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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The knowledge web
Article Type: Editorial From: Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Volume 13, Issue 2.
One of the privileges of being a journal editor is having the opportunity to review the frequency and geographical location of electronic access to papers published in the journal.
On-line access to Clinical Governance began in 2001 with a barely noticeable trickle. By 2008 this trickle has turned into a river with ten times the number of papers being downloaded than are distributed by paper.
The list of most-downloaded papers provides a useful insight about what sort of articles people want to read. There are not big surprises - papers that are popular with electronic readers tend to have an emphasis on common priorities in clinical governance such as infection control, communication, safety or professional change. However it does provide a useful barometer of popularity.
In addition to information about the type of papers that readers want, the downloads also provide a good perspective on where in the world our readers are based. When the journal was first published in 1996, most of the circulation was in the UK reflecting the origins of the concept of clinical governance. However electronic access has changed this parochialism. These days North America, Asia and Australasia are zooming up the download charts.
To promote a more global view of clinical governance we have encouraged submission of papers from international contributors, and have for some time had a North American perspective from David Birnbaum and his colleagues. This issue sees the introduction of an Australasian perspective with the start of a regular column from Allan Spigelman who is the Clinical Associate Dean at the University of New South Wales.
Access to papers on the web is a great boost to dissemination of evidence and knowledge. However it also reinforces the digital divide for those who have good access to the internet and those who do not. Only 1 per cent of articles are downloaded in African countries. This unequal distribution of knowledge will inevitably undermine global efforts to improve quality and safety.
One way of addressing this inequality is to promote low cost access and it is a reassuring to know that our publishers are working with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (www.inasp.info) to achieve this goal. We hope to further strengthen links with developing countries by dedicating one of our future issues to clinical governance in developing countries. If you are reading these words on-line in a low income country, then please contact us with your ideas or contributions for such an issue.