Moves to make scientific information 'open access' are slowly gaining ground, and international collaboration is breaking down barriers between institutions and countries.
But for everyone to benefit from scientific progress, developing countries must be able to access research — and share their own work — as easily as any developed country, says Arthur Carty, national science advisor to the Canadian prime minister.
Scientists in poorer nations need access to research papers, and other publications from academia and governments. But providing computers and ensuring that researchers have access to the Internet is not enough, he says. The infrastructure is in place in most countries, but researchers, governments and companies now need a change of mindset.
The approach to open access has often been to put research into free access archives. What is now needed, says Carty, is active encouragement so that everyone involved in knowledge creation strives to share it with the rest of the world.
Researchers need to be motivated to share their findings and collaborate with others — perhaps through rewards from funding agencies or governments. Institutions also need to be encouraged to maintain their archives.
Nurturing open access will be key to ensure that the scientific knowledge amassed is not lost, he says.