In just three years, open access repository pedocs has secured cooperative relationships with the key German publishers in its field
What is it?
pedocs is a German educational science archive that uses an innovative cooperation model with German publishing houses to make available freely and openly a wealth of high quality pedagogic literature.
One of the highlights of the repository is that it contains full runs of important educational journals. For example, the Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, one of the leading German journals for educational science, will soon be available on pedocs from its very first volume in 1955 right up to 2009, with further volumes published each year.
In addition, pedocs contains monographs, collections of essays and grey literature. There are currently (autumn 2011) over 3,000 documents online, with a further 6-7,000 in a queue ready to be prepared with the correct metadata and published online.
pedocs is open to all, with well over half its visitors finding the resource through Google and scientific search engines.
How is it a success?
pedocs was set up in 2008 by the German Institute for International Educational Research and in just the last three years has developed cooperative relationships with more than 25 small and medium-sized German educational literature publishing houses.
These relationships are the key to its success, with 90% of the content in the archive coming direct from publishers. “Up to now we have prioritised getting the German publishing houses on board,” says Agathe Gebert, academic staff member and responsible for content acquisition for pedocs “I would call it a great success because, for us, it was a method of acquiring substantial and quality approved material. Because of our cooperation with the publishing houses we are able to make available as open access these huge quantities of journals.”
It is a process that requires some careful handling, as Agathe Gebert explains. “We have to kindle the publishing house’s interest by explaining how they benefit from the relationship. At the beginning they were a little sceptical – if they put their book on the internet for free then why will people still buy the printed version? We had to emphasis that online visibility makes the book more widely known and, actually, once they have discovered it online, most scientists still want to hold the book in their hands.”
pedocs offers a range of cooperation models to suit the needs of different publishers. The most popular is “selective access” where only some contributions from a work are put online, such as individual essays from a collection in a book.
“Publishing houses like this model as through it they can advertise the whole monograph and see if the online availability and greater visibility contributes to them being able to sell more,” says Ms Gebert. She has regular meetings with publishers to also assess the impact of this kind of selective access and whether it helps or hinders sales of the whole volume. Early feedback suggests that it benefits sales, especially as, through a special add-on, pedocs offers an option inviting the user of a contribution from a collective work to place an online order for the full work via www.buchhandel.de.
Other cooperation models include the “delayed access” model which allows for a secondary publication on pedocs following a period of embargo; the “out of print” model where pedocs undertakes to publish online material that is no longer accessible elsewhere; and the “open access direct” model which describes a simultaneous launch of print and open access publications. Such a simultaneous publication can refer to individual contributions from collection of articles or even complete monographs, which are primarily targeted by this concept.
For the publishing houses, the benefits of working with pedocs include the integration of their content into the German Education Portal as well as a reference in the German Education Index, the most comprehensive German language bibliographic database in the field of educational science. The German Education Portal has around 200,000 online access rates per month and so provides for a high searchability and findability of the full texts that have been integrated into pedocs, which helps to promote the works themselves as well as their publishing houses. Furthermore, pedocs collaborates with the German National Library and provides a persistent URN, assuring their long-term archiving.
For pedocs, the cooperation models ensure that not only are large amounts of high quality journals and monographs available to teachers and educational scientists, but the layout of all the documents is the same as the published originals.
“This is very important for citing page references,” says Ms Gebert. “You need to know you’re talking about the same pages!”
While the focus since 2008 has been on home-grown journals and publishers, pedocs is now looking to expand by building relationships with international publishers. Work is also in progress at pedocs to put online a backlog of material it has accumulated and to develop marketing tools to increase awareness of the resource among educational scientists.