May 2011

AuthorAID: Internet working for scientists from the developing world

AuthorAID started as a pilot program in 2007 and, after a three-year evaluation, was established on a permanent basis. The site’s emphasis is on supporting scientists in the developing world, with partner institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America and more than 2,800 registered users.

AuthorAID also provides online resources for those looking to teach or write about science and a forum in which members pose and answer questions. Walker says the online tools, mentoring and workshops conducted in multiple languages work together.

AuthorAID’s international funders and partners

• Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
• The Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation
• U.K. Department for International Development
• International Foundation for Science
• National University of Rwanda
• The Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases

“Workshops and training complement the online exchanges and help researchers to learn new skills and consolidate their existing knowledge,” she says, “as well as providing an opportunity to work on revising their papers in a peer group.”

Devendra Adhikari, a physics doctoral candidate and associate professor at Tribuhuvan University in Nepal, was grappling with suggested revisions from an Elsevier journal when he attended one of the AuthorAID workshops.

“I knew that if we do not agree with the reviewers, we can submit [a rebuttal] logically and politely,” Adhikari says. After attending the workshop, Adhiakri wrote his response and published his paper with the journal.

Another volunteer with the service, Daniel Korbel, has a doctorate in infectious disease immunology and serves as a science adviser for the Wellcome Trust. He has taken two mentees under his wing, one from Nigeria studying in Romania and the other from Cameroon. According to Korbel, the decision to aim for an international journal can be a difficult one to make.

“My mentee’s work was certainly good enough to at least give it a try … but, unfortunately, she was overruled,” he explains. As a result, his mentee’s lab in Romania decided that the difficulties involved in submitting internationally were not worth the payoff.

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