912