Making Serbia’s scientific journals part of international scientific publishing
What is it?
Scientific scholarly publishing in Serbia has tended to be based around small presses and scholarly societies in university faculties rather than large, professional publishers. Articles are generally print-only or, if online, published on ad hoc web pages rather than properly indexed sites. This has made it very difficult for Serbian scientific research to attract international attention.
doiSerbia was launched in 2005 to improve this situation. The National Library of Serbia set out to assign DOI numbers to a number of Serbian scientific journals, deposit proper metadata about them into the Crossref system, and make articles available online. It started with a pilot project of five journals and now includes 59 of them, with over 17,000 full text articles freely available to read.
The archive offers a number of additional, free-of-charge services for journals and researchers including “cited-by linking” which provides details of citations on each article webpage, and “online first” whereby all articles that have passed all the standard procedures, such as the peer review process, and are simply waiting to be printed can start their lives much earlier online.
How is it a success?
In terms of its aim to make Serbian research visible to the international community, doiSerbia can be seen as an unequivocal success.
Since the project launched, 20 Serbian journals have been indexed by the Web of Science, all of them first indexed by the doiSerbia.
“It would not have been that many without doiSerbia,” says Biljana Kosanovic, doiSerbia’s project manager. “It’s a clear example of how the service has improved the visibility of these journals. The core of the success of the project is that Serbian journals have become part of international scientific publishing.”
Not surprisingly, with results like that, the service is very popular with the journals themselves. With the exception of two journals that would not accept the open access condition, all 300 of Serbia’s scientific journals would like to be part of the DOI repository. The only constraint on development is resources at the National Library to process the DOI numbers and metadata. The library will add a further 10 titles this year but after that will have to consider ways to expand the office to be able to cope with the demand. It is currently funded with a small grant from the Serbian Ministry of Science with no charge to the journals, as it was decided that the cost of the collection of so many very small sums (DOI numbers cost around $2 per number for current content) would not be sustainable.
“The journals want to be part of the story because it’s open access and also because those journals that are already part of doiSerbia are much more clickable,” explains Mrs Kosanovic. “It is not enough that your journal is on the internet, it must be prepared according to some standards. If use Crossref and good metadata it allows users to get the full text with just a few clicks, as well as the full text of the citing references.”
The professional standards used by doiSerbia have raised the profile of the library, and librarians, in the country among science researchers, with a growing awareness that libraries can promote journals more effectively than the scholarly societies, through good quality metadata that can be harvested easily by well-recognised indexers and those within the commercial sector. Libraries are being recognised as “a part of a society that has changed, and is forward-thinking” by the Serbian scientific research community, thanks to doiSerbia.
The initiative also has the potential to expand knowledge about open access in the whole region. Mrs Kosanovic has been invited to share her knowledge and experiences of the project at conferences in Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia and believes that it offers an inspirational example of the power of open access to make research visible across and beyond a region.
“People think that if the librarians in Serbia can do it then why couldn’t we? We cannot compare what is possible for us to do with librarians in Germany or the UK because they have completely different work and budgets but here we are showing people something that is on their level. They see that if someone from the region can do something then it means it could be done – it is an inspiration and it gives encouragement,” concludes Mrs Kosanovic.