WIPO Study: Research4Life Program Spikes Research Output by up to 75% in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Published: lundi 20th mai 2024
Category: Press Releases

GENEVA, 20 May, 2024. A new study conducted by leading researchers from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the University of the Bundeswehr Munich and the German Economic Institute reveals that free or low-cost online access to scientific publications — as provided by Research4Life programs — results in a surge in scientific output, particularly in health sciences, by up to 75% in low- and middle-income countries.

“There seems to be a causal link between lowering barriers to online access to scientific publications and the increase in the scientific output of local researchers, » said Alexander Cuntz, Head of Creative Economy Section at WIPO, and one of the study’s authors. « Involvement in international clinical trials also grew by over 20%, suggesting that research and innovation in local institutions improved. »

Research institutions in the Caribbean, Central Asia, Europe, and Latin America saw their academic paper output increase by 80-100%. In terms of clinical trials, program participation was most impactful for East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, and North Africa, with trial activity rising by up to 35%.

The WIPO research paper conducted an empirical analysis of millions of data points, focusing on the Hinari collection of Research4Life, which is managed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Research4Life provides free or low-cost access to academic literature to researchers at more than 11,500 institutions in over 125 low- and middle-income countries.

In 2000, as WHO was beginning work on what would become Hinari, the Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland  predicted: « If researchers and scientists can read the same journals [and] search the same databases … as their colleagues from wealthier countries, it will strengthen their own research, bring them into the international community of researchers, and eventually improve dissemination of their own results.”  Kimberly Parker, Hinari Programme Manager at WHO reflects that “it is wonderful to finally have proof of that prediction and we are very proud that Hinari grew into the broader programme of Research4Life with such lasting impact.” 

While their results are encouraging, the study authors emphasize the continued need for policies and programs that support scientific creativity, local science, and innovation as vital drivers of countries’ industrial development.

The full report, detailing the study’s methodology and findings, can be accessed at this link.


About World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
WIPO is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to promoting innovation and creativity for economic, social, and cultural development through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system. For more information, visit www.wipo.int.

About Research4Life
Research4Life is a partnership of five UN agencies, WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell and Yale Universities, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers and up to 200 international publishers. Research4Life‘s mission is to build an inclusive, diverse and equitable scholarly communications environment by delivering free or low-cost access and user-focused training and resources to researchers in low- and middle-income countries. https://www.research4life.org