Open Access and Access to Scholary Materials in Developing Countries

Developing world scholars’ appetite for scholarly output is enormous. But pay-wall has been a barrier which effectively kept developing world scholars from touching scholarly materials for years; or at best severely limited their access to those materials. Now, the pay-walls look crumbling under ever increasing weight of open access publishing. Open access and new communication technologies, working in collaboaration, are gradually bringing the wall down.

As one of success stories recently achieved, scholarly books made freely accessible by Open Book Publishers (founded in 2008) have attracted 150,000 readers in 2013 . This is a dramatic jump from 5,000 readers in 2009. Here, sheer increase in the numbers of readers with in short period of time by itself is amazing. What is more interesting is the geographic origin of those readers. Remarkably, there are soaring numbers of readers from developing countries such as India, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Evidently, this shows that the major factor keeping developing countries scholars from scholarly publications is pay-wall.

Incredible increase in the numbers of readers and interest for open access materials are happening despite weak or unstable internet connection in developing countries. To sail through connectivity challenges, readers of OA materials are not solely relying on computers and tablets to read/download scholarly output, nonetheless. Some readers access the content of open access books/articles using their mobile phones. Significant numbers of readers in Nigeria and Ethiopia are using their phones as reading devices.

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