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Directory of Open Access Journals
May 24, 2003 12:31 PM   Subscribe

The Directory of Open Access Journals, launched this month by Lund University Libraries in Sweden, links to peer-reviewed online scholarly journals whose entire content is freely available. (More inside.)
posted by mcwetboy (11 comments total)

 
As you might expect, there aren't that many freely available peer-reviewed scholarly journals to link to: around 350 in all academic fields at the site's launch (press release). This MeFi thread from November 2001, which discusses some of the issues surrounding academic publishing, helps explain why most scholarly journals probably won't be open access any time soon.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2003


I get all the physics papers I need at xx.lanl.gov. How does that fit into all this? I never understood how they worked? (thanks, btw, mcwetboy)
posted by vacapinta at 1:04 PM on May 24, 2003


vacapinta, it looks like this site is basically a Yahoo-style directory of every known peer-reviewed journal that meets their open access criteria. So under the Physics category, this is the list of journals they have right now.

Although each category looks pretty shallow (only 1 or 2 journals within each), it looks like a great service that I wish more journals adopted. I remember being a grad school researcher and having to wait days for interlibrary loans to get copies of certain papers. It'd be great if there were searchable html or pdf versions of every journal on earth, but I guess the publishers have to make a living and charge their exorbitant fees.
posted by mathowie at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2003


Great link, thanks!
posted by fvw at 1:35 PM on May 24, 2003


Oops! I messed that up!

Thanks Matt. What i meant to say is why would i go through the open access journals when most of the physics papers I know are published directly by their authors. This kind of gets around the whole bound journal process which is what I thought was what the web was all about.

The correct link to xxx.lanl.gov
posted by vacapinta at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2003


vacapinta: While that may be the case for physics papers, it certainly isn't for most other papers (I certainly wish it was though). Most authors are required to sign over copyright for their papers to the publishers; only recently has Nature bucked the trend, but they still are quite restrictive. As a result, the only places to get the paper online are usually through the journals themselves, and that invariably requires subscription fees. Companies such as ScienceDirect and Elsevier have formed to handle the hundreds and thousands of journals that are now online and offer institutions subscription agreements for access.

I know that Cambridge University recently got into a big argument with Elsevier over subscription fees; I believe they were asking for something like £100,000 a year for limited access to their archives. It eventually got resolved.

It really does suck that all of these subscriptions are necessary. While it's OK for me here at Cambridge because I have decent access to journal archives, I can only imagine how frustrating it is for others who don't have access. There are at least a couple of organisations set up to promote free journals (I can't for the life of me remember what they're called now) but they've got a long and difficult road ahead of them.
posted by adrianhon at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2003


vacapinta: It also, if the journals are removed from the process entirely, gets around the idea of peer review. That can be argued as a good or bad thing, but at least for my field (linguistics) I would prefer having that check around. The internet makes a good distribution mechanism, but doesn't have any means of ensuring quality. It's not that peer review is guaranteed to do that, but it's better than nothing. Maybe ultimately something like a web-of-trust model would be better, but that's hard to implement.

Also, most of the linguistics equivalents to the thing you describe (rutgers optimality archive, semantics archive) tend only to have preprint versions of journal articles, because many journals have their authors sign over copyrights. The differences may not always be large, but sometimes things are left out, changes are made. Sometimes it's an expanded version, too. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the papers on the xxx.lanl.gov archive are like this, too.

A final thing that bound journals provide: a hard, verified date of publication. This is pretty important, I think. I guess lanl does something like this, but other systems that I've seen don't.
posted by advil at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2003


I find Citeseer incredibly useful for finding papers in certain areas but in other areas, such as more mainstream Psychology, there is a dearth of freely available online papers and this seems due to publishers enforcement of copyright. It seems to me that, since academics don't receive money for publishing in journals, and publishers need academics to maintain the peer review system, that there is absolutely no good reason why all academic journals couldn't be freely available on the web with just as good a review system and substantially lower overheads for universities. The web has made the publishers' role redundant to the point where they simply serve to impede the whole process of disseminating knowledge.
posted by jamespake at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2003


PubMed is definitely my search engine of choice when it comes to the biological sciences. While the majority of papers are in subscription-only journals, there are still a few that are offered for free; PNAS in particular seem to have their papers publicly available. I wrote something about this on my weblog.
posted by adrianhon at 4:47 PM on May 24, 2003


Great link--thanks! I note that in the social science section there's not even a cateogry listing for my former field political science (not surprised).
posted by donovan at 7:06 PM on May 24, 2003


I guess the publishers have to make a living and charge their exorbitant fees.

Amen. Independent scholarly work is almost impossible these days. There are some other projects along these lines, such as the Scholarly Journals Distributed Via the World Wide Web.
posted by hairyeyeball at 8:34 AM on May 25, 2003


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