Re-launched IDS Bulletin aspires to “transform development knowledge”

Published on 8 February 2016

Our flagship publication, the IDS Bulletin, was officially re-launched as an open access journal at the British Library. In continuous publication since 1968, the journal enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s leading development research publications.

“Flipping” from a subscription-based to open access journal will make it more widely available to non-academic audiences and as well as researchers globally, including from countries such as India who cannot access journals through initiatives such as the Research4Life.

Formerly co-published with Wiley Blackwell, the world’s second largest journal publisher, the decision to take the IDS Bulletin back in-house and make it open access is part of a broader drive at IDS to improve engagement with ours and partners’ research by academic, practitioner and policy audiences. It also coincides the launch of a new IDS Strategy, the celebration of IDS’ 50th Anniversary and the end of the contract with Wiley.

We recently ran a survey of IDS stakeholders which found that a 74% of respondents agreed that articles in open access journals were more likely to be read by non-academics whilst 59% cited “free access” as a key factor in determining whether or not they will engage with research, over and above author reputation and whether the research had been recommended to them.

Editor-in-Chief, Professor Melissa Leach said “I am incredibly excited that we are re-launching the IDS Bulletin as an open access publication. It represents just one of the ways in which IDS is making real its strategic commitment to engaged excellence across all of our work. It has allowed us to actively link and involve, in the creation and sharing of the journal, those at the heart of the change we wish to see, be they an early career researcher in the UK, an NGO worker in Malawi or a Minister in the Indian Government.”

First Issue fittingly focuses on “Opening Governance”

Fittingly, the first Issue to be published this year, focuses on Opening Governance looking at the interplay between open data, open government, accountability, citizenship and transparency.

As a result of being open access, the Issue has proved hugely popular on social media, with articles easy to share and link to, and without concerns about readers facing a paywall. By the official launch date last week, Opening Governance totalled over 8,000 article downloads, a figure indicative of its popularity but we are in the process of developing a range of others measures that will give a more accurate measure of the IDS Bulletin‘s reach and impact.

The new open access format means that the journal will be primarily available online, and articles will be licensed under one of three Creative Commons licenses. We are expecting to bring our entire back catalogue of Issues online by April this year. As part of the re-launch, we have also convened an Editorial Advisory Board, comprised of leading social scientists and policy-influencers from right across the development studies spectrum, as well as open access advocates, as well as an internal Editorial Steering Group.

Open access advocate praises IDS innovative approach

Speaking at the launch, Dr Martin Eve, an open access advocate and Senior Lecturer in Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, said:

“As researchers, it’s vital that we can produce niche work that is not dependent on a market. The freedom from the need to sell is what can enable open access to academic work. However, many open access publishing models essentially shift the cost from subscribers to authors or institutions through Article Processing Charges (APC) in a way that is problematic and exclusionary for those without such funding.

The fact that the IDS Bulletin does not charge APCs is a fantastic development that will assist in its noble goal of an international, co-participatory approach to knowledge.”

Read his full blog ‘A Brave New World of Open Access Publishing

Key features of the new journal

  • A new website with responsive design which means it can easily read on any device
  • Full-text of all articles published from January 2016 available to read online as well as to download as PDFs
  • All Issues and articles are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, from January 2016
  • A new international Editorial Board appointed as well as an Editorial Steering Group

Key contacts

Image of Emilie Wilson

Emilie Wilson

Communications and Impact Officer


+44 (0)1273 915779