By Yvette Diven
Lead Product Manager, Data Services, ProQuest Workflow Solutions
The occasional View from the Knowledgebase is intended to provide you with a statistical glimpse into the ProQuest® Knowledgebase, the comprehensive and authoritative repository of electronic, print, and digital resource metadata that powers the Intota™ library services platform, the Summon® service, and other ProQuest solutions that researchers and librarians use every day.
In this edition, we’re turning the spotlight on Open Access (OA) publications—a growing and evolving component of scholarly research and publishing—and some ways in which ProQuest is helping librarians and researchers investigate and evaluate these resources.
Open Access, which Peter Suber has defined as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions,” became a reality between 2003 and 2004 with the first OA journal launched by the Public Library of Science, and the creation of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) at Lund University in Sweden. In these early days, OA titles in our Knowledgebase consisted primarily of individual serials published and hosted by individual publishers.
Today there are more than 10,500 Open Access journals and tens of thousands of OA books; there are OA digital collections, dissertations, and other materials on provider websites, in aggregations, and in institutional repositories. Coverage of aggregated Open Access packages in the Knowledgebase has nearly doubled in just the past 4 years, representing freely-accessible content collections from publishers in more than 130 countries.
The growth of Open Access publications brings a lot of positives to library collection development—they’re budget-friendly, easy to access, and thousands of the scholarly titles are peer-reviewed. Yet, understanding the scope, quality, and appropriateness of OA resources for discipline-based research and as outlets for authors can be a challenge. A view into how these free resources stack up against established subscription-based titles isn’t always obvious.
Many of the questions to be asked about identifying, describing, and defining appropriate Open Access resources for a library’s collection are universal: What disciplines are covered? Who is the publisher? How long has the title been published? Where is the title indexed? Other questions are the ones we ask ourselves at ProQuest, as a publisher and content and Knowledgebase provider: How can we help librarians identify the most relevant OA titles for their institutions? What new tools can we provide to help evaluate new OA offerings? Where can we help establish best practices for OA publishers?
Thanks to the diligent work of Harvard University research librarian Cheryl LaGuardia, in-depth analysis of new Open Access titles is available through ProQuest’s Magazines for Libraries™ Update blog. Launched in 2014, the blog is designed to help librarians and researchers learn more about the aims and focus of both OA and niche titles that merit a closer look. Several times each month, Cheryl shares reviews and critiques that are thought-provoking as well as informative. Metadata about the publications is added to the Knowledgebase, and the title-level reviews may appear at a later date in the annual print edition of Magazines for Libraries™ and in the Ulrichsweb™ service, where information about Open Access journals and other serials includes indexing coverage and other details.
Another way in which ProQuest is helping raise the bar for Open Access evaluation is through our participation in the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). The OASPA represents the interests of OA journal publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines and is working toward guidelines that promote a uniform definition of OA publishing, best practices for maintaining and disseminating OA scholarly communications and ethical standards. You can read more about ProQuest’s participation in the OASPA here.
We continue to add to our coverage of Open Access publications and expand our coverage of OA ebook packages—a growing component of the Knowledgebase. We’ll take a closer look at ebooks in a future View from the Knowledgebase. In the meantime, you can visit the ProQuest Support Center for our monthly report of key Knowledgebase metrics.