Science 3 min read

Open-Access Journals Disappear From the Internet

Mohamed_hassan |

Mohamed_hassan |

A study led by Mikael Laakso of Hanken School of Economics has revealed that 176 open-access journals vanished in the past two decades.

“We found 176 OA journals that, through lack of comprehensive and open archives, vanished from the web between 2000-2019, spanning all major research disciplines and geographic regions of the world,” Laakso said.

According to Laakso and his colleagues, over half of the said journals were in the humanities and social sciences. Others were from the life sciences, health sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics. Around 80 of the missing open-access journals were said to be associated with a research institution or scholarly society.

“With print publications, the responsibility rested primarily with librarians, but the shift towards digital publishing and, in particular, the introduction of open access (OA) have caused ambiguity and complexity,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“Consequently, the long-term accessibility of journals is not always guaranteed, and they can even disappear from the web completely.”

Open-Access Journals are not Forever

During their research, Laakso and his team found that the vanished open-access journals went inactive for many years first. Then, they eventually disappeared.

According to the researchers, 112 of the journals only disappeared between 2010 and 2014, which was way higher than the two periods combined (64 journals).

Table of vanished open-access journals categorized based on last publication year
Vanished Open-Access Journals Categorized Based on Last Publication Year | Table taken from arXiv:2008.11933v3 / Mikael Laakso, et al.

The researchers were also able to determine how long the vanished journals had been publishing before becoming inactive. More than half of the open-access journals (92) stopped publishing after five years or less. However, ten of the OA journals had publishing activity of 15 years or more.

Publication History of the Vanished Open-Access Journals
Publication History of the Vanished Open-Access Journals | Table taken from arXiv:2008.11933v3 / Mikael Laakso, et al.

About 52.3 percent of the vanished journals were from the social sciences and humanities. Furthermore, 33 percent of the journals in the sample were from the health sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics. The remaining 14.8 percent was from life sciences.

The researchers didn’t include subscription journals in their study. Doing so would require a different method of data collection. The team noted that because of this and other limitations, the figure of vanished journals could be much greater.

“Open is not forever, and so we close with a note on the urgent need for collaborative action in preserving digital resources and preventing the loss of more scholarly knowledge,” Laakso and his team concluded.

A copy of the study is available here.

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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