Road ahead:
the future is open

Academia is entering a brave new era – old systems, politics and cultures are, inevitably, giving way to the all-encompassing digital age.

Consequently, fresh prospects are gaining traction, many of which invite new opportunities for a more cohesive, global, connected and – above all – inclusive research landscape.

Open access

At the heart of these changes is ‘open access’ – peer-reviewed research (typically journal articles and books) that is published online and is free for all to view. This is potentially the greatest cultural shift in the research arena since the mainstream emergence of the computer 50 years ago.

In an era where different perspectives are becoming increasingly essential, the synergy between ‘open’ and inclusivity could become a game changer. In the race for solutions to, for example, renewable energy, sustainable housing, food shortages and, yes, pandemic threats, the natural inclusivity which comes from open access could prove the spark that creates the fire of change throughout global communities.

Open discussion: where we go from here

Throughout the survey ‘open’ was a recurring subject – and a clear signpost for a more inclusive world. The following themes emerged:

Promote the benefits of related research and its impact in the real world by removing paywalls that limit the number of people who can access the research.

Deliver economically sustainable opportunities for publication to wider audiences.

Provide equally accessible knowledge to everyone, thereby achieving a globally inclusive society.

Help create a self-sustaining research ecosystem by providing more access to research results for fellow researchers.

Give everyone access to information, communication and publications, triggering the growth of knowledge and quality of human life globally.

Share research results, not only among universities, but all decision makers.

Make research easily accessible, with open access to research and educational resources and free access to publications.

Increase academic inclusion, which will encourage more research funding, open access to academic knowledge and traverse cultural academic activities.

Opt for a change of vision, from the mere monetisation of results to a more conscious and responsible sharing of knowledge.

What further change is required

Beyond open access, respondents were clear that a raft of changes would be required within academia to accelerate inclusivity. In their verbatim responses to the question, ‘What in your opinion is the biggest single thing that needs to change in order to achieve a globally inclusive society by 2030?’, the most significant themes to emerge, as outlined in previous sections, were:

  • Academic culture
  • More funding
  • Impact focused
  • Collaboration
  • Inclusivity within publishing

In addition to the shift needed within academia, respondents called for these broader changes:

  • Education for all
  • Policy making in favour of inclusivity
  • Poverty reduction
  • Change in attitudes and mindsets
  • Greater public awareness of inclusivity
  • Diversification

More thoughts from our respondents on these themes

Education for all

'Cheap and quality education for all – in Brazil, we need to value more the teaching profession (teachers are not well trained, and recognition, especially salary and benefits are not fair).'

Female researcher, Brazil

'Education needs to be made accessible to the remotest corners of the globe. Also, research should form part of early education in schools.'

Male researcher, India

'Education for all so that income inequality can be reduced. If it happens, an inclusive society will be a reality.'

Male faculty, India

'Expand availability and accessibility of education to everyone in the world.'

Male faculty, USA

'The educational levels and quality of education of the general populace in every society on this planet.'

Male faculty, USA

Policymaking in favour of inclusivity

'Government attitudes and how this translates into policy and governance.'

Male consultant, Australia

'More open policy discussions between nations as well as between regions.'

Female researcher, Finland

'Policymaking towards inclusion that therefore steers social conscience on the issue.'

Female student, Greece

'Drastic policy interventions by the relevant authorities.'

Male faculty, South Africa

'Government policy - not just words, but implementation and action.'

Female Head of Department, UK

Poverty reduction

'Address poverty and unemployment in the developing world countries.'

Male Head of Department, Cameroon

'Multidimensional poverty reduction.'

Male faculty, Greece

'Commitment to working hard to addressing all forms of poverty, which is the world's largest challenge and an indispensable requirement for the globally inclusive society and sustainable development.'

Male, Iraq

'Poverty reduction.  This is the single greatest common thread to global vulnerability and absence of equity.'

Male faculty, USA

'Poverty. If poverty cannot be addressed, then equitable treatment for all cannot be established.'

Female researcher, USA

Change in attitudes & mindsets

'Attitudes of large-scale corporate players that often lobby for less inclusive policies.'

Female Head of Department, Lithuania

'The opinion and attitude of publishers from a point of competition to learning to change the world to a better place that is impacting in all fields.'

Female researcher, Kenya

'Open mindedness; people need to see things from different perspectives and not theirs only.'

Male faculty, Australia

'Ingrained cultural attitudes that lead individuals and groups to racism and discrimination towards the 'other' (i.e. towards people / groups different from ourselves)'

Female Research Manager, Australia

'Change mindset and attitudes towards underprivileged in society.'

Male Head of Department, Ghana

Greater awareness of inclusivity

'Generating awareness and incentivising action.'

Female faculty, India

'Greater awareness of the effects of implicit bias and the impact that has on attitudes and behaviours.'

Male Head of Department, Canada

'More awareness across the globe as regarding society inclusive. More research could be channelled towards society inclusive.'

Male researcher, Canada

'Creating the public awareness and practical benefits of cultural diversity.'

Male Malaysia, Head of Department

'Eliminate personal biases through heightened awareness and knowledge of effects of marginalisation on people. Increase awareness and knowledge on the talents of marginalised groups and these can be harnessed for social development.'

Female, Head of Department, Philippines


'More diverse teams, not the older, the better.'

Female researcher, Austria

'Full recognition, backed by research, that diverse teams that practice inclusion are far more effective than homogeneous teams or diverse teams that are not inclusive.'

Female consultant, USA

'Those who are in charge of reviewing and accepting papers need to represent more diverse knowledges and they need to redefine academic writing to incorporate different formats, languages, methods, and not be so rigid.'

Female student, USA

'Diversify workplace. Diversify academia. Diversify editorial and review boards.'

Male researcher, China

'More diverse groups included into decision-making process in academia and more broadly scientific environment (including publishing industry).'

Female researcher, Poland

What's in the report?

The report contains an introduction and 9 sections; use the grid below to navigate, or click to go to the next section.

Final analysis

Through the barricades: establishing barriers to inclusivity

Go to section

Breaking good: taking down the walls of academia

Go to section

Driving inclusivity: responsibilities within academic research

Go to section

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