Global Participation Initiative

To accelerate the pace of discovery, PLOS aims to remove existing barriers that prevent scientists from sharing, finding, learning from and building upon the collective scientific body of knowledge. To achieve our mission of transforming research communication requires going beyond solving the problem of access for readers, to providing sustainable access for authors to the systems of scholarly communication. Any barrier to publication ultimately reduces the impact of Open Access by limiting the number of findings available to readers. This is particularly damaging when that barrier reduces the ability of global scholars from low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) to engage with the global research community.

To address this PLOS implemented a program called the Global Participation Initiative, designed to encourage wider participation by researchers in LMICs through targeted reductions in publication fees. Under the GPI program, countries are assigned one of two groups based on economic ranking according to the World Health Organization’s HINARI list. PLOS offers publication in any of the seven PLOS journals free of charge for manuscripts whose funders are in group #1 and at the flat fee of $500 for those in group #2.

More than a decade ago one of the biggest challenges in scientific publishing was access to the literature. Today, as a result of Open Access growth, millions of readers around the world are able to access scientific content with important, positive consequences for global health, scientific discovery and science education. However it is evident that access and contribution to research and scientific communication is still inconsistent. The goal of PLOS is to enable a global research communication system in which all researchers involved have a stake and are recognized as equal contributors. This is crucial so that…

  • Upper middle- and high-income countries (UMHICs) learn from research in LMICs. Traditional journals have focused on the issues of UMHICs, while journals focused on issues of local relevance do not always achieve global reach. PLOS is committed to the publication of research of global and local relevance and increasing access to publication can help to deliver this.
  • LMICs get to participate in setting global agendas and research priorities, and ensuring these agendas are more globally inclusive. A track record of publication is often a prerequisite to participation in these discussions making barriers to publication particularly problematic.
  • In addition to contributing to global science, improving access to research can underpin global development. Access to health research for instance is a key element for developing healthcare capacity as well as locally relevant health research in LMICs. Without access to research and the ability to communicate local findings to a global audience the development of local health research capability is challenging. Furthermore, publication in journals with a global reach also enhances an author’s credibility while elevating the visibility of the research, while providing valuable experience in navigating the international publication system that authors can build on.