Latin America has created and maintains a non-commercial infrastructure where scientific publications belong to the academic community and not to large publishers, and where the nature of publication is conceived as the act of making research publicly available and not as part of a commercial industry.
Each academic institution is part of an informal cooperative that finances journals with help from its faculty and publishes them in Open Access (OA), which means that everybody benefits from each other’s investment. This modus operandi has been successful for Latin America—even before the Open Access initiative got its official name from Budapest.
Redalyc is part of the regional OA ecosystem in Latin America that provides—for free— lots of complementary capabilities to journals that, in other parts of the world, are services supplied by commercial publishers. In this sense, Redalyc has offered, since 2003, journal evaluation and editorial professionalization to improve quality in publications, as well as technology aimed to increase visibility, interoperability and discoverability. More recently, it has published journals on the Semantic Web with structured content and enriched file formats like XML, ePUB, HTML5, or PDF to improve the accessibility and readability of scientific material. Today, Redalyc’s collection consists of more than half a million full-text articles from 1,300 journals published by 622 publisher institutions from 22 countries with more than 1.5 million authors.
Within the past 15 years, we have witnessed a substantial decline in the academic and open nature of this environment, where new contracts between commercial publishers and institutions have shifted funds away from institutions and weakened internal editorial teams. Many scientific evaluation systems—at national and institutional levels—were also transformed. Instead of assessing publications and researchers with custom strategies, institutions and national evaluation systems began adopting the Impact Factor (IF) from Web of Science and Scientific Journal Rankings (SJR) from Scopus as the only valid metrics.
Research assessment policies like these are harmful to science locally and to Open Access initiatives. The decision to publish an OA journal relies on the editor and the benefits they receive. There is no incentive to be OA or to be indexed by OA platforms like Redalyc, as journals budgets are constrained by the participation in Web of Science or Scopus.
DORA recommends that publishers “Greatly reduce emphasis on the journal impact factor as a promotional tool, ideally by ceasing to promote the impact factor or by presenting the metric in the context of a variety of journal-based metrics.” At Redalyc, we share DORA’s vision. We believe that to accelerate meaningful change, journals and publishing platforms should lead by example.
Many journals play a significant role in regional academic communication in Latin America. The research they publish has profound societal impacts that improve the quality of life in the local community. We fear these journals are at risk of disappearing, because their sustainability increasingly relies on where they are ranked within Web of Science or Scopus.
For that reason, Redalyc made an important decision: to add one more mandatory element to our criteria for a journal’s evaluation that explicitly requires signing DORA.
For Redalyc, it is important to value a journal based on its content rather than basing its impact only on citations; it is crucial that research results are assessed by their own merits and not by where they are published. We highly value publications that address local challenges, particularly in the social sciences and humanities.
We recognize —as a society—that access to research is not enough, it is necessary to think about sustainability to guarantee that science continues to be open, is evaluated fairly, and remains in the hands of the research community.
As a result of this strategy, we have received a great response! In a few days, more than 200 journal editors from Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and more have signed DORA, and we received a positive reaction from the community. We thank all journal editors for being a key part of this process. We are confident that together we will continue strengthening Open Access and scholarly journals integrated to global science but in a non-subordinate way.
For more information about #RedalycSuppportsDORA please read the press release here.
Arianna Becerril-Garcia, PhD, is the Executive Director of Redalyc and a Professor at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico.
Guest blog posts reflect the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of DORA.