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Open Access in the Third World

This post is based on the application I submitted for one of five Early Career Travel awards that the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) made available this year. And yes, I was given the award, so I will be in Arlington, Virginia, USA, June 7-9, for SSP's annual meeting, "Beyond Borders and Bindings."
The scholarly publishing industry will most likely be more online than off in the next ten years. With the increasing costs associated with the publication of print journals, the Internet is probably going to be the preferred medium for writers and publishers committed to making scholarly research widely available at the soonest possible time to those who can benefit from it.

Business models for open access publishing will continue to vary depending on international law, funding policies, author preferences, etc., but I believe that the traditional journal will eventually have to be abandoned. This assertion of mine may or may not be conventional wisdom in more developed countries, but in a Third World country like the Philippines, it is, in my opinion, the only way to go.

The Philippines is not known for its scholarly publications. In fact, the only time the publishing industry made it to the front pages of newspapers in the last five years was when textbooks used by millions of students were withdrawn upon the discovery of numerous errors. Very few scholarly journals are currently being published in our country, much less peer-reviewed. Even less are available as online journals, though not all are refereed.

This situation, I believe, is due to the prohibitive cost of publishing scholarly journals that very few libraries can afford. And because the few authors who bother to write scholarly articles cannot be assured of getting their work published within a certain period—i.e., in time for tenure deadlines—they submit their articles to foreign publications. Local publications are then forced to accept any and all articles submitted, instead of going through a peer-review process—assuming, of course, that they even have money to publish.

There are now three Filipino journals—there are twelve I’m aware of whose full text is available online—that exist as purely electronic journals. If more Filipinos become aware of the benefits of open access—in addition to how easy it is to publish online—then maybe more Filipino scholarly publications will become available.

I have worked on print and online publications, and while the time required to edit articles is the same for both, those published online do not have to contend with printing press schedules or deal with printing and mailing costs. And the publication is immediately available and will eventually be searchable through search engines.

Categories: Internet, About Vonjobi

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