Revista em Foco: Latin American Research Review
País de publicação: Estados Unidos
Editora: Latin American Studies Association
Tema: Multidisciplinar, América Latina, Caribe
Periodicidade de publicação: Três vezes por ano
Datas de publicação: 1965 - presente
Processo editorial: Avaliação por pareceristas
Página Web: http://lasa.international.pitt.edu/eng/larr/index.asp
In 2010 the Latin American Research Review announced it would provide open access to its content for people residing in Latin America and the Caribbean. HAPI conducted a brief interview about this initiative with the Editor in Chief of LARR, Philip Oxhorn, over email.
HAPI: What circumstances led the leadership at the Latin American Research Review (LARR) and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), to decide to make its journal content freely available to readers in Latin America and the Caribbean?
PO: The decision to provide open access to LARR for people residing in Latin America and the Caribbean was a natural outgrowth of our desire to transform LARR into a preeminent platform for promoting research exchanges between Northern and Southern academics, as well as among Latin American researchers throughout the region. As the flagship journal of the largest interdisciplinary association of its kind, we not only appreciated the importance of such a role for LARR, but also realized we enjoyed the support of research networks that would be essential for its success. LARR has published in English, Portuguese and Spanish since its inception, and a growing percentage of LASA's membership actually resides in the region. This meant that the people whose research we wanted to disseminate already were well acquainted with high quality that LARR has come to represent. It also meant we had huge potential readership. The challenge was to be able to allow those potential readers to gain access.
The nature of this challenge was reinforced at the 2009 LASA Congress in Rio de Janeiro. The LARR-sponsored panel on Publishing your Research generated a lively discussion of the value of open access publications for promoting the free exchange of knowledge. This is particularly true for Latin America and the Caribbean given the scarcity of resources. In 2009, just 4 percent of universities in Latin America and the Caribbean received LARR through their institutional memberships in LASA, along with the 2.4 percent of universities that had access of back issues of LARR through their participation in Project Muse. Researchers were also able to purchase individual articles through JSTOR at 17.7 percent of the region's universities. Of course, most of LASA's institutional members also belong to Project Muse and JSTOR, so the reality in 2009 was that approximately 80 percent of the Universities in Latin America and the Caribbean did not have ready access to LARR. While the fact that LASA's 2000 individual members received copies of LARR and compensated for this to a certain extent, it was clear that access to LARR was far more restricted than we liked.
At the same time, we were deeply cognizant of the difficulties researchers in the region generally face when trying to gain access to research done in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean or trying to disseminate their own work in other countries. While greater academic exchanges and the internet have begun to break down such barriers, it still remains limited and often ad hoc in nature. There is still no single regional peer-reviewed journal with LARR's prominence that is easily available to all interested researchers. While LARR cannot singlehandedly fill this void, we hope to make an important contribution.
HAPI: In thinking about steps forward, what are the challenges LARR faces in implementing a broader open access initiative?
PO: There are two principal challenges to providing broader open access. The first is one of perception. Open access in the social sciences and humanities is still in its infancy and we do not know how the shift will be perceived. In particular, there is some trepidation to be the first to provide full open access because it might be viewed as lowering LARR's standards for publication. Such a perception would be completely unfounded since the review process would not be changed in any way. Yet there is always a risk in attempting to do something radically different like providing full open access and the decision to do so for residents in Latin America and the Caribbean was seen as a good compromise and strategic experiment to allow us to learn more about the real risks involved.
The second challenge is economic. Providing full open access has significant financial implications. This is true even for LARR, which is in a unique situation compared to most journals. While the bulk of our subscriptions are paid for automatically through individual and institutional LASA memberships, LASA receives substantial royalties through its participation in Project Muse and JSTOR, and this would be lost if we provided full open access. For other journals that are far more dependent on individual and institutional subscriptions, open access would be even more costly. Once again, open access to residents in Latin America and the Caribbean was seen as a good compromise that would minimize the economic implications of open access. This is because of the cost of printing and mailing hardcopies of the journal to the region was fairly high, and we stopped mailing hardcopies to Latin America and the Caribbean once open access became available. At the same time, the loss of revenue from Project Muse and JSTOR would be minimal given their limited availability in Latin America and the Caribbean.
HAPI: While open access initiatives have sprouted throughout Latin America, as far as I know LARR is one of the first journal of its stature in the North to adopt this hybrid model of open access for Latin America and the Caribbean. Do you have any words of advice for journals that might be thinking of following in your footsteps?
PO: While the implications of providing full open access would necessarily require a radical change in almost all journals' business models, providing open access to just Latin American and the Caribbean is surprisingly cost effective. Given low subscription rates and limited access to Project Muse and JSTOR, the impact on revenues is likely to be minimal. Yet our experience suggests that the benefits in terms of knowledge dissemination and prestige are substantial. There were almost 900 universities in the region in 2009, with hundreds of thousands of students and faculty members who would benefit immensely from ready access to cutting-edge research. The feedback we received has only been positive.
HAPI: This initiative acknowledges resource inequalities between scholarly communities in Latin America and the Caribbean and those in the North. Very few universities in Latin America and the Caribbean have had access to LARR through institutional subscriptions, and subsequently many scholars have been excluded from using the important research published in LARR. What are your hopes for this initiative in terms of a more equitable scholarly exchange?
PO: Our hopes are quite high. We believe that quality journals like LARR should be read more widely to serve as a foundation for greater scholarly exchange between the North and the South, but also within the global South. This also benefits our contributors, who share this same fundamental goal and want to be read widely. At the same time, authors in Latin America and the Caribbean who might not have thought of submitting their research to LARR might appreciate the fact that LARR provides them with a platform that is not only international in scope, but that effectively strives to integrate Latin America and the Caribbean into a single academic arena, helping to overcome the often artificial national barriers resulting from the lack of resources.
HAPI: What are the steps a person or institution in Latin America or the Caribbean would have to take to access LARR's content through this initiative?
PO: It could not be any easier. Anyone clicking on the link for LARR Online (http://lasa.international.pitt.edu/eng/larr/article-search.asp) from anywhere in Latin America and the Caribbean will automatically be transferred to the search engine. There is no sign-in page. The LARR website also notes the existence of open access for the region.