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March 15, 2004

UC addresses academic publishing crisis by offering faculty alternatives for publishing research

By Jennifer Colvin
California Digital Library

To address the economic unsustainability of high pricing for scholarly journals, the University of California is providing alternatives to the traditional scholarly communication model through the eScholarship program at the California Digital

"The eScholarship Repository opens new publishing opportunities--the publication process is cheap, and we can get working papers out more quickly than we would with hard copy.”

--Ben Crow, associate professor of sociology and associate director of UCSC's Center for Global, International and Regional Studies

Now, UC faculty in all departments, research units and centers can use the eScholarship Repository to provide free, open access to peer-reviewed journals online.

Since 2002, the eScholarship Repository has offered UC faculty a central, online location for depositing working papers, technical reports, research results and conference proceedings from a wide range of disciplines. Scholars around the world have benefited from the free access to this faculty research. With the eScholarship Repository's new peer-review capability, UC faculty have an alternative to publishing their research in for-profit journals, whose rising costs have become a burden to universities and libraries with shrinking budgets.

The first peer-reviewed journal in the eScholarship Repository is San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, published by the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis.

Other peer-reviewed materials in the eScholarship Repository include papers and edited volumes from the UC International and Area Studies Digital Collection.

The California Digital Library (CDL) expects the number of peer-reviewed papers and journals to grow substantially in coming months, with the addition of scientific monographs and other content from the University of California Press, as well as new journals sponsored by departments at several UC campuses, including InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies.

Additionally, Comitatus, a 34-year-old journal sponsored by the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, will be migrating to the eScholarship Repository this spring.

"We're pleased to see the eScholarship Repository being used in such innovative ways," said Catherine Candee, director of scholarly communication and publishing initiatives. "Scholars are seeing their research disseminated quickly and widely through the repository.

"The open-access journals are only the newest tools that are helping to facilitate the creative and wide use of scientific literature. Upcoming features this spring include support for seminar series and a universitywide post-print service."

With key support provided by the CDL, the University of California has been drawing attention to the growing crisis in scholarly communication and developing sustainable options for the dissemination of research.

As UC faculty and others have joined the movement speaking out against the high cost of many scholarly journals, the eScholarship Repository has seen its numbers grow to nearly 2,600 papers and more than 400,000 downloads of content since its inception.

For example, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UC San Diego has experienced an enormous increase in the use of its working papers over the past year. As of February 2004, the center's papers had been downloaded 13,899 times, an increase of 1,000 percent over the short time the papers have been available.

Ben Crow, an associate professor of sociology at UCSC, has also seen the benefits the eScholarship Repository has provided for the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies. "The eScholarship Repository opens new publishing opportunities--the publication process is cheap, and we can get working papers out more quickly than we would with hard copy,” said Crow, associate director of the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies.

"Plus, we get clear feedback about how often the papers are viewed. We have 20 downloads or more per month for many of our papers, which makes it worthwhile."

The eScholarship Repository is a project of the California Digital Library's eScholarship program at the University of California, which was launched to facilitate innovation and support experimentation in the production and dissemination of scholarship.

The California Digital Library supports the assembly and creative use of scholarship for the University of California libraries and the communities they serve. Established in 1997 as a UC library, the California Digital Library has
become one of the largest digital libraries in the world.

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