Open Access and the findability challenge

The movement for open access publishing of scholarly publications has come a long way. Open access (OA) is good. It means that research results is not hidden behind paywalls, accessible at universities willing to pay for the journals or books. OA means free. However, OA does not mean the content is findable, it just mean it is accessible when it is found. That is a huge difference in this information-overloaded world. For useful OA it has to be at least as findable as non-free publications.

Commercial academic publishers like Elsevier and Springer knows how to act within the information ecology of scholarly publications. Their publications get good metadata and unique identifiers as DOI for identification and linking. They send meta data to vendors of link resolvers and discovery services. They might even add links to OA articles (hybrid OA) in PubMed. Metadata is spread and the possibility for easy access is optimized, all for increased findability and discoverability. Access to the full text is another issue. It might be hidden behind a paywall.

Non-commercial Open Access publishers faces the same challenges of findability. The word has to be spread for findability, the access is free. The challenge is not to sell, to motivate buyers (libraries and single researchers), but to be visible in search engines and subject databases. The world is not equal. It takes knowledge and hard work be findable in the academic information ecology. Even the smallest OA publisher has to do the homework of findability. Otherwise someone else has to do it if we shall benefit from the open access. The access does not matter if the publication is not found…

 

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