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Researchers in the world’s poorest nations — where Internet connections can be slow or prohibitively expensive — can now receive some scientific papers free of charge by electronic mail.

The eJournals Delivery Service, which began operating in January, allows developing-world scientists to search and download up to three articles per day from selected journals using e-mail only.

Several publishing companies have joined the programme, including Academic Press, the American Physical Society and World Scientific.

The initiative — launched by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), both based in Trieste, Italy — comes on the heels of a number of programmes that aim to increase the availability of scientific literature in developing countries by providing free or cut-price access to the electronic version of scientific journals.

But in some areas, scientists have found it difficult to take up the offers because, although they have e-mail, they do not have full Internet connections.

“People cannot get to the journals if they do not have good Internet access,” says Hilda Cerdeira, Head of the ICTP/TWAS Donation Programme. “We have provided the last link.”

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eJournals Delivery Service homepage