Spotlight on Serials: Current & Future Trends in Open Access in Latin America

Facade of a building in the classical style
National Library of Argentina. Photo by verovera78 on Flickr.

The ALCTS Continuing Resource Section (CRS) Forum took place at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 24. The session, titled “Spotlight on Serials: Current and Future Trends in Open Access in Latin America,” featured Ivonne Lujano, ambassador of Open Access Journals in Latin America, and Solange Santos, publishing coordinator at Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO). Lujano spoke about the history of open access in Latin America, best practices and standards in publishing, and how the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) improves scholarly research on a global scale. Santos spoke about the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) and why Latin America is advanced in its use of an open access publishing model.

Ivonne Lujano began by stating that most journals in Latin America do not have fees and follow the Declaration of Salvador on open access. Research and development are mainly funded by government and public institutions. However, in recent years, cuts to funding are creating a crisis, which could negatively impact open access publishing.

Lujano identified four main platforms used in Latin America. The Regional Cooperative Online Information System for Scholarly Journals from Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal (Latindex) began in 1995 and is managed by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) began in 1998 with the partnership between Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) and Latin American and Caribbean Center in Health Sciences Information. Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y El Caribe, España y Portugal (Redalyc), began in 2003 and is managed by the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEM). Federated Network of Institutional Repositories of Scientific Publications (LA Referencia), began in 2012 with the Acuerdo de Cooperación Regional – Acta de Buenos Aires que constituye LA Referencia.

She then discussed how the current climate of waning government and public funds is affecting open access in Latin America today. Open access platforms must not only look for funding from other venues, but they also face other challenges and barriers such as ill-informed editors, low quality journals, fake indexes, and the article processing charge (APC). To continue to grow open access publishing these platforms work to show the importance of science research in Latin American by connecting academics to practitioners.

Next, Santos talked about how SciELO is working to improve open access. Driven by national and regional interests, SciELO was born from a need to make visible the scientific research in Latin America. Santos talked about how the article “Lost science in the third world,” written by W. Wayt Gibbs in 1995, revealed that developing countries are not often recognized for their scientific work. The SciELO publishing model was created with the intent to address this problem. It began in Brazil in March of 1998, four years before open access and the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Soon Chile adopted SciELO, followed by other Latin American countries.

Santos emphasized that while the model that SciELO follows is based on the national conditions and priorities of each country, the collections adhere to the same objectives, principles, and functions. She then identified four priorities of SciELO for the next four years: professionalization, internationalization, sustainability, and alignment with open science. These were created to address different challenges to open access. One way that SciELO faces these challenges is by encouraging journals to publish articles under the Creative Commons attribution license. The SciELO Network includes journals in both various fields of sciences and humanities and there is also a growing number of English-language articles since 1998. In Brazil, being part of SciELO represents a quality seal. This quality seal ensures that research published in SciELO is equivalent to those published in international journals.

Santos concluded her presentation by highlighting the effort SciELO is taking to democratize and increase the global flow of scientific knowledge in Latin America through its recent partnership with the Global Alliance of Open Access Scholarly Communication Platforms (GLOAAL).

Two questions were asked during the question-and-answer time following the presentations. The first focused on barriers for publishers from participating in DOAJ. Education about open access for editors is the primary barrier. The second question was if search functionality could be added to search by affiliation or co-author. While the functionality for this does not exist, the deeper problem is that both publishers and authors need to be educated in what “affiliation” means. Also, a unique identifier like an ORCID or a similar URI would also be beneficial as institutions have many different forms of name.

This article was written by Charlene Morrison with contributions from Nathan Putnam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.