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Facultad de Ciencias Sociales

Dr. Francisco Osorio, Journal Editor:

Open Library of Humanities: mega journals seeing from the south

Dr. Francisco Osorio.

Dr. Francisco Osorio.

PLoS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/), today's the biggest journal on earth.

PLoS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/), today's the biggest journal on earth.

So my question, as a journal editor from the south, is what to do. Should we create mega journals? Is open access the way forward? Should we continue to write in Spanish and disconnect ourselves from the English language? Is Google watching us?

March 2013 is a very interesting month for publishing in the academic world. Martin Eve on The Guardian published an article about his project: the Open Library of Humanities. If he's right, it could be a PLOS-like revolution for social sciences and humanities. Before describing in more detail the idea, also in March the journal Nature published a special issue about "The future of publishing". In February this year, president Obama administration said that if a research paper is funding by the US government, then it has to be open access. In the UK, from April this year (although discussions began earlier) the same rule applies for all publishing coming from public money. The journal FQS - Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research also published in March a selection of articles and documents about open access journals through its mailing list.

My question is what we can learn from current trends in academic publishing from the north, while being in the south. In the Social Science Faculty (FACSO) at University of Chile we don't have journals indexed in Web of Science nor in Scopus. We have only one journal in a south driven project called SciELO (www.scielo.org) that could remain unnoticed to the north. My fear is that we could be preparing to run a marathon that, by the time we get there, has changed its route.

Let us be clear, we hardly exist for the international scientific community. We don't write in English most of the time, our journals are not indexed in the two big ones and we put hardly any money at all in our journals. According to the Chilean Commission for Scientific and Technological Research in 2010 Chilean journals published 0.3% of the world total articles (considering all Chilean journals). That figure came from a Scopus database, so our FACSO journals don't even count in there.

So what we can do. We could copy the current journal model of the periodicals we admire the most. The problem is that the model is under heavy fire by a new species: the mega journals. In 2006 was born PLoS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/), today's the biggest journal on earth: in 2012 published 23,464 articles. It charges about US$ 1,350 to authors (price varies) and accepts about 70% of articles (after peer review). Far more interesting is PeerJ. It charges US$ 299 per author to publish an unlimited number of papers for life. 

Those mega journals remained unnoticed for the social sciences partly because they were design for the natural sciences, until now. Thanks to Martin Eve, lecturer in English Literature at the University of Lincoln, now we have it: OLH (https://www.openlibhums.org/).

So the new words for us are: open access, mega journals, gold open access, and green open access, among others. Old words are ISI (today's Web of Science) and restricted access (where you have to pay to read articles).

So my question, as a journal editor from the south, is what to do. Should we create mega journals? Is open access the way forward? Should we continue to write in Spanish and disconnect ourselves from the English language? Is Google watching us?

We have great academics in Chile and some of the best social scientists are in this Faculty (not me). We have the same technology for publishing journals and, possibly, some resources from the government. Therefore, is up to us to remain as an audience or to fully engage in this conversation. 

 

fosorio@u.uchile.cl

Viernes 5 de abril de 2013

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