Open Access

Open Access

Open Access Journals: A Pathway to Scientific Information in Iran Alireza Noruzi Ph.D. Candidate University of Paul Cezanne- Aix-Marseille III Marseille, France E-mail: [email protected] Introduction Open Access (OA) journals: The traditional model of scholarly publishing (i.e., publication through peer-reviewed journals) and the Web have converged to publish scientific open access (OA)

journals, which are freely available to those who want to read, download and print them. Open access has removed many access barriers to the scholarly literature, sharing the knowledge of developed countries with developing countries and vice versa, accelerating research and enriching education. Open access means making the full text of research articles available online to all users free of charge, immediately and permanently. An open access journal is defined here as full text available toll-free on the Web for anyone. Introduction Open Access and Iran

Iranian open access journals began to proliferate as the Web emerged. For example, 20 journals published in either English or Persian by Tehran University of Medical Sciences are open access. Iran is making an electronic version of its English and Persian journals, originally published in print format, freely available to the world. Providing open access to journals is consistent with their strategic goal of enhancing the global visibility of their research output through increasing readership, attracting more contributors, and expanding the influence of Iranian authors in general. The use of open access journals in other fields such as education, science, health, culture, art and development is also maximizing research access through publishing peer-reviewed articles. The Iranian community can now gain access to the results of research

by participating in an open access model of research dissemination and individual researchers achieve increased impact typically measured by the number of times a paper is cited and Iranian science gains recognition. Objectives The main purposes of this paper are: to examine the state of open access scholarly journals in Iran; and to analyze their visibility through citations to Iranian OA journals in Thomson-ISI citation indexes. Materials and Methods

The approach used in this study includes the following steps: First, we conducted a search on Google and Iranian directories of scholarly journals to find open access journals. Second, to determine citation rates and Citation Impact, Web of Science (Thomson-ISI citation index) was searched on April 10, 2007, for all Iranian open access journals. Results It is noteworthy that there are 960 Iranian (either Persian or English language) print-based journals and magazines out of which 247 journals (i.e., 28 English and 175 Persian) are accredited by the Iranian Ministry of Science,

Research and Technology (MSRT), and 113 journals (i.e., 23 English and 90 Persian) in the fields of medicine, health, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, podiatry, and biomedicine are accredited by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME). Almost all of the English-language journals accredited by MSRT and MOHME are now open access or back access (back-issue or back-volume open access). It should be noted that Thompson-ISI citation indexes index only 15 English-language journals from Iran. The current study focuses more on OA journals published in English. Results Table 1 shows the total number of citations to

Iranian English-language OA journals, either the ministries accredited or not. The total number of citations (with or without selfcitations) is a reliable indicator of scholarly impact and influence (Cronin & Meho, 2006). Table 1: Total Number of Citations to Iranian English-Language OA Journals Results Table 1 is a ranked list of the English-language OA journals included in the study, although ranking by total citations obviously favors older and more famous journals. It should be noted that Iranian English-language journals, published by well-known universities, are still in their infancy and need more time to be recognized by their peers and the international scientific community.

It seems that one of the main reasons why Iranian journals are not widely cited is that they are not indexed and circulated by foreign databases, especially American and British databases (e.g., Medline, CAB, EBSCO, Proquest, ERIC, Web of Science, WorldCat, LISA, INSPEC, Agris, COMPENDEX, etc). Therefore, not only open access but also wide circulation is important for a journal's acceptance and reputation. Figure 1. Gradual increase of English-language OA journals 12 No of OA Journals 10 8 6

4 2 0 1992 1996 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Year Figure 1 shows a gradual increase of English-language OA journals in Iran, based on the year in which OA began. Table 2: Total Number of Citations to Persian-Language OA Journals Table 2 comprises a sample of Persian-language OA journals (including Englishlanguage abstracts), nationally well-known, for comparison with the Englishlanguage journals.

The comparison between Persian-language and English-language open access journals from Iran shows that English-language journals are more cited. Examination of citations to Persian-language OA journals from English-language journals shows that they are infrequent and only cited by Persian-speaking authors. Therefore, it can be concluded that English-speaking authors do not cite Persian-language journals. It should also be noted that Thomson-ISI citation indexes have a bias towards the English-language, indexing few non-Englishlanguage journals. Suggestions for improvement Iranian academic institutions should implement a policy: to encourage their researchers to publish their research papers in open access journals where a suitable journal exists (and provide the support to enable that to happen). to launch new open access journals, where necessary, to serve individual communities, and should support existing journals who want to make the transition to open access. to submit OA journals for inclusion in a large number of

indexing and abstracting databases to be widely circulated and read. to establish open access repositories for English and Persian papers written by Iranians; and to require Iranian researchers to deposit a copy of all their published papers in a national open access repository. Discussion and Conclusion To sum up, open access to Iranian scholarly literature is the key element for Iran, improving and accelerating the scientific activities. The Web makes it possible for Iranian research papers to be read

more easily and therefore probably get cited more, because of free, unrestricted access to open access journals. Research institutions that support open access will benefit greatly in terms of impact and influence, due to the greater accessibility and visibility of their research. Some Iranian journals (English or Persian language) currently offer delayed free access, or back access, making issues of journals free six months or a year after journal publication. It is worth noting that in fast-moving topics, such information may be out of date when the readers gain access, thus providing back access rather than open access. The overall costs of providing open access to scholarly journals are far lower than the costs of traditional print journals, therefore we suggest that Iranian journals, especially international English-language journals become OA, because it is not possible for a print journal to be circulated throughout the world. Discussion and Conclusion

It should be noted that OA by itself does not guarantee greater impact and influence for an OA journal, except if the journal publicizes and circulates its contents as widely as possible via international discussion groups, listservs and databases. Briefly, the advantages of open access for Iranian researchers are: 1. provides access to other research done in their research fields; 2. speeds up scholarly communication and scientific dialog between researchers; and 3. provides greater visibility and possibly greater impact, although only if open access to the full text is provided.


ANTELMAN, K. (2004), Do open-access articles have a greater research impact? College & Research Libraries, 65(5), 372-382. BRODY, T. (2004), Citation analysis in the open access world. Available at: BRODY, T., STAMERJOHANNS, H., VALLIERES, F., HARNAD, S., GINGRAS, Y., & OPPENHEIM, C. (2004), The effect of open access on citation impact. National Policies on Open Access (OA) Provision for University Research Output: An International meeting. Southampton University, Southampton, UK, 19 February 2004. CHAN, L., et al. (2002, February 14), Budapest open access initiative. Available at: CRONIN, B., & MEHO, L. (2006), Using the h-index to rank influential information scientists. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(9), 12751278. EYSENBACH, G. (2006), Citation advantage of open access articles. PLoS Biology, 4(5): e157. GHANE, M. (2006), A survey of open access barriers to scientific information: Providing an appropriate pattern for scientific communication in Iran. The Grey Journal: An International Journal on Grey Literature. Vol. 2, No. 1.

HARDY, R., OPPENHEIM, C., BRODY, T., & HITCHCOCK, S. (2005), Open access citation information- Final report Extended version. JISC Scholarly Communications Group, September 2005. HARNAD, S., BRODY, T., VALLIERES, F., CARR, L., HITCHCOCK, S., GINGRAS, Y., OPPENHEIM, C., STAMERJOHANNS, H., & HILF, E. (2004), The access/impact problem and the green and gold roads to open access. Serials review, 30(4): 310-314. HITCHCOCK, S. (2005), The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: A bibliography of studies. Iranian Directory of Open Access Journals (2007). Available at: LAWRENCE, S. (2001), Online or invisible? Nature, 411(6837), p. 521. MSRT (2006), Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Available at: MOHME (2006), Ministry of Health and Medical Education. Available at: MACCALLUM, C.J., & PARTHASARATHY, H. (2006), Open access increases citation rate. PLoS Biology, 4(5): e176. Available at: RESEARCH COUNCILS UK (2005, June), Rcuk position statement on access to research outputs. Available at: Rousseau, R. (2002), Impact of African journals in ISI databases. LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 15(2). Available at: SWAN, A., & BROWN, S. (2004), JISC/open society institute journal authors survey. Available at:

JISCOAreport1.pdf THOMSON-ISI (2004), The impact of open access journals: A citation study from Thomson ISI. Available at: WEITZMAN, J.B. (2006), (Mis)leading open access myths. Available at: Thank You Question ? Alireza Noruzi Ph.D. Candidate University of Paul Cezanne- Aix-Marseille III Marseille, France [email protected] Website: E-mail:

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