AGORA is the acronym for the Access to Global Online Research on Agriculture program. It was started by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with a number of publishing partners to provide developing countries access to scientific information on food, agriculture, environmental science and related social sciences.
There are over 1278 journal titles available to institutions in 107 countries. AGORA is part of Research4Life, the collective name for four programs - HINARI (focusing on health), AGORA (focusing on agriculture), OARE (focusing on environment), and ARDI (focusing on applied science and technology).
The AGORA program, its sister programs and their publishing partners have committed to continuing the initiative until at least 2015.
The AGORA program was launched in October 2003 with FAO and nine founding publishers: Blackwell Publishing, CABI Publishing, Elsevier, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, Springer-Verlag, and John Wiley & Sons. Other key partners include Microsoft and Cornell University. Currently a total of 39 publishers participate in AGORA and provide journal content.
When launched, AGORA provided access to 400 journals. As of March 2010, the initiative has increased to providing access to over 1278 journals.
The development has been in two phases: Phase I, occurring in 2003, allowed access to 69 countries. Phase II increased this by allowing around 30 additional countries access at low cost.
Currently, AGORA provides access to those countries as agreed by the publishers, based on certain criteria. The eligibility for each country is based on GNI per capita as provided by World Bank figures. Therefore, institutions in countries with GNI per capita below US$1250 (Band 1) are eligible for free access. Institutions in countries with GNI per capita between US$1251 and US$3500 (Band 2) pay a fee of US$1000 per year per institution.
The eligible countries are therefore determined by the publishers themselves.
Due to publishers' market interests and business plans, not all developing countries are eligible, as in some of these countries, the publishers have significant levels of existing subscriptions. Some of these countries include South Africa, India and China.
Critics[who?] find problems with the use of GNI as a criterion, however. China, for example, is a large developing country facing an information divide, which is not reflected by the GNI. In large cities and coastal areas of China, per capita GNI can be four times that of the poor localities, yet poor 'local' researchers cannot get low-price access because China as a whole surpasses the baseline criterion.
- HINARI (Access to Research Initiative) launched in 2002 and is administered by World Health Organization (WHO).
- OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) launched in October 2006 and is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- ARDI (Access to Research for Development and Innovation) launched in 2010 and administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- The TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) Project is administered through Mann Library’s Collection and Services Department.
- ITOCA (Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa), in Pretoria, South Africa, handles awareness and training missions across the African continent.
- Davidson, Joy. "The Long-Term Future of HINARI, AGORA and OARE," DCC News, 16 August 2006. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- "Online scientific information on food and agriculture for poorest countries," FAO Newsroom, 14 October 2003. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- "The power of information - closing the knowledge gap," FAO Newsroom, 27 September 2006. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- "Training increases HINARI and AGORA benefits," Research Information, 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- Jia Hepeng. "Journal access schemes need to change," SciDev.net blog, 25 July 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2010.