Open for action: IDS celebrates Open Access Week 2016

Published on 27 October 2016

The theme for this year’s 9th International Open Access Week is “open in action”. This theme feels appropriate to IDS’ own endeavours over the course of 2016 which include re-launching its flagship publication as an open access journal, celebrating 20 years of the development portal Eldis and enhancing OpenDocs, our e-repository of development research.

Earlier this year, we re-launched our flagship publication, the IDS Bulletin, as a gold open access journal.

Not only did we want all future issues to be “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” but we also committed to making the IDS Bulletin‘s entire back catalogue, going back almost fifty years, available online. Additionally, we built the new IDS Bulletin website using the open source software Open Journal Systems, contributing new code as we tailored the software to our own unique needs.

Our goal was not just open up access to our research for readers. We also want to the IDS Bulletin to be a vehicle for profiling researchers from the global South.

Currently, scholarly publishing is dominated by northern scholars. As South African open access campaigner, Eve Gray, who is a member of the new IDS Bulletin editorial board, once said: “In the scholarly world, Africa is silenced by a publishing system which doesn’t give it voice.”

Open access itself can contribute to this exclusion since, if the reader isn’t paying to access the article, than it’s often the author who is paying to have it published.

Journals can charge “Article Processing Fees” of up to $3,000, a sum that is completely out of reach to most scholars from the global South. As well as proactively seeking contributions from authors based in the global South, the new IDS Bulletin also had to develop a different business model than that of most open access journals.

The results of re-launching as an open access journal are beginning to speak for themselves:

  • Article download figures more than tripled since the IDS Bulletin went open access
  • New issues and articles have been widely shared on social media, reviewed on blogs and shared by email
  • Forty per cent of the articles published in the last ten issues were written by Southern contributors including from Afghanistan, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya and Mexico.

Please take a moment to complete our survey

Whether or not you have read an issue of the IDS Bulletin, we want to invite you to complete our survey as this will help us improve our understanding of how people access and use research for their work and studies.

Information and knowledge experts gather to celebrate Eldis’ 20th Anniversary

Renowned development portal, Eldis, which is hosted by IDS, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

Over half a million users visit the site every year and more than 50% of our regular visitors are based in developing countries.

Additionally, all of its content is Open Licensed so that it can be re-used by anyone that needs it. Website managers, applications developers and Open Data enthusiasts can all re-use Eldis content to enhance their own services or develop new tools. See our Get the Data page for more information.

As part of the celebrations, the Eldis team held a two-day workshop around the theme “Learning form 20 years of digital knowledge sharing for global development”.

Distinguished speakers included Williams Nwagwu from the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), who spoke on CODESRIA’s African open access project, and knowledge ecologist, Sarah Cummings, who spoke on the SDGs and local knowledge for development.

British Library for Development Studies further enhances e-repository OpenDocs

The British Library for Development Studies (BLDS), based at IDS, has been working hard behind the scenes to drive the development and enhancement of OpenDocs, an open access e-repository of development research.

New enhancements include the ability to “stream” PDFs, which means users with low-bandwidth with another way of accessing the full text without downloading it, and support for the RIOXX metadata framework which will help OpenDocs comply with the Research Councils UK policy on open access. In due course, OpenDocs will also integrate with the ORCID systems, which provides researchers with unique identifiers, solving current problems with author disambiguation.

The BLDS digital library, a collection on OpenDocs, continues to be a much used resource as can be seen by the download numbers that are still growing year on year by 30-40 %. Additionally, institutions such as the African Capacity Building Foundation and the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research have continued to deposit key publications into the digital library even after project funding to support this has come to an end.

In the long-term, BLDS will be establishing an open access research data repository to compliment OpenDocs which is a publications repository, and will be working with colleagues at IDS on how to manage publications through OpenDocs which were originally published or being published through Gold Open Access.

Key contacts

Gary Edwards

Senior Marketing and Data Protection Officer


+ 44 (0)1273 915637

Emilie Wilson

Communications and Impact Officer


+44 (0)1273 915779