24 October 2012

Open Access Week 2012: OA Archives

As promised, today's post looks at trends in "self-archiving," or the second strategy that authors can use to make their scholarly work Open Access.  Yesterday, I mentioned the recent study (Gargouri et al., 2012) that concluded that the overall growth in Open Access materials was largely due to self-archiving (or "green OA") rather than publishing in OA journals ("gold OA").  So are more forced migration researchers also depositing eprint versions of their journal articles in an institutional or disciplinary repository?

In 2010, I undertook a study of just one journal, the Journal of Refugee Studies (JRS), to determine to what extent authors self-archived.  Over a five-year period (2005-2009), I identified only one instance of an eprint.  I thought it might be interesting to see if more JRS authors had self-archived since that time, so I conducted searches on the titles of JRS articles and field reports published since 2010.  Again, only one eprint was identified!  (Although, as the original study also found, publisher PDFs invariably make their way online; this time, I located seven, mainly on author web sites.)

What about eprints of articles published in other journals?  An informal check of references on my blog identified as pre- or postprints turned up the following totals:
- 2009 = 5
- 2010 = 23
- 2011 = 31
- 2012 = 32

Not very big numbers, but at least a generally upward trend!  A majority of eprints that I happen to cite on my blog are deposited in the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and counting them is a very inexact science.  For example, I excluded working papers or conference papers, versions of which often end up as journal articles; moreover, authors may initially deposit eprints, but then replace them with the final article text at a later date.   Regardless, SSRN is definitely becoming better known in the forced migration sphere; it houses a sizable number of articles, working papers and eprints deposited by forced migration researchers, particularly in the legal arena, and it was even mentioned recently on UNHCR's Policy Development and Evaluation Service Facebook page!

That said, as the aforementioned study on green vs. gold OA notes, "spontaneous overall OA growth rate is still very slow (about 1% per year)" and "what is needed in order to maximize research access and impact is policies from researchers’ institutions and funders mandating Green OA self-archiving."  Tomorrow, I'll look at who self-archives and examine the role of institutional mandates.

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

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