World Bank Plans to Make Its Research Open Access

World Bank logoHow does an organization that is notorious in the eyes of many activists find a way to do some good PR? Someone at the World Bank must have been asking that very question and found the answer with a new open access policy, which the global monetary institution plans to implement.

The concept of open access is not new. Many notable universities, scientific institutions, and even government agencies have open access policies. Rather than giving costly journals exclusive publishing rights to their research, these organizations create online open access repositories that allow anyone to download their work.

Starting July 1, the World Bank will offer such a service and has already created a new website called the Open Knowledge Repository, all in an effort to be, or at least appear to be, more transparent. The new policy is officially called “World Bank Open Access Policy for Formal Publications” and will apply to “manuscripts and all accompanying data sets… that result from research, analysis, economic and sector work, or development practice… that have undergone peer review or have been otherwise vetted and approved for release to the public; and… for which internal approval for release is given on or after July 1, 2012″

Yes, those are a lot of conditions, and yes, it could mean the World Bank can pick and choose which documents to release. Still, from a PR perspective, it looks good, and it means that many of the organization’s research materials will now be available under a Creative Commons license. For economists and students of economics, it means more access to knowledge.

To date, the Open Knowledge Repository has over 2,100 books and papers, and the new open access policy will undoubtedly increase that number significantly. These measures and others are part of the World Bank’s initiative to increase openness.

“Making our knowledge widely and readily available will empower others to come up with solutions to the world’s toughest problems,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. This is a good PR strategy – and many financial PR firms would recommend such a move, including Makovsky PR, Dukas PR or even MDC’ Partners Sloane & Co.

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