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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Recent research in open access publishing

By Diana Hodge

Publishing articles in OA journals is now a firmly established practice in academia. Most articles are still published in the mainstream commercial titles but OA has carved a niche for itself. The advent of OA publishing doesn’t seem to have provided much relief to university libraries who still pay enormous subscription costs to publishers for journal access but it has at least made some research content available free of costs to the end user.

Ramesh Pandita (2013) looks at the global growth in OA journals over the last ten years by analysing data taken from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Pandita finds huge growth: 34 OA journals in production in 2002, growing to 8518 in 2012. Perhaps unsurprisingly the US leads the world in the number of OA journals it produces and in the number of new OA journals it creates each year. Brazil comes in second with Australia 18th on the list with 123 OA journals, 1.44% of the world total.

It’s not just the number of journals increasing but the number of countries getting into OA publishing that is also growing rapidly; 9 countries in 2002 and up to 121 in 2012. Pandita draws a parallel between the strength of a countries OA publishing and its economic development suggesting that the freely available intellectual content is being used by the countries citizens to drive development.

Pandita paints a positive picture of OA progress but how findable is OA journal content? The research carried out by Joel Cummings (2013) suggests it might actually be more accessible to those outside the university environment who are searching freely on the web than to those inside institutions who are searching through aggregators. Cummings looks at the indexing of OA scholarly journals by three multidisciplinary full-text aggregation databases, Ebscohost Academic Search Complete, Gale Onefile and Proquest 5000 International. Data from the Journal Citation Reports (published by Thomson Reuters) was used to indicate the significance of these OA journals.

The results of Cummings investigations showed that very small percentages of open access journals were indexed in each of the full-text aggregators studied. A total of 7.9 percent of titles included in journal citation reports were OA journals, this might not be much but it is a 303.8 percent increase from the 2.6 percent reported in a 2003 study (McVeigh, cited in Cummings 2013, p. 173).

Ebscohost indexed 1,656 OA journals, that is, 25.7 percent of all the OA journals included in the DOAJ, while Proquest indexed 340 OA journals, 5.3 percent of titles in DOAJ, and Gale indexed 163, 2.5 percent of titles in DOAJ. Most were available in full-text and the majority were in English. Cummings also finds that there are more OA journals at lower rankings than at higher rankings being indexed by the three aggregators.

Cummings concludes that researchers who search outside these aggregators may have access to a greater range of OA journals; that is via either the library’s discovery layer or internet search engines…why do we always end up back at Google?.

To sum up both articles – there is more OA material available than ever before but it is not necessarily getting easier to find.

References  - both available in fulltext in ALIA Proquest Journals package.

CUMMINGS, J., 2013. Open access journal content found in commercial full-text aggregation databases and journal citation reports. New Library World, 114(3), pp. 166-178.

PANDITA, R., 2013. Growing Trend towards Open Access Publishing at Global Level: An Analysis of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). International Research: Journal of Library and Information Science, 3(3), pp.565 – 578.

This article was first published in Incite 

Dr Diana Hodge, Manager Academic Library Services, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University of south Australia.

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