Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

El futuro de las revistas científicas españolas: un esfuerzo científico, social e institucional

M. Díaz, B. Asensio, G. A. Llorente, E. Moreno, Albert Montori, F. Palomares, L. J. Palomo, F. Pulido, J. C. Senar, J. L. Tellería


In spite of the increasingly high level of scientific production by Spanish researchers on terrestrial vertebrate biology, Spanish journals on this topic are, paradoxically, in a delicate situation that seriously threatens their future. This paper surnrnarises the results obtained in an analysis of the current
situation of these journals and their perspectives for the near future: Such results are fully applicable to most scientific journals edited both in Spain and in countries in a similar situation. The international status of a journal determines the quality and quantity of original works that receives and publishes. The quality of the published papers was, in turn, the rnain deterrnining factor of this international status until the appearance of the "impact factors" elaborated by a private company, the North American lnstitute for Scientific lnformation (ISI), The ISI also elaborates a list of journals classified according to their irnpact factors, as well as to a nurnber of inclusion criteria. In spite of the fact that both the irnpact factors and the criteria for inclusion of journals are now under close scrutiny by the scientific cornrnunity, journals not included on this list are considered "non-prestigious". The future of such journals is thus threatened as this " label" prevents scientists frorn subrnitting their good quality papers to thern. Few Spanish scientific journals are included on the list, and the ISI is reluctant to lengthen it unless the journals are new, published in English and, usually, supported by the major publishing houses which monopolise the international rnarket of scientific publications. Most Spanish scientific journals, especially those focused on terrestrial vertebrates, are published by scientific societies integrated by both professional scientists and naturalists interested in the study of these organisrns. The Spanish Administration partially supported some of them in the past through specific funding. In addition, sorne journals were fully supported by public funds, but they have either disappeared or are not published periodically. This situation contradicts the governrnent's objectives to prornote the Spanish language and to obtain returns on the investment in training high-level scientists. On this basis, one way to ensure the long-term rnaintenance of Spanish journals would be to enhance alternatives such as the publication of local studies or the support and training of novel scientists. This option may be carried out by scientific societies thernselves without institutional aid by means of ¡.e. reducing the subscription cost, as far as some disagreernents between the scientific and non-scientific partners were solved properly. However, this would limit the international projection of the Spanish journals. The only alternative would be a social, institutional and political agreement aimed at promoting those Spanish journals, either already established or new, with the best perspectives for international diffusion. The final goal should be the inclusion of these journals on the ISI list. The co-ordinated efforts of scientists, scientific societies and the administration would thus eventually reach the objective of maintaining high-quality scientific journals, one of the main mid-term returns on the investment in science.

Key words: Problems for long-term maintenance, Scientific journals, Scientific policy, Scientific societies, Social and institutional support, Terrestrial vertebrates.

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