The lacking visibility of Open Access journals and repositories from the Global South, such as Asian countries, in international directories, e.g., DOAJ, can be due to the hurdles for the implementation of best practices they encounter, which limits access to knowledge, while indicating that university, publisher and funder partnerships can contribute to capacity building and academic quality in the journal publishing market around the world.
A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.
In their scholarly article published on May 31, 2017, Abrizah, Noorhidawati and Kiran have analyzed the presence of Asia-based Open Access institutional repositories in the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) and the Ranking Web of World Repositories (RWWR) based on 2010 data. Their primary conclusion is that Asian repositories are under-represented in international rankings and directories, even though Asian highly-ranked universities have not been found to be spearheading the adoption of Open Access policies, as has been happening around the world, which could be correlated with a limited allocation of financial resources.
At the same time, between 2010 and 2018 the number of Asian Open Access repositories listed in the OpenDOAR has increased from approximately 191 to circa 722 respectively. Moreover, in terms of country-level repository statistics based on figures from October 2018, at present Japan (n=217, 30.8%) has the most Open Access repositories, followed by India (n=79, 11.2%), Turkey (n=76, 10.8%), Indonesia (n=69, 9.8%), Taiwan (n=60, 8.5%), China (n=40, 5.7%), South Korea (n=34, 4.8%), and Malaysia (n=22, 3.1%). At the same time, the global ranking data of the RWWR from August 2018 based on the meta-data derived from Google Scholar records indicate that China National Knowledge Infrastructure (n=18,800,000) has, by a wide margin, the first place in terms of the approximate number of items its repository stores, whereas Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator Electronic J-STAGE (n=4,050,000) is a distant second followed by ResearchGate (n=3,420,000), Europe PubMed Central (n=2,650,000), and Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (n=1,550,000).
Other than indicating that in China Open Access repositories are highly concentrated around a country-level pre- or postprint server, which is also apparently the case for Japan, these more recent data also suggest that Asian universities experience long-standing barriers in relation to setting up independent Open Access repositories and launching Open Access journals. This could be due to financial constraints, the lacking economic sustainability of the models on which these repositories are based and an insufficient application of best practices that can ensure quality and visibility of Open Access repositories and journals. More broadly, this could apply to academic institutions hailing from the Global South, where Open Access journals may be experiencing difficulties with implementing quality standards that ensure the inclusion into internationally recognized directories, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
As Open Access gathers a growing amount of international support, such as in the form of the Plan S, global public-private partnerships between local universities, journal publishers, and funding agencies, such as Research4Life, which is an initiative to provide developing countries with Open Access or affordable subscriptions to academic journals, could assist with the adoption of quality criteria by Open Access journals and repositories in Asia and the Global South more generally, while contributing to their visibility.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Fudan University, Shanghai, China, April 26, 2008 | © Courtesy of Alva Chien/Flickr.