Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, May 09, 2008

Criticism of SSHRC policy on funding OA journals

Maximilian Forte, Social Science Research Funding in Canada: Additional Notes (3.0), Open Anthropology, May 9, 2008.

... [The Canadaian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's] new "Aid to Open-Access Research Journals" fund ... should be something worthy of celebration among those espousing open access, independent academic publishing, except for three major problems in the way SSHRC has arbitrarily limited the scope of the journals it will consider.

  1. SSHRC insists that the majority of members of the editorial board of the journal be affiliated with a Canadian university;
  2. SSHRC insists on the model of peer review that all of the journals it funds must adhere to; and,
  3. SSHRC demands that the journals be already well established, with at least four issues published, a minimum of 250 regular readers, and proof from citation databases that articles published have had an impact. ...

With open source collaboration on the Internet there is no reason why Canadian scholars would or should cluster together rather than form invisible colleges with colleagues from across the planet ...

Secondly ... [w]hen SSHRC imposes its preferred model of peer review, this minimizes the room for academic independence, academic freedom, and the ability of scholars to create the model that they think will work best.

Thirdly, while not impossible, how does one prove the exact identity of readers to know that 250 of them are “regulars”? How do we know they are reading, and not just downloading?

Finally, citation databases that I have seen tend not to cover electronic journals, and cover only a minority of the print journals, opting instead to cover the most highly cited ones instead. ...

While SSHRC has actually funded several open access journals in Canada, for some who read these various restrictions, the sub text might be: "serious applicants need not apply."