What are the challenges faced by academics in low income countries?


The Balme Library, University of Ghana (photo by me)

I’ve written a bit previously about AuthorAID, which offers small grants and mentoring for academics in low income countries.  They also have an active discussion group, and recently Andy Nobes used it for an impromptu poll of members’ biggest challenges.  He gave me permission to publish the responses here.  If you’re an academic in a low income country, what other challenges would you add?


Last week I asked the question “What is your biggest challenge”, and many of you wrote back with interesting and thought-provoking responses. I will attempt to summarise your responses here, starting with the most common:

• Seven people mentioned a lack of research funding.
• Six people mentioned writing in the English language as a major issue.
• Five people said they had problems finding relevant or genuine journals.
• Three people said they were frustrated by the delay with peer review.
• Three people mentioned significant problems getting their papers accepted though peer review.
• Three people mentioned that publication costs (such as Article Processing Charges) were a barrier.
• Three people said they were unable to find a mentor, or even somebody to check their manuscript before submission.
• Two people mentioned that they had difficulties with academic writing style.
• Two people mentioned insufficient laboratory equipment.
• And two people were frustrated that academic research wasn’t always relevant, or communicated properly to the public.

Other things that were mentioned:
• One person mentioned it was a challenge keeping within funding budgets.
• One person mentioned the difficulty of interpreting qualitative data.
• One person mentioned that they had problems getting access to publications.
• One person said there was a possible bias of some journals against developing country authors.
• One person also mentioned that European journals did not take locally collected data seriously.
• And one person mentioned it was difficult switching between different journal ‘Instructions for Authors’.