Getting global exposure for local research through open access publishing

Elsevier’s Production & Hosting services enable research in regional journals to gain international exposure and impact

Attracting new research partners and securing funding is highly competitive. It’s especially challenging if few researchers are aware of the type of research you are doing, and if your name – and that of your institution or the journal you published your results in – are unfamiliar  or difficult to access.

Shared hosting journalsTo help them gain wider exposure and readership, Elsevier is partnering with 150 journals that already are widely known in their regions.

Many of these journals are hosted on local platforms, and some are published in a local language. Most are owned by universities and other research institutions, which aim to attract international collaborators and new research students. This can be difficult with journal exposure limited to the region,  but it’s important for science; research isn’t only relevant for a local region — it’s often relevant for others as well. For example agricultural research in China could be useful for someone in the Middle East or the United States, and these important findings are “hidden”  in locally or regionally focused publications.

This is where journal partnership programs can help by getting international exposure for regionally published research.

We started the Elsevier partnership program in 2010 because customers noticed that there wasn’t a lot of local research on ScienceDirect or indexed in Scopus. Local journal partners were struggling to attract quality reviewers and editorial boards. We realized that by working together, we could help  locally published journals get global exposure and, in time, be indexed in Scopus; this would boost their university ranking, help their research be seen internationally and attract higher quality submissions from other regions.

How the partnerships work

So how do these publishing partnerships work? Let’s take the example of the Journal of Advanced Research, which was one of the first journals Elsevier partnered with. This was a new journal that had the goal of becoming truly international. In addition to providing hosting services on ScienceDirect,  we included the use of our submission systems and tools that help with anti-plagiarism, finding reviewers and measuring the impact of their research. Over three years, the journal saw a huge increase in the number of downloads, from about 24,000 in 2010 to more than 100,000 in 2013. In addition, the  journal started to draw submissions and readers from 28 countries around the world. Today the journal is indexed in Scopus, and each paper receives an average of two citations.

Prof. Abd El-Aty, PhDManaging Editor Prof. Abd El-Aty of the Department  of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, at Cairo University, reflected on the experience of his journal:

We partnered with Elsevier, because we believed that we wanted to increase the global impact of the research work published in our journal and also make the readerships trust the source from where they obtain the information. After five years of launching, striving, and working effectively, we believe  we are now on the right track with the journal being recognized at an international standard.

Another feature of these journals is that they are usually published open access. These titles normally do not charge authors an article publishing charge (APC); instead, the institution or organization subsidizes this fee so it is free for both authors and readers. In fact, in many regions, this type  of open access has been around for some time. For instance, in Latin America, where the government plays a central role in funding research, local journals are hosted on local platforms and are freely available to the public.

Helping early-career researchers write better papers and get published

Another key aspect of partnering with these journals is capacity building. The thing we hear most from early career authors looking to build their reputation is that they have submitted many articles and have been rejected many times. What is missing is the knowledge about how to write or construct  an article in a professional way and how to find the right journals for their submissions. While they could publish in a local journal run by the university, many times the first step in building a reputation will be publishing in an international journal. By having high-impact regional journals available  to them, they will have good publishing options, and we can play a role in providing guidance on how they should format and construct their articles to increase their chances of acceptance.

We often run local workshops explaining to early career researchers how to publish and format their results. In fact, we are also training our editors to adhere to international publishing standards, including publishing ethics; all journals in this program are provided with full access to iThenticate, a plagiarism detection software.

Attracting internationally known researchers

There is yet another benefit for the regional journals: by becoming an international publication they can attract internationally known and respected researchers for their editorial boards. For international editors, it is also a way they can share their expertise with their own regional community.  This actually happened in Genes and Diseases, where a fellow editor, Prof. Tong Chuang He of the University of Chicago Medical Center was invited to become the Editor-in-Chief of  the journal.

In many ways, I consider myself and many of my peers who received college education in China and completed advanced degrees and trainings in Western countries uniquely fitting for such positions as we have deep understanding about both Chinese and Western academic culture.

Nonetheless, I see my role as a bridging person, and it is like a Chinese saying ‘sailing with a borrowed boat,’ which means with the rapidly increasing influx of foreign-educated and trained Chinese scholars, individuals like myself are likely to play less important roles in coming years    in terms of leading the publication efforts in China. I expect there will be a huge increase in English language-based scientific publications from Chinese universities, academic institutes, and professional organizations within next 5 to 10 years. Eventually, many of these academics will reach the top-tier    status in respective fields internationally.

A full-circle process

Journal partnerships to raise the international profile of journals ultimately benefit the researcher. In the early stages of their career, researchers can gain access to extra resources to understand the publishing process and publication outlets that will enable them to take their first step on the  career ladder. Later in the career, they can use the opportunity to give back to their institutions and regions by joining an editorial board. It is a full circle process in which publishers can play an important role.

Open access journals with no article publishing charge (APC)

Hosted by Elsevier logo Open access can take many different forms. Free access to research comes  at a cost, and in some journals, this is paid for by the author. This arrangement is known as gold open access. In other journals, this cost is subsidized by an organization or society. While this is also counted as gold open access, the authors publish for free, and the public can access the publication  for free. We refer to these as subsidized open access journals.

Elsevier has 128 subsidized open access journals from 22 countries, which continue to increase their quality and reach international audiences. This directory of open  access journals published by Elsevier includes these subsidized journals along with society journals and Elsevier’s own open access titles.

Additionally, we publish a series of 21 discipline-specific journals called Procedia that specialize in conference proceedings. These, too, have their open access costs subsided by the conference organization and are free to access by everyone on ScienceDirect.


Elsevier Connect Contributors

Monique LamineRachel MartinMonique Lamine heads up the Contract Publishing team in the Publishing Development & International Markets department at Elsevier and is in charge of several third-party publishing programs. Since joining Elsevier in 2006, she has managed publishing portfolios in the Life Sciences and Computer Sciences areas as well as several publishing projects to improve end user workflows and services and develop new author services.

As part of Elsevier’s open access strategy team, Monique specializes in new publishing models and services with a focus on emerging markets worldwide.

Before joining Elsevier, she worked as a recruitment consultant, starting up new business in the Life Sciences area. She holds a master's degree in bioprocess technology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Rachel Martin (@rachelcmartin) is the Access and Policy Communications Manager at Elsevier, based in Amsterdam. She is responsible for helping to communicate Elsevier's progress in areas such as open access, philanthropic access programs and access technologies.

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