The Clash of the Titans: Open Access Repositories vs. Traditional Peer-reviewed Journals

Added by Branwen Hide on 01 October 2008 11:30

Scholarly communications is integral to expanding the boundaries of knowledge and understanding.

Over the last few years, the scholarly communication system has undergone a number of fundamental changes, as researchers, publishers and librarians have embraced new technologies, and novel developments associated with the Internet, such as Web 2.0. Not only has there been a push towards open access publishing (e.g. Biomed Central and the Public Library of Science)but there has also been a move to open access repositories, which tend to be institutional but can also be subject based and OpenDOAR offers a comprehensive directory of academic open access repositories world wide.

It is often assumed that open access repositories and traditional peer-reviewed journals are in competition with each other and coexistence in the long term will be impossible. However empirical evidence suggests this is not necessarily the case. Edwin Henneken et al. (as referenced in Pinfield 2007, Serials, 20(3) p163),showed that the usage of material in the arXiv repository (a subject specific repository mainly used by physics, mathematics, computer science and quantitative biology disciplines) was primarily concentrated to the period prior to formal publication of the journal article. However once the article is formally published, largely the usage switches to the journal site. Yet despite this evidence, when practitioners are asked about the role of repositories and peer-reviewed journals the opinions are divided and the question of a long-term future remains. Mapping possible future models of scholarly communications and including the roles of repositories may provide a useful framework for this discussion.  

Recently the RIN published Activities, costs and funding flows in scholarly communications , which set out to utilise the best available sources of information, on the cost and funding flows of the specific components of the scholarly communications system to develop of a model that allowed us to construct estimates covering the system as a whole. This model also allows us to make various assumptions and monitor the economic affect these changes may have on the cost and funding flows of scholarly communications.

As a follow up to the report, we are organising a half-day event What does it cost and who pays?: Scholarly communications globally and in the UK, in December 2008 to present/develop additional/alternative publishing models and to encourage people to think about using the model to examine the economic impact of these alternatives, as well as adding to the current knowledge of scholarly communications. If you would be interested in finding out more about the event and about the report please contact me, Branwen Hide , Liaison and Partnership Officer.

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