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On the (in)visibility of green Open Access in Latin America

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The most important benefit for authors of publishing in Open Access is the increased visibility of their work. Theoretically, Open Access content can be read by anyone, anywhere in the world, while access to an article published in a conventional journal is limited to only some libraries, which can afford a subscription to that particular journal (and even the wealthiest libraries in the world do not subscribe all academic journals because it would be too expensive). This is why publishing your work in Open Access is a factor that increases your chances of gaining visibility and citations (more here). The advantages of openness are even more important for scientists working outside of wealthy countries, since there are less recognizable journals in low and moderate-income countries and libraries there subscribe on average to fewer journals.

Unfortunately, openness is not a sufficient condition for visibility. I wrote about this a few times on the blog and now another voice has joined the discussion. A paper by Enrique Orduña-Malea and Emilio Delgado López-Cózar – two researchers based in Spain, entitled “The dark side of Open Access in Google and Google Scholar: the case of Latin-American repositories” and submitted recently to ArXiv (arXiv:1406.4331v1 [cs.DL]), has shown that Open Access content placed in Latin American repositories is rarely indexed by Google or Google Scholar.

The authors argue that Google and Google Scholar are significant sources of information about scientific literature and their meaning is growing. “Researchers have gone from using library facilities and traditional search resources to using search engines; and that both Google and Google Scholar count among the preferred methods for locating information in academic journals”, they claim following the Ithaka report.

This is why it is increasingly important to know how to get indexed in Google Scholar and how to optimize your papers for search engines. Unfortunately the place of publication is also important.

According to the mentioned study, scientific content in Latin American repositories can disappear in chaos of the thousands of indexed pages. As they conclude:

“Given the weight of the green route in the dissemination of OA scholarly literature, and the importance of Google (and Google Scholar) to the search and use of academic information, the low visibility of the contents could significantly affect the real use of OA by end users. It would appear to be generating a great hidden mass of open access content, from institutional repositories, which neither Google, in the first instance, or users, in the last instance, can locate.”

This is why it is important to choose the place to publish a paper carefully. I think the best way to achieve visibility is to publish in the gold Open Access model – to have the primary version of your article accessible immediately for all people around the world. It is important to choose a journal that:

– uses non restrictive licensing (thus allows you to place your paper wherever you want)
– has a modern, well designed publishing platform
– uses DOI numbers
– is indexed by Google Scholar and a big number of other A&I services
– has a name relevant to the subject of your paper

For more tips have a look here, here and here.

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