Cambridge University Press works with several international aid programs to secure sustainable access to research for people living in developing countries. One of the major schemes Cambridge is involved with is INASP, an international development charity working in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the following interview, Anne Powell, Programme Manager for INASP, outlines INASP’s mission, how access to research has changed and how Cambridge works with INASP to help advance research and knowledge worldwide.

Q1) What is the origin and remit of INASP?

INASP was founded by ICSU (International Council of Science) in 1992 in response to the clear need for scientists in developing countries to have access to online journals. We soon realised that was not enough so developed a Journals Online programme to support the publication of local journals.  We’ve since added in more support to researchers in writing and sharing their research and to policy makers in demanding and interpreting research to develop strong policies.

Local partnerships are central to INASP’s approach and we have been working for more than 20 years to support individuals, institutions and national bodies in more than 25 developing or low-income countries with the core skills, networks and knowledge to play an equal role in the international research community.

We use the following pyramid to describe our work in  different countries.

INASP pyramid
Click for an enlarged image

Q2) How important do you think INASP has been in providing access to research in the countries you work with and how has that access changed in the years since INASP was founded?

The “access” side of INASP’s work is widely known in participating countries and they have really appreciated our efforts. Researchers in over 1,600 developing-country institutions have access to over 50,000 online journals and 20,000 e-books through INASP.

Research needs have changed substantially. We have watched the consortia we have been working with develop management structures, understand the need to raise their status and visibility and now manage their own selection of and payment for e-resources.  As an example, in 2007 members of the Kenyan consortium had access to 23,000 journals, by 2014, this had increased to 51,000 journals and 1,200 e-books. Usage figures show a similar pattern of increase but there is still work to be done in building awareness and use of resources.

Q3) What initiatives have INASP launched to increase content engagement?

By working with publishers to enable affordable, sustainable access to research information at a national level we have now reached a situation where researchers know they will have reliable, on-going access to literature. In particular we’ve focussed on:

  • Training librarians in the skills needed to manage access within their institutions
    • This includes workshops on information literacy and marketing of e-resources
    • Transition training to enable and empower library consortia to take over and manage access from INASP on behalf of their member institutions
  • Marketing of e-resources to help increase awareness
    • INASP has done some marketing of e-resources, but again, as the consortia develop capacity, we have supported them to do marketing themselves through the offer of small competitive grants to seed their activities and through sharing of tips and suggestions on discussion lists

Q4) How do you work  with Cambridge University Press?

Cambridge joined INASP in 2006 and currently offers subscriptions to Cambridge Journals Online (CJO).  CJO is very popular so in 2016 we have national level subscriptions in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.  Few other resources have such a wide uptake, as the consortia make their own selections based on research needs and budgets.  Cambridge is now discussing joint training with local trainers from the INASP network in Ghana and Uganda.

Cambridge has been a strong supporter of our Publishers for Development (PfD) initiative and we are looking forward to extending the content offered by CUP with subject specific ebook collections in future.

Q5) What do you see as the future of INASP and other aid donation agreements?

As research environments change and develop, access initiatives need to respond flexibly to prevailing conditions.  I feel that the combined INASP activities designed to improve access, production, communication and use of research information and knowledge are always  going to be needed, in some form or other, long term.

Our aim is for all our work to become sustainable, so that countries are equipped to solve their own development challenges.  As our roles decrease in one area, with partners picking those functions up, new openings emerge including opportunities to support research needs in other countries. There is certainly plenty of work left to be done.

We have recently published a series of profiles of the research and knowledge system in several countries: South Sudan, Somali regions and Liberia to extend our learning and share that more widely.

Q6) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing developing countries in accessing academic content?

Many of the challenges facing researchers in developing countries are the same as those facing researchers worldwide- such as the conflicting pressure of teaching and research workloads despite financial limitations.

One of the biggest challenges, unique to developing countries, is the limitations in ICT and power supply infrastructures.  To try to help publishers understand how this affects their usage statistics, we feature developing country speakers at the Publishers for Development meetings and share information through our website and mailing lists.

More information on INASP can be found on their website.

Cambridge University Press also supports AuthorAID, a pioneering program based at INASP that helps researchers in developing countries to publish and promote their work through a combination of training, networking and personal mentoring.

The image featured shows an interactive INASP training of trainers workshop in Accra Ghana


  1. I am an occupational therapist with years of back copies of The British Journal of Occupational Therapy. It seems such a waste to throw them away when there is a possibility that they might be of use to others studying occupational therapy in developing countries, but with limited access to internet. Can you please advise on how best to go about journal donation? Kind regards,

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *