Send to

Choose Destination
West J Emerg Med. 2017 Oct;18(6):1018-1024. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2017.8.34930. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

Poor Access for African Researchers to African Emergency Care Publications: A Cross-sectional Study.

Author information

University of Cape Town, Division of Emergency Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa.
University of Cape Town, Faculty of Health Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa.
African Federation for Emergency Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa.



Based on relative population size and burden of disease, emergency care publication outputs from low- and middle-income regions are disproportionately lower than those of high-income regions. Ironically, outputs from regions with higher publication rates are often less relevant in the African context. As a result, the dissemination of and access to local research is essential to local researchers, but the cost of this access (actual and cost-wise) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to describe access to African emergency care publications in terms of publisher-based access (open access or subscription) and alternate access (self-archived or author provided), as well as the cost of access.


We conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study using all emergency medicine publications included in Scopus between 2011 and 2015. A sequential search strategy described access to each article, and we calculated mean article charges against the purchasing power parity index (used to describe out-of-pocket expense).


We included 666 publications from 49 journals, of which 395 (59.3%) were open access. For subscription-based articles, 106 (39.1%) were self-archived, 60 (22.1%) were author-provided, and 105 (38.8%) were inaccessible. Mean article access cost was $36.44, and mean processing charge was $2,319.34. Using the purchasing power parity index it was calculated that equivalent out-of-pocket expenditure for South African, Ghanaian and Tanzanian authors would respectively be $15.77, $10.44 and $13.04 for access, and $1,004.02, $664.36 and $830.27 for processing. Based on this, the corrected cost of a single-unit article access or process charge for South African, Ghanaian and Tanzanian authors, respectively, was 2.3, 3.5 and 2.8 times higher than the standard rate.


One in six African emergency care publications are inaccessible outside institutional library subscriptions; additionally, the cost of access to publications in low- and middle-income countries appears prohibitive. Publishers should strongly consider revising pricing for more equitable access for researchers from low- and middle-income countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, funding sources and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias. No author has professional or financial relationships with any companies that are relevant to this study. There are no conflicts of interest or sources of funding to declare.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center