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Preprint Repositories Gain in Institutional Legitimacy and Recognition, Reduce the Attractiveness of Subscription Journals

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Main Library, University of Indonesia, Depok, West Java, Indonesia, January 20, 2011 | © Courtesy of fz199.

As Indonesian INA-Rxiv, a country-level preprint repository for papers across different scientific disciplines, is launched, scholars at German research universities and institutions rely on article preprint access during their transition from paywall-based publication models to Open Access.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

Whereas in the West individual subscription-based journals, such as the Journal of Biomedical Optics founded in 1996 and Neurophotonics published since 2014, continue to switch from subscription-based publishing to Open Access, while relying on hybrid business models during the transition, in emerging economies, e.g., Indonesia, Open Access preprint servers provide the infrastructure for macro-level, national-scale departures from toll-based publishing models, in favor of the unrestricted access to recent scientific findings across all academic disciplines. The latter is showcased by Indonesia-based INA-Rxiv launched as recently as in August, 2017, reaching over 1,500 preprints in its archive in early 2018 and helping to increase the international visibility of locally produced scientific and scholarly findings, such as through its indexing by Google Scholar.

Though this local Open Access initiative has relied for its launch on external non-profit support, e.g., a partnership with the Open Science Framework of the United States-based Center for Open Science, it is not inconceivable that as this preprint repository grows its article archive and increases its acceptance in local scholarly communities, the Indonesian government may chose to provide financial resources to this article repository, in order to help local academic institutions to negotiate favorable journal subscription contracts with global publishers, such as Elsevier. As much can be inferred from the latest updates from the standoff between German academic institutions, such as universities and libraries, and Elsevier that is forced to extend their unrestricted access to its contents, as journal subscription negotiations aimed at halving subscription fees and prioritizing publishing in Open Access as the preferred option continue into their second year.

To a significant extent, the strong bargaining position of German universities and libraries derives from the wide international accessibility of recent scientific findings via Open Access preprint repositories. That Indonesian scientific institutions are likely to take note of this effect of preprint archives on the power relations in the academic articles’ publishing market is indicated by the introduction of locally developed indices, e.g., SINTA, that measure the visibility and quality of the output produced by local researchers and institutions in January 2017, such as based on metrics that index citation data from international databases, e.g., the Web of Science and Scopus.

Rapid processing times of INA-Rxiv and its indexing by Google Scholar indicates the growing international recognition of pre-print repositories and Open Access journals as publication venues to which scholars can take recourse to disseminate their results and governmental and academic institutions can include into their reports for the purposes of performance evaluation, funding decision-making and promoting individual scholars.

Even though Open Access preprint archives, such as INA-Rxiv, may need to develop quality-ensuring mechanisms, their growing international recognition is likely to have a systemic effect on the publishing market.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Main Library, University of Indonesia, Depok, West Java, Indonesia, January 20, 2011 | © Courtesy of fz199.

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