The lack of access to research software is a problem hindering equal access to research opportunities and reproducibility of research results, mainly in low and middle income countries. In the spirit of Open Science, this Working Group on equitable Global Access to Research Software (GARS) has focused its efforts on finding a way to enhance the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) as well as on obtaining discounted licenses of proprietary software for low- and middle-income countries. The Working Group has also conducted a large survey detailing the attitudes to and uptake of FOSS in different countries, with a special focus on Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria.
The report “Global Access to Research Software: The Forgotten Pillar of Open Science Implementation” was published in March 2018.
The Global Young Academy, in collaboration with Oxford-based organisation INASP, carried out a preliminary survey to assess the quantity and quality of access to proprietary and open source software among researchers from all disciplines based across the globe. Survey data were collected between July and December 2015, data analysis took place from January to December 2016 and report review, data analysis review and final editing happened from January 2017 to August 2017. Emphasis was placed on gathering data from researchers based in Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria, whose access and use of research software had not yet been extensively documented. Through the help of GYA volunteers, we were able to arrange extensive data collection and get unprecedented access to data about research software use and attitudes towards open software. These results should be used as the foundation for more detailed research in different countries and they can serve as a preliminary guide for new private initiatives and policy decisions in regard to improving access to software for scientists all over the world.