Editorial policy

HRWeb Editorial Policy v2.0
Health Research Web (HRWeb) is a web-based information and management platform and, as a means to that end, also an online community of people interested in building a high-quality information and management system in a spirit of mutual respect. HRWeb's primary focus is on enabling all who work for health, equity and development through research to find, use and share information needed to achieve their goals.

Therefore, there are certain things that HRWeb is not or does not do:
  • HRWeb does not publish original research or inventions. Information on the pages will grow using information that can be referenced to an original source.
  • HRWeb does not encourage personal essays and opinions – other than comments on existing information provided through the discussion functions.
  • HRWeb is also not a platform for dissemination of propaganda, advocacy, recruitment, opinion pieces, scandal mongering, self-promotion or advertising.
  • HRWeb does not intend to be a repository of hyperlinks (although some can be used), public domain information housed elsewhere, images or media files. The user should not use HRWeb pages as a storage facility – keep in mind, that people with low bandwidth internet access need to use this as well – so, keep it light!
  • HRWeb is not censored – but has reserved spaces. HRWeb has information pages – those that are completed by governments, research institutions, research ethics committees, civil-society organisations, and many more. The basic information on such pages is provided by the institution, organisation or government concerned under a registration agreement with COHRED/HRWeb. In this manner, official information can be displayed, viewed, downloaded and printed as provided. 
However, all users have the right to engage in discussions on the information provided, or, in a way similar to 'wikipedia', develop pages with specific information or on specific topics that relate to health research for development in countries or regions or even globally. The discussion pages on all information provided are available from the time that HRWeb is activated … the facility to create specific topic pages will be added soon after. 
For this reason, HRWeb may contain content that is not true or that some readers consider objectionable or offensive. Anyone can comment on such information through the 'discussion function' and changes made are displayed immediately, HRWeb cannot, however, guarantee that articles or images will always be acceptable to all users. On the other hand, "being objectionable" is generally not in itself sufficient grounds for removal of specific content. 
Should content be removed, this will be done by the HRWeb Editorial Board and this will be reflected with decisions on the editorial pages of HRWeb. A discussion page will allow further discussion to take place after removal. 
Obviously inappropriate content, such as irrelevant links, knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, racist, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or content otherwise violating any law or good manners will be removed.
  • HRWeb is also not an anarchy: HRWeb is free and open (except for reserved spaces), but restricts both freedom and openness where these interfere with creating a platform to promote health, equity and development – particularly in low income countries and populations. Accordingly, HRWeb is not a forum for unregulated free speech.
The fact that Wikipedia is an open and (mostly) self-governing project does not mean that any part of its purpose is to encourage anarchy. In contrast, HRWeb intends to be the most complete and useful resource to increase the impact of research on health – and does so by encouraging all who are interested to provide the best and most accurate information in a spirit of support for this aim.
There are also certain things that HRWebis not yet or does not yet do – but that will be developed in the near future:
  • HRWeb intends to develop a social networking space – through the lens of low and middle income countries – through which all who are interested in health, equity and development through research in a particular country or region can increase collaboration and exchange.
Independence and transparency of HRWeb decisions on removing data and mechanism for an evolving policy in line with an evolving platform and growing user-base.
 COHRED has appointed an Editorial Board for Health Research Web whose role is to ensure that decisions related to removing content from HRWebpages are taken in a manner that is transparent and can be discussed. 
The Board's chair is Yunkap Kwankam, who joined HRWeb in July 2009. Jointly, we will expand the board membership to ensure that there are sufficient members from low & middle and high income countries and from the various constituencies that are or will be using HRWeb. COHRED will be a member of this Board, but will not have a majority and will abide by its decisions – which will be listed on appropriate HRWeb pages and can become a focus for comment from HRWeb.
An additional role is to channel questions posed by HRWeb users to the right staff or members of the editorial board.
The role of the Editorial Board includes reflection on the future development of HRWeb, and this includes not only technical development but also functionality and focus. 
COHRED also appoints 'country editors' – people who are residents of countries about which information appears, and who will assist in validation of information provided. Country editors cannot change information given on 'reserved sites' but can add their comments on the discussion pages. Furthermore, the country editors receive immediate notification of changes to their country pages and can inform COHRED about correctness. Should a country editor have serious problems with information provided on a country page, they can approach the Editorial Board and suggest removal. Ideally, each country will have three country editors – one representing a government point of view, one a research or academic institution, and one a view from civil society. People interested in becoming a country editor can indicate their interest to the HRWeb team. [becoming a country-reviewer]


Health Research Web: editing information on HRWeb
HRWeb is a global platform that will contain information contributed by thousands of editors and users. Each brings something different to the table: researching skills, technical expertise, writing ability, pieces of information, or, most importantly, a willingness to help. Even the best article should not be considered complete; each new contributor offers new insights about how to further enhance content. 
A few sections will have limited editing possibilities – the 'reserved spaces.'  These sections provide governmental, institutional or other information that needs to be under the control of an issuing authority. However, even such information can be supplemented using the discussion pages attached to these research spaces.
  • HRWeb is work in progress: the more its pages are used, the better the information becomes. HRWeb is a process – not a product, nor an event! 


Immediate perfection is not required as a start. Like the 'wikipedia', HRWeb is built on the assumption that contributions from across the globe will result in accurate information and well-written articles and – over time – become a preferred reference for research systems for health in particular countries, regions or continents.

Even poorly written 'discussions' and incomplete information provided as a first input can be improved through the continuing inputs of interested parties and institutions.
HRWeb launched its interactive phase on 31 August, 2009, and now allows people and institutions with 'editing rights' to access and edit information in 'reserved spaces.' Anyone else can comment on information contained here through the discussion pages, but can not change information. 
During 2010, however, a further facility will open in HRWeb which will allow users to become editors of certain information on HRWeb – very similar to the way Wikipedia works.
  • signing your comments and contributions: you will only be able to use the discussion pages once you have signed in. This information is confidential, but it will allow HRWeb to identify you as a user, assign you certain editing privileges and follow your contributions to HRWeb. Your HRWeb 'signature' becomes your identity on HRWeb.
We are indebted to Wikipedia for providing the inspiration for HRWeb as an interactive tool. We have also liberally used Wikipedia's editorial policies as a guide for developing the editorial policies of HRWeb.