Tuesday, 4 May 2010

non anglophone open access

In the anglophone world, the move to open access (and or online publication - the two are not synonyms although they are often treated as if they are) is often seen as a way of breaking the monopoly of academic publishers over scholarly publication and hence reducing the operating costs of libraries, as well as having the by product of increasing access to scholarly communication, given that electronic distribution is effectively free (it isn't, but the cost of a webserver, a copy of eprints and some poor RA's time to look after it make it considerably cheaper to do, especially if all or part is funded on the user pays model).

So far so good. And we also all recognise that the flaw in argument that the established journals are seen to carry more weight, and consequently, in the points means prizes culture of academic publishing and bibliometrics, researchers are not going to want to publish in an online open access journal if they can get in to the Journal of Very Important Things.

However, lets say that you publish in French, in a French language journal. The publication costs are higher due to the smaller subscriber base and the impact is less, well, because it's in French.

Consequently your publications are not going to be as highly ranked as publications in English in the same field, which risks condemning your research to obscurity. And not just French, Publish in German, Spanish, Portugese or Russian and you face the same problems.

Open access/online publication works for you, especially if you provide an english language abstract, simply because search engines are agnostic as to source, but instead rank order on the number of referring links. If your field is not well known, everything is probably fairly flat and equal, meaning that the english language abstract of a paper on byzantine pot assemblages is as likely to be found as a paper in english on the same subject, ie it gets your research out there, and as a consequence increase its apparent worth.

So it's not surprising to see that open access (and multilingual open access at that) is alive and well in France, with sites such as revues.org operating to publicise new work and content.

One question for us in Australia and New Zealand though is, that if we go open access, do we drop off the publications map, and do we then need a similar initiative to publicise our research?

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