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Monday, 10 April 2017

Accessing the Scientific Publication that You Need

By Kwame Agyei Dankwah
Access to scientific publications has become one of the ultimate wishes of most people who find themselves in knowledge-producing industries. Researchers, lecturers, students and librarians, particularly those in developing countries go through a lot in order to have access to these publications. Most academic and research institutions however, have libraries that facilitate access to these resources, mostly through what has become known as institutional subscriptions.

In an effort to reduce the gap in knowledge production and knowledge accessibility, most international stakeholders like the WHO, UN, INASP, USAID and a host of them have undertaken initiatives to compel “big publishers” to make their products available for free or at a lower cost to researchers in low and middle income countries. For instance, in order to help achieve its SDGs, the UN through its various agencies came out with the Research4Life programme to provide expensive and extensive scientific publications in Health, Agriculture, Environment and Development and Innovation. The USAID through its K4Health programme has also made available unquantifiable peered-reviewed and grey literature on reproductive health for free.

This write up aims to introduce to readers to the many channels through which they can have access to scientific literature for their research and teaching.
Your Institutional Library
If you find yourself working for any academic or research institute, then, the institute’s library should be your friend. By their mandates, libraries corroborate the research activities of their patrons by subscribing to a number of academic databases. The scope of these databases usually covers the mission and visions of the mother institution. These databases require login credentials. However, by virtue of your relationship with your institution, you are entitled to these credentials. Kindly see your librarian for your username and password because they will serve as a gateway to resources you would otherwise have to pay hundreds of dollars for.

This is the broader name for the UN initiative to provide scientific publications to researchers and academics in low and middle income countries. This initiative comprises: HINARI (medicine and health), ARDI (technology and innovation), OARE (environmental science), and AGORA (agriculture). These resources also include contents that are multidisciplinary in scope, such as economics, public policy, anthropology, development etc. If your library is not benefiting from the Research 4 Life programmes, kindly prompt your librarian to register. If your library is already registered, kindly ask your librarian for your login credentials to access these resources at

INASP has become a household name that supports research in developing countries. They have negotiated for deeply discounted, sometimes free, access to online research literature for eligible institutions in many countries. You can visit INASP at to verify if your institution is eligible. Use the “Country” box at to select your country and choose the “view research literature” bar to see the list of resources available.

Open Access
Open Access (OA) means unrestricted online access to scholarly research. No registration is needed. For a list of more open access resources, kindly visit the INASP training resources:

Institutional Repositories (IR)
An institutional repository is an online archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research or academic institution. The development of an IR has redefined the production and dissemination of scholarly materials within an academic community. A repository may contain a range of materials deposited there by scholars including, but not limited to, copies of journals articles (e.g. ‘Green’ Open Access pre-prints), conference papers, working papers, theses and dissertations, and datasets from research projects. Materials could be accessed for free from these repositories. Your institution may have a Repository. Check from your librarian. You can also help to build such repositories by willingly submitting your publications to be made available for others to access them for free.

Using these channels, it is hoped that researchers and academics will find it easier looking for the required resources to write their papers.

Your views and suggestions are welcome.