The difficulties in acquiring and offering access to print material during the current COVID-19 crisis has meant that many librarians have re-directed their efforts towards making more online resources available to their readers. Part of the work done by the Latin American and Iberian collections team has concentrated on publications by CLACSO (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales), a network of 700 research institutions in 52 countries, mainly from Latin America. CLACSO’s catalogue has 2953 open access ebooks, mainly in Spanish and Portuguese, and some of them can be accessed directly from the library’s catalogue, iDiscover, and through the JSTOR platform that hosts them. However, rather disappointingly, metadata for these books was so poor that it could have caused confusion for readers. The vast majority of the nearly 200 records, which were meant to make these books retrievable, often featured little more than a title (sometimes incomplete) and the publisher’s name.
Work has been undertaken to update these records so that readers consulting Cambridge Libraries’ catalogue can access them through more complex and diverse searches, data now being available on authors, editors, subjects, series, contents, bibliography, etc. Click on the images to see enlarged examples here:
On the topic of open access, it is worth noting that unlike much of the Global North, Latin America has long had a well-developed, non-commercial open access infrastructure. These platforms have given visibility and discoverability for Latin America’s research output and operate a scholar-led no-APC (Article Processing Charge) publicly funded alternative. They represent an attempt to avoid perpetuating a situation where research results concentrate in ‘mainstream’ journals which lack diverse contributions from developing regions.
The main platforms, which can also be found on Cambridge’s A-Z Database List, are:
- Redalyc: Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal, with 1310 journals on the social sciences, humanities and sciences. From their website: “Este esfuerzo nacido en el Sur y para el Sur, […], se abre a todas las revistas del mundo que trabajan por un ecosistema de comunicación de la ciencia inclusivo, equitativo y sustentable.”
- LA Referencia: “The public science and technology agencies of 9 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru) agreed in 2012 to develop national systems of repositories in each country to coordinate funding, training, and to strengthen regional cooperation. It offers 1,431,703 full-text peer-review articles, theses and research reports”.
- Librería Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Ciencias Sociales: where CLACSO’s 2953 open access books are hosted and which includes, amongst others, the collections Biblioteca Ayacucho, Biblioteca Calas and the very recent Biblioteca Pensar la Pandemia.
- AmeliCA: “Launched in November 2018, it has been developed as a response to the specific challenges of delivering open access that are faced by countries in Latin America and the Global South”. It offers 79 journals online, 2848 aggregated books, 1136 journals in AURA and 84489 full-text articles in books and journal portals.
- Latindex: Includes science and technology research journals published in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. It also offers information on journals featuring Latin American-focused topics in other parts of the world.
- SCielo**: Scientific Electronic Library Online. It was created to meet the scientific communication needs of developing countries and provides an efficient way to increase visibility and access to scientific literature. Originally established in Brazil in 1997, today there are 16 countries in the SciELO network and its journal collections, including most Latin American countries plus South Africa and the West Indies.
And a couple of platforms from outside Latin America:
- DOAJ “is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. It was launched in 2003 at Lund University, Sweden. Today, the independent database contains ca. 12000 open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science and humanities.”
- OpenEdition (Freemium) is based in France but it offers a range of open access e-books from some institutions in Latin America, such as the Editorial de la Universidad de Río Negro (Argentina) and the Centro de estudios mexicanos y centroamericanos (Mexico), in Spanish (395) and Portuguese (110).
Some further reading on the topic of Latin American open access and the European Plan S, which requires state-funded research to be published in open repositories or journals by 2021:
Plan S and Open Access in Latin America: Interview with Dominique Babini, CLACSO’s open access advisor, posted on the International Science Council website .
** Latin America’s longstanding open access ecosystem could be undermined by proposals from the Global North, by Eduardo Aguado López and Arianna Becerril García, posted on the LSE Impact Blog. Here we learn that “Scielo has made an agreement with Clarivate Analytics to build the Scielo Citation Index, essentially inserting its journals into the system of impact factors and rankings by letting a for-profit company take advantage of information processed with public resources from Latin America”.
The commercial model of academic publishing underscoring Plan S weakens the existing open access ecosystem in Latin America, by Eduardo Aguado López and Arianna Becerril García, posted on the LSE Impact Blog.