A initiative to discover self-archiving policies that has opened the eyes of Portuguese scientific journal publishers to open access
What is it?
Started in 2010, Projecto Blimunda is a library-led initiative, arising out of the Open Access Scientific Repository of Portugal project, to define Portuguese scientific publishers’ and journals’ policies in relation to self-archiving in institutional repositories. Do they allow self-archiving? If so, what versions (preprint, author’s postprint, publisher’s version, PDF) are permitted? Do they allow open access to the self-archived version?
This is crucial information for researchers and librarians looking to make their work available on an open access basis but, until Blimunda, only a few Portuguese publishers had their journal policies included in the SHERPA/RoMEO database (the primary searchable database of publisher’s policies regarding the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in open access repositories).
So, as well as determining the policies of Portuguese scientific publishers and journals in relation to self-archiving in institutional repositories, the project also included these policies in the SHERPA/RoMEO database (which the team translated into Portuguese), as well as evaluating the interest of publishers and journals in adhering to a potential hosting service to be provided by Portugal’s Foundation for National Scientific Computing.
Currently (September 2011), 280 Portuguese scientific journals have been identified and 150 Portuguese publishers have defined their self-archiving policy. These have been added to SHERPA/RoMEO’s database.
How is it a success?
Blimunda is a character from the Nobel-winning Portuguese author José Saramago’s novel Baltasar and Blimunda, and she possesses the extraordinary ability to see things beyond other people’s reach. In the case of her namesake project and open access, she certainly helped Portuguese publishers to see further than they had before.
Blimunda required project workers at the Library of the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, to contact publishers and journals to find out their self-archiving policies. A total of 280 Portuguese journals were contacted.
This inevitably involved an “outreach” aspect, with the librarians acting as ambassadors for open access and explaining the benefits of self-archiving in institutional repositories, as Salima Rehemtula of Projecto Blimunda explains.
“During the project some sessions were held involving the interested parties, namely publishers, colleges and librarians, either by their invitation or by our own initiative. We also received several phone calls asking us to explain some concepts, such as open access, institutional repositories, self-archiving, peer review, journals hosting service, among others. We decided to create a contact kit which was emailed to the publishers and posted on the project’s website, consisting of a supporting document to contextualise Projecto Blimunda and raise awareness of the open access movement and FAQs (compiled from the questions that came out of our contact with publishers) about repositories and open access (the Portuguese version is available on https://sites.google.com/site/projectoblimunda/kit-de-contacto).”
By the end of 2010, 123 journals had established their policies regarding self-archiving in institutional repositories. 76% allowed self-archiving in institutional repositories, 68% allowed the publisher’s version to be self-archived and 67% allowed open access to the self-archived version.
In 2011 a process of formal validation of the policies included in SHERPA/RoMEO’s database began, with journals and publishers sent a PDF of the webpage of their policy in SHERPA/RoMEO attached. During the process of validation, 12 journals asked to change their policies, in most cases to a more liberal version. The final result was that 88% of the publishers allowed the publisher’s version to be self-archived (an increase in 20% in the former result).
“We think that being in SHERPA/RoMEO, an international database with some known publishers, can have influenced in part some of the adhesion to this initiative, because it meant visibility for journals and publishers. Some publishers, after the validation process when they saw their journals in an international database, suggested new titles to be added to our list,” says Rehemtula.
“We can say that we have had a positive feedback from Portuguese publishers and through this project we have helped them to gain insight of open access movement.”