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  • Microsoft accelerates free access to journals


Information technology company Microsoft will give technical assistance to enhance access to online research for scientists, policymakers and librarians in the developing world.

This was announced at a meeting in Washington last week (10 July).

Representatives from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Environmental Programme, and leading science and technology publishers, together with representatives from Cornell and Yale Universities met to officially extend their free access to peer-reviewed journals for many developing world scientists to 2015, in line with the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations' Technology Officer, Randy Ramusack, said the technical assistance will give policymakers and librarians from the developing world faster access to peer-reviewed science journals from three portals.

The portals ― HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative), AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) ― provide access to journals focusing on health, agriculture and the environment to more than 100 of the world's poorest countries. 

"We consider this as [a] donation to a society that needs it most and as the initiative's only technology partner, Microsoft is providing a new system for access and authentication, enabling secure and effective use of the programs in developing countries," said Ramusack.

Microsoft will provide new software called the Intelligent Application Gateway 2007 that will meet increased demand for access to heavily trafficked portals and perform at the standards of today's most heavily trafficked websites, said Ramusack. The system will also enhance security through authentication of users when they log on.

Professor Otieno Malo, the chairman of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences, said this will improve research capacity for institutions and researchers.

"[The new system] will greatly enhance scientific research collaborations between the developing and developed world scientists through research works and even put us in touch with relevant institutions and researchers once we get their works online," he told SciDev.Net.

"HINARI-AGORA-OARE removes many of the barriers that we in the developing world have been facing in accessing published literature," said Mohamed Jalloh, consultant urologist at the Hôpital Général de Grand Yoff in Dakar, Senegal.

"These programs have the great potential to improve health, education training and research in remote areas all around the world," he said. "They have drastically improved the way we work at the hospital."

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