New publishing models for scholarly communication and the Brazilian open access policy

Sely M. S. Costa, Universidade de Brasília; Hélio Kuramoto, Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia


High prices of journal subscriptions, which have triggered the exhaustively discussed crisis of scholarly journals, made information access very limited. Within this context, information access has been a great challenge to developing countries such as Brazil. Although such crisis had started in the middle 80’s, there is not a definitive solution hitherto. Nevertheless, new information and communication technologies have provided emerging alternatives for the scholarly communication. One that deserves mention is concerned with the standards established by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), which defines a model of interoperability for digital collections, including electronic journals, institutional repositories and digital libraries, amongst others.

Within this context, this paper aims to provide a picture of the Brazilian initiatives with open access journals and conferences over the last four years using both Open Journal System (OJS) and Open Conference System (OCS) as their platform, respectively. Based on the study of the scholarly communication process and the impacts brought about by the use of information technologies, the paper focuses on the adoption of a national information policy concerned with the open access movement and implemented by the Brazilian Institute of Information on Science and Technology (Ibict afterwards). In this sense, the work reported comprises the assessment of a number of initiatives with OJS (more then 150 journals created and maintained so far) and a few others with OCS (around six conferences or so). Moreover, it points out the achievements of a technology transfer programme implemented by Ibict in order to have the academic community involved with open access publishing models, methodologies and tools. Besides this national approach, the paper slightly comments on alemplus, an acronym that stands for “open access in Portuguese speaking countries”, a programme that aims to join efforts within this whole community and to expand the Brazilian and Portuguese initiatives already implemented.

It is interesting to note that journals and conferences are only part of the Brazilian policy, which includes the development of institutional and discipline repositories as well, using mostly MIT DSpace as their platform, though there are a few initiatives using Southampton E-prints. The focus of this paper on OJS and OCS is, in truth, because of the conference theme yet it is highly justified because of the enormous benefits these two software packages have brought to the Brazilian community. The approach adopted to look at these issues is the one defined as the green and golden roads or, in other words, the Open Access Archiving and Open Access Publishing models, as it seems to be a useful way of analysing the role played by Ibict’s information policy. Accordingly, initiatives carried out in Brazil represent new publication models for the scholarly literature and are consistent with a worldwide tendency that has gradually expanded over the last decade.

As elements of a so-called ‘open philosophy’, Brazilian initiatives resultant of the national information policy as well as some spontaneous initiatives embrace the use of open software, the orientation of the open access policy and the adoption of the open archives initiative model. Consequently, both the green road (authors’ self-archiving of refereed published material), implemented through institutional (mostly universities) repositories, and the golden road (guaranteed by electronic journals), are taking place in Brazil.

The challenging perspective is to implement a control quality system in order for journals (and, very likely, repositories) to take part in the, a Brazilian service provider that harvests journals metadata, giving access to their entire content. This, in turn, shall complement the technology transfer programme adopted by Ibict, which is concerned with customizing all those cited software, training developers, journal editors and librarians, distributing tool kits to them as data providers and consistently disseminating the open philosophy throughout the country. This paper, therefore, aims to provide a well-built picture of the Brazilian national information policy as the strategy that has made possible to implement new scholarly publishing models, highlighting the role played by Public Knowledge Project in the open access initiatives taking place in the country so far.

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