Publishers' Statement of Intent

Recognizing that biomedical research is essential to improving the health of the developing world, and that access to primary biomedical information is essential to research, a new effort is being undertaken to open access to the primary biomedical literature for developing country researchers and academics.

Six publishing companies – Blackwell, Elsevier Science, Harcourt Worldwide STM Group, Springer Verlag (Bertelsmann), John Wiley, and Wolters Kluwer International Health & Science – are responding to a call to the private sector from United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, in launching the Health InterNetwork in September 2000, and to the statement issued by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General, World Health Organization (WHO) in a press release on 5 December 2000, to engage in partnerships for improving health in the developing world. These companies are working with WHO to offer full electronic access to their biomedical journals via the Internet. It is expected that this initiative will expand to include other research information partners.

The partners in the Initiative acknowledge that access to primary biomedical journals is a critical issue in developing countries – one of many obstacles to improving health – and are willing to work with committed governments, international organisations and others to find ways to open access to this information. Intended to benefit research, academic and other organisations in developing countries working for the public good, such an initiative would:

  • Provide access to a wide range of key biomedical journals at prices which reflect the state of national economies in the developing world.
  • In some cases, access may be provided at no charge.
  • The Initiative applies only to bona fide academic and research institutions.
  • The Initiative includes most of the countries classified by the World Bank as low or lower-middle income.
  • Each publisher will offer access in the broad terms of the principles on which this Initiative is based, and will be free to provide specific arrangements according to its own business model.
  • Access will be only to the Publishers’ biomedical and health information.
  • Access authentication will be provided by WHO’s Health InterNetwork project.
  • Through this Initiative, the publishers are indicating support for the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the International Publishers Association and other organisations in promoting respect for the Berne Convention in the use of important scientific information.
  • All partners recognise the key role national governments will take in supporting this Initiative and developing it.
  • The Initiative will commence as soon as practical issues are resolved, and it is hoped that access will be provided from early 2002.
  • The Partners are committed to the success of the Initiative, and while monitoring its progress, expect it to continue for at least three years.
  • The publishers hope to work with the WHO in encouraging research publishing programmes in developing nations.
  • New partners will be sought to increase the amount of content within the Initiative and to provide funds and technology to establish a firm infrastructure for the future.

London, UK
9 July 2001

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