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Estudios atacameños

versão On-line ISSN 0718-1043

Estud. atacam.  no.53 San Pedro de Atacama  2016

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-10432016000200001 

Editorial

 

Knowledge in dispute. Observations on scientometrics, access systems and social science in latin America

 

Gonzalo Pimentel G.1, Alejandro Garcés2, Susan C. Kuzminsky3, Carolina Agüero P.4 and Lautaro Núñez A.5

 

1 Archaeologist. General editor of Estudios Atacameños. Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo (IIAM), Universidad Católica del Norte. CHILE. Email: gepimentel@ucn.cl

2 Social Anthropologist. Social Anthropology Editor for Estudios Atacameños. Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo (IIAM), Universidad Católica del Norte. CHILE. Email: agarces@ucn.cl

3 Physical anthropologist. Bio-anthropology Editor for Estudios Atacameños. Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo (IIAM), Universidad Católica del Norte. CHILE. Email: skuzminsky@ucn.cl

4 Archaeologist. Archaeology Editor for Estudios Atacameños. Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo (IIAM), Universidad Católica del Norte. CHILE. Email: maguero@ucn.cl

5 Senior Editor of Estudios Atacameños. Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo (IIAM), Universidad Católica del Norte. CHILE. Email: lnunez@ucn.cl

 

No academic would disagree with the idea that scientific knowledge should be considered an open public good with free access, especially if it has been produced by projects financed with public funds. However, this common sense view is far removed from the reality of scientific publications. Scientific knowledge is immersed in a permanent, intense dispute for global ownership and control. Moreover, it would appear that the large private publishers are winning the race, since they have largely determined how the world's scientific and technological information has been managed over the past several decades.6

Public or private good?

Let us examine the latest statistics published by SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015, which are derived from the SCOPUS database. This database belongs to the private publishing giant Elsevier, which controls 1,801 high level academic journals and has the biggest database of scientific journals on earth, with 29,713 academic publications. The figures are eloquent. They show that 87.2% of SCOPUS journals function with closed access systems, while just over 12% - 3796 publications - have open, free-access systems (Table 1). If we compare regions, we see that Latin America leads by a wide margin with 70% of its journals in open systems. This demonstrates a consistent policy of free access to knowledge across the region from Mexico to Chile; however in the international context this carries little weight since it represents only 2.5% of high impact academic publications. By contrast, North America has only 5.5% with open access, followed by Western Europe with 11%, yet these two regions cover 80.5% of the high impact academic journal production and 52% of Open Access journals in the SCOPUS universe. Although the number of Open Access journals increases every year, driven mainly by emerging countries, closed systems predominate by a wide margin with accelerated privatization and the resulting restrictive commercialization of academic publications. Thus, the higher the journal's impact, the more closed and expensive is access to its content. Indeed, of the 50 highest impact journals in the world, not one is Open Access.

Table 1. Frequency of open and closed access academic journals by region. Own preparation using data from SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015.
http://www.scimagojr.com

 

All of these high impact journals are based in the USA or UK, with the exception of one, which is produced in Holland (Table 2). The top German, French, Spanish, Brazilian and Chilean journals are ranked at numbers 87, 393, 1402, 3944 and 4267 in the SCImago ranking, respectively. Clearly the Anglo-Saxon world leads both in impact indices and in the number of journals produced. The USA and UK publish 57% of SCOPUS journals. With respect to the dispute for control of scientific knowledge, the European Union recently took a significant step by agreeing that by 2020 all of its journals must be Open Access.7 This would even the balance.



Table 2. The 20 highest impact academic journals in the world, according to SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015.
http://www.scimagojr.com

In the case of the humanities and social sciences, the pattern is very similar to the natural sciences, medicine and astronomy led by the Anglo-Saxon journals (Table 3). If we consider, for example, only the Social Science category (n=5,542 journals), we see that almost 60% of production is concentrated in the USA and UK, an even higher percentage than the general pattern. The participation of Latin America is also higher, at 3.2%. In this context, the positions of Brazil and Chile are surprising, with the former in the top 10 countries for high impact Social Sciences journals, and Chile holding the 19th position, above Mexico, Japan and China (Table 4).

Table 3. Frequency of open and closed access journals in social and human sciences. Own preparation using data from SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015.
http://www.scimagojr.com

Table 4. Frequency by representative country of academic journals in the social sciences category. Own preparation using data from SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015. http://www.scimagojr.com

Chile is a special case for the social sciences, since of the 88 journals indexed in SCOPUS, 31 belong to this category, or 35% of the publications, making it the most important Latin American country in this category. Of the five highest impact Latin American journals, three are Chilean: Chungara, Estudios Atacameños and Magallania (Table 5). It is also noteworthy that these journals come from the extreme peripheral zones of the Chile, the first two from the far north (Arica and San Pedro de Atacama) and the third from Punta Arenas in the south. This shows the importance of regional universities in the production of high impact academic publications. These journals have a strong regional emphasis and are devoted to archaeology, anthropology and history in that order of importance.

 

Table 5. The 10 highest impact Latin American journals in the social sciences category, according to SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015.
http://www.scimagojr.com

 

Estudios Atacameños. Arqueología y antropología surandinas

In recent years, Estudios Atacameños. Arqueología y antropología surandinas has risen significantly in all the indices measured by this ranking system. In the specific categories of Archaeology (Arts and Humanities), History and Cultural Studies, it has reached first place in Latin America, second place among Spanish language journals, and is among the top 50 high impact journals in these disciplines in the world. In the Anthropology category it has reached second place in Latin America, particularly for its performance in the History category, advancing from 142nd place in 2014 to 79th in 2015 (Table 6).

Table 6. Estudios Atacameños - performance in the various disciplinary categories in SCOPUS. Own preparation using data from SCImago Journal & Country Rank 2015.
http://www.scimagojr.com

 

Estudios Atacameños remains committed to the free circulation of scientific knowledge. It will continue to support a free, open, public system for scientific publications, such as is promoted by the SciELO electronic library in Latin America. In this context, we invite all researchers to publish their articles in Open Access journals so as to discourage the extremely expensive, closed, restrictive systems and foster knowledge as a universal right with free, shared access.

Today our journal is published exclusively in digital format and we have activated the AOP (Ahead of Print) system in SciELO, allowing us greater fluidity in publishing articles. We have also broadened our areas of interest from the southern Andes region to the whole of South America; and for some time we have been accepting articles both in Spanish and in English.

We therefore invite all researchers to submit manuscripts through our new OJS online system http://revistas.ucn.cl/index.php/estudios-atacamenos/index

 

San Pedro de Atacama, December 2016.

 

Notas

 

6 "Publishing conglomerates such as Elsevier in Holland and Springer in Germany dominate a business which generates annual earnings of around 10 billion dollars, charging in some cases nearly 20 million Chilean pesos [approx. US$ 30,000] for an annual subscription to a journal and around 20,000 pesos [approx. US$ 30] for a specific article". El Napster de la ciencia, by Marcelo Córdoba. La Tercera newspaper, 25.06.2016. http://www.latercera.com/noticia/el-napster-de-la-ciencia/

7 See also the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (2003) http://web.archive.org/web/20140530043311/
http://www.aprendelo.com/rec/berlin-declaration-open-access-knowledge-sciences-and-humanities.html
and the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) portal which has a stock of 9,394 journals https://doaj.org/

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