Open access publishing in Serbia

EIFL support leads to improvements in open access publishing policies and practices in Serbia

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Editors of scientific journals attend an EIFL-KOBSON workshop in 2016 on how to improve OA journal websites. Addressing the group is EIFL OA country coordinator in Serbia, Milica Ševkušić. Photo: Biljana Rakocevic, National Library of Serbia.

BACKGROUND

EIFL has been supporting open access (OA) and OA publishing in Serbia since 2000. As a result, Serbia was one of the first countries in eastern Europe to adopt an OA publishing model.

EIFL’s main partners in promoting OA publishing have been the Serbian Library Consortium for Coordinated Acquisition (KoBSON) and CEON/CEES (Centre for evaluation in Education and Science), which hosts a platform for OA journals.

EIFL’s early work in Serbia included supporting national and institutional OA awareness raising and advocacy workshops. This resulted in the launch of an OA journals portal at the National Library in 2005.

Most Serbian OA journals are publicly-funded and do not levy Article Processing Charges (APCs - publication fees that journals sometimes charge authors or their institutions to make a work available in OA). In 2011, after the international economic crisis of 2008 and withdrawal of some government funding for journals, EIFL supported a project that included research into whether Serbian OA journals could switch to an APC business model. However, an APC business model for journal publishing has proved not to be viable in Serbia, because it was not affordable.

In 2016, there were about 400 journals in Serbia that were freely available online. However,  the transition to e-publishing had not yet been completed. Serbian OA journals were basically traditional print journals with online versions that were freely available. Some were not fully aware of their OA status, and most did not have explicitly defined journal or OA policies.

The implications of this situation became clear when Serbian journals reapplied for entry into Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). About 30 journals were removed from the DOAJ because they did not comply with standards set by DOAJ. The quality of several dozen pending applications to DOAJ was disputed.

The need to address this situation was further stressed by a pre-evaluation of Serbian journals by the scientific abstract and citation database, Scopus, which highlighted the missing policies as well as the poor structure and quality of journal websites.

In 2016, an EIFL-funded project, ‘Revisiting OA Journal Policies and Practices in Serbia’ implemented by the National Library of Serbia, addressed these issues.

MAIN ACTIVITIES

  • Completed a comprehensive study into 236 Serbian OA journals, analysing their profiles, publication ethics, OA policies and practices, editorial processes and visibility in international journal databases. The study, completed in January 2017, was conducted by KoBSON, and is titled  ‘Open Access Journals in Serbia: Policies and Practices’.
  • Developed policy templates and good practice recommendations for OA publishers. The templates cover editorial processes and publication ethics, OA policy, copyright and licensing. They are tailored for indexing in DOAJ and Scopus. Librarians helped journal publishers and editors to use the templates and to adapt their policies to meet good practice recommendations.
  • Organized six workshops on developing and improving editorial practices, journal websites and use of the OA journal publishing software, Open Journals System (OJS).
  • Helpdesk consultations, including face-to-face meetings, Skype conversations and email exchanges, with over 100 journal editors.
  • Upgraded Serbian OA publishing infrastructure, specifically doiSerbia (a digital object identifier repository that contains articles from the leading Serbian scientific journals).
  • Organized four Wikipedia edit-a-thons (events where editors of online communities improve online content, including basic editing training for new editors). The edit-a-thons were hosted by Belgrade University library in collaboration with the Wiki-Librarian project team and Wikimedia Serbia. Journal editors and librarians wrote/edited 58 articles about Serbian journals for the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia.

TIMELINE

2016-2017

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Over 100 journals have developed policies and improved their editorial and publishing processes.
  • 12 journals have set up new websites powered by Open Journals System (OJS) and one journal has created a static PHP site (PHP IS free and open-source language for creating servers).
  • DOAJ now includes over 100 Serbian OA journals.
  • OA journal publishers in Serbia have access to a comprehensive range of online resources, available on a website within the web domain of the National Library of Serbia. The website (in Serbian) incorporates all the guidelines and templates created during the project, as well as workshop presentations.
  • Serbian OA publishing infrastructure has been upgraded. Journal publishers and editors can now upload their editorial policies and author guidelines to doiSerbia. Publishers that had technically poor websites before can now use doiSerbia journal profiles as their websites.

THE FUTURE

Librarians will continue to provide assistance to OA journal publishers on OA publishing policies, ethics and processes. They will also continue to raise awareness about other issues affecting OA publishing, including standards for e-publishing, the importance of article-level metadata, copyright and licensing, and ensuring that journal publishers know what is required to qualify for indexing in major databases and services like DOAJ, Scopus and Web of Science.

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