Information Have-Nots; May 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Gibbs; 2 Page(s)
Researchers at Addis Ababa University face a disheartening sight when they visit the library to catch up on advances in their fields. Shelves that just six years ago were filled with the latest issues of more than 1,200 academic journals lie barren. The elimination of its foreign currency budget in 1989 forced the library to cancel about 90 percent of its subscriptions, severing the conduit that conveyed news of discovery to scientists in the Ethiopian capital.
Throughout Africa and many other parts of the developing world, the flow of scientific information from the rich countries of the North has dried up over the past decade. The squeeze tightens a vicious circle that dooms many poor nations to waste precious investments in science and technology on duplicative research of dubious quality. Scienti fic American's interviews with more than 40 scientists in 18 countries reveal that many believe poverty, cultural differences and a subtle prejudice against so-called Third World researchers combine to largely shut them out of major journals, important international conferences and critical databases.