Web access to social science journals in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean - the case of CLACSO´s network

Dominique Babini

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Even if there exist great differences among countries of Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean, those countries share problems which need input from local and regional social science research in support of policy making, community actions, comparative research and university studies and teaching.

The traditional system for dissemination of research results in printed publications has limited impact because of low average of copies printed for academic publications, prohibitive costs of regular mail to distribute printed publications, and lack of library budget to update social science collections.

This is why the use ICT (information and communication technologies) provides an opportunity to change the way and time in which social science research results are transmitted to the scholarly and academic world and to society at large to ensure a reasonably effective dissemination of research results in the region, even if the process of democratization of Internet access is still very slow.

CLACSO, Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, is a forty years old academic network gathering more than 180 university and ngo´s social science research centers and graduate programs in 21 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. These institutions are increasingly using the digital formats of their journals to accelerate dissemination of research results using the Web. This presentation describes how these social science institutions in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean are experimenting with those diverse options to make their journals available in the Web: a simple promotion in the Web of the printed journal, or including the table of contents, with or without abstracts, some articles available online in full-text, or the complete printed journal available full-text in the institutional website and/or in regional portals. These portals are described, with emphasis in services provided by CLACSO´s portal.

Since 1998 CLACSO has developed a portal using an open source virtual library software promoted by Unesco. This open access virtual library allows advanced search in metadata and in the full-text of journals, books, working documents and theses (www.clacso.org.ar/biblioteca/ingles). It started as a centralized virtual library and now is in a transition to becoming a network of social science virtual libraries updated by a working group of editors and librarians of CLACSO´s network in 21 countries of the region. The presentation describes activities undertaken by members and services provided by CLACSO´s central office: training, technical support and statistics so that each institution can have Web access to the general statistics (more than 100.000 visitors and 500.000 text requests each month) and to the individual statistics for each publication of their collection within this network of virtual libraries.

This program receives support from CLACSO member institutes, the Swedish government (SIDA) and the Norwegian government (NORAD).

"Nordic support to CLACSO's Área de Información has revolutionized access to important research materials across a variety of different fields, opening a window onto Latin American social science for researchers, activists and public officials"
External evaluation of CLACSO (ASDI, 2005)

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