NECOBELAC project to improve scientific writing and open access publishing in public health

Final results and hints from a cross national activity (2009-2012)

Paola De Castro on behalf of the NECOBELAC working group*

NECOBELAC (NEtwork of COllaboration between Europe and Latin America and Caribbean countries) is a project funded by the European Commission within the 7thFramework program (Science in Society) in the period February 2009 – July 2012. The project partners belong to academic and scientific institutions in Europe and Latin America (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy; The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom; Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain; BIREME, PAHO/WHO, Brazil; Instituto de Salud Pública, Colombia; Universidade do Minho, Portugal).

The main objectives of the NECOBELAC project were:

  1. To improve scientific writing.
  2. To create awareness of open access publishing.
  3. To establish durable collaborations among academic and scientific institutions from European and Latin American countries in the field of public health.

The main actions to achieve these goals were:

  1. Development and implementation of a two-level training  strategy  including courses for trainers (T1)  and local training replication activities (T2).
  2. Development and implementation of innovative training tools (NECOBEALC topic maps) to be utilized in the training activities above.
  3. Development and implementation of a network of  health institutions and ICT supporting systems  in Europe and Latin America to support the training activity, promote health information dissemination and stimulate new research collaboration on specific public health topics.

Training, promotional and support material was produced in four languages, English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, to promote a European–Latin American bi-directional approach, meet local needs, and facilitate local activities, while recognizing English as the language of scientific communication.

The results of the three year NECOBELAC project activity will be presented.

  1. Training activity
    8 courses for trainers  were held (4 in Europe and  4 in Latin America) giving rise to over 36 replication activities, including training courses, workshops, lectures and individual training).
  2. Training tools
    Topic maps on scientific writing and open access publishing were developed using semantic web technologies which associate and interconnect topics in a flexible and modular way. NECOBELAC topic maps are available online in the four project  languages. They  include a short text for all topics, as well as schemes, links to online resources and suggestions for discussion. Leaflets, guides for trainers and other training support material were produced in print and online.
  3. Network of collaboration
    A network of over 200 institutions from 16 countries in  Europe and Latin America has been established. The network supported the training activities developed during  the project period and will continue to support training after the project termination. New research collaborations were forged among institutions within the network, in particular in environmental epidemiology, pediatric pharmacology, rare diseases, environmental health and climate change.

Dissemination activities comprised national and international conferences and social networks, including a project newsletter, and articles published in national and international journals and newsletters to spread information on the project activity and develop the network.
All publications and promotional material, as well as  training material (including topic maps and Powerpoint presentations) and contacts for the NECOBELAC community are available via the project website (

*NECOBELAC working group

Paola De Castro, Daniela Marsili, Elisabetta Poltronieri (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy);
Bill Hubbard (The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom);
Reme Melero (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain) and Alicia López Medina (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain);
Alessandro Tardelli (BIREME, PAHO/WHO, Brazil);
Carlos Agudelo Calderón (Instituto de Salud Pública, Colombia);
Eloy Rodrigues (Universidade do Minho, Portugal).