An Interview with Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. on joining OASPA

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Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. has recently become a member of OASPA in the Scholar Publisher category, further enriching the growing community of members. To gain more insight into their recent affiliation with OASPA and to learn more about them, we conducted an interview with Romuladus E. Azuine, DrPH, MPH, RN – Editor-in-Chief, GHEP Journals.

Q. Tell us a bit about your organization and the service it provides – and your role within it.

The name of our organization is Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. (GHEP). GHEP is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, USA with a mission to eliminate health disparities by addressing the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes, also known as the social determinants of health. GHEP addresses its mission through education, research, and advocacy. We operate several initiatives aimed at promoting health equity, including the International Journal of Maternal and Child Health and AIDS (IJMA) and the International Journal of Translational Medical Research and Public Health (IJTMRPH). GHEP Journals were founded by a group of minority African and Asian Diaspora researchers who wanted to address the barriers and lack of capacity faced by researchers from low-and-middle-income countries in publishing in global health journals. As one of the Editors of GHEP Journals, my role involves overseeing the publication process, ensuring the integrity and quality of published research, and advancing our organization’s mission to foster dialogue and disseminate knowledge on critical health issues affecting vulnerable populations worldwide. I am also responsible for identifying and fostering publishing relationships with organizations whose missions align with ours.

Q. Why did you decide to join OASPA, and what do you hope to get out of your OASPA membership?

GHEP recognizes the power in the African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We decided to join the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA) because of its commitment to advancing open access publishing, which aligns closely with our organization’s values and goals. As a member of OASPA, we aim to collaborate with other stakeholders, especially small academia-led players in the scholarly publishing community, access resources and best practices to enhance the quality and visibility of our journals, and contribute to ongoing discussions and initiatives aimed at promoting open access publishing globally. We hope that our membership in OASPA will facilitate greater engagement with the broader scholarly publishing community and help us further our mission of promoting global health and education.

Q. How is your organization demonstrating its commitment to making globally equitable participation in open scholarly communication a reality?

GHEP is committed to ensuring globally equitable participation in open scholarly communication by removing barriers to access and promoting inclusivity in research dissemination. Our journals, IJMA and IJTMRPH, are freely accessible to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers worldwide, irrespective of their geographic location or financial resources. We actively engage with diverse communities, support authors from low- and middle-income countries, and advocate for policies that promote open access and knowledge sharing. More than 95% of papers published in our journals are published free or at tremendously discounted publication costs. Additionally, about 60% of papers that we publish undergo English language editing that ordinarily would cost the authors thousands of dollars in hiring language editors because they are not originally English language writers. By prioritizing accessibility and inclusivity, GHEP strives to amplify the voices of underrepresented researchers in low and middle-income countries and contribute to a more equitable global research ecosystem.

Q. What do you think are the main challenges for funders and institutions to overcome to better incentivise open publishing practices as a positive contribution to career development?

Funders and institutions face several challenges in incentivizing open publishing practices, including concerns about the perceived quality and prestige of open access publications, as well as entrenched academic reward systems that prioritize traditional publishing models. To better incentivize open publishing, funders and institutions need to recognize the societal impact and scholarly value of open access research and revise their evaluation criteria accordingly. Additionally, there is a need for greater transparency and accountability in the evaluation process to ensure that researchers are appropriately recognized for their contributions to open scholarship. Finally, small academic led-publications are currently endangered due to lack of funding as they do not have the financial muscle and clout that large commercial publishers have to compete for submissions or negotiate publishing arrangements with major academic institutions. It is important to offer reserved slots for smaller organizations to benefit from several publishing arrangements to avoid these publishers going into commercial and existential extinction.

Q. How do you think OASPA can help mitigate those challenges?

OASPA could play a critical role in ensuring that small, academic-led publishers do not go into extinction. There are some models that could be borrowed from conservation and the commercial world, at least in the United States. From the conservation world, OASPA could advocate for exclusivity of access to funding for small-scale publishers that is reserved for them alone as in the protection of animals from poaching and endangered species. From the commercial world, OASPA could be the broker of last resort and advocate for small and minority set-asides that encourages each large scale publisher to support a specified number of small-scholar-led publishers through publishing grants and awards. This could enable everyone to thrive including large and small journal publishers. Could OASPA be the broker of such arrangements in the publishing world? To my knowledge, no other organization is doing this and it is critically needed. OASPA can play a crucial role in mitigating the challenges faced by funders and institutions by providing advocacy, guidance, and support for the adoption of open publishing practices. This could involve promoting best practices for evaluating the quality and impact of open access research, advocating for policies that incentivize open publishing, and facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders. By raising awareness about the benefits of open access publishing and fostering a culture of openness and collaboration within the academic community, OASPA can help accelerate the transition towards a more equitable and sustainable scholarly publishing landscape.

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