Development researchers live in a world where research on development, not just in economics but also political science, environmental science, anthropology (to name just a few areas of inquiry) is abundant. It is often very easy to access, with information technology now being at the centre of a researcher's life, in ways that would have been unimaginable when many of us were starting out. I still like to graze amongst the bound volumes of journals in libraries--the smell of old journals, a kind of mix of old printers' ink and dust, remains appealing. But actually finding anything sometimes takes too much work. What if that journal is sitting on some other reader's desk in a far part of the library? And what if you can't get to the library today?
Yet, while much is freely available on the web, an awful lot more also sits behind paywalls. Or is accessible only if you are a member of a university library that subscribes to the journal you want. Access in the Global South can be especially limited--when library resources are meager and bandwidth slow. To their credit, some sites offer free access to those in the South, but not always. Publishers have to make a living (it's not a charity), but as researchers we want everything to available now, and for free. It's a dilemma in which the academic world finds itself, and many of our colleagues in the physical sciences are developing new ways to get their results out into the bigger world.
UNU-WIDER is now negotiating with publishers to offer more of its journal papers on open access. So you our readers can freely read more of our journal articles online. This doesn't come cheap, but we think the benefits more than outweigh the financial costs. So resources permitting, you will find more of our published material available this way. We will give priority to journal special issues, where we have a number coming out this year. Which brings me neatly to:
Poverty, Development, and Behavioral Economics
This is our new UNU-WIDER special issue of the Review of Income and Wealth, and the entire issue is open access. The theme is 'Poverty, Development, and Behavioral Economics', edited by Markus Jantti, Ravi Kanbur, and Jukka Pirttila, and is the output of a UNU-WIDER project on new approaches to measuring poverty and vulnerability (and conference) that ran in our 2009-13 work programmes.
The project set out to answer some fascinating questions. One is how poverty causes people to depart from the standard...