This text is part of the special booklet 90th Acfas Congress
Anyone who wants to consult a scientific journal can easily do so since these publications, formerly accessible by subscription, have today, for the vast majority of them, adopted the open access mode. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection.
In Quebec, the passage of scientific journals to open access is the result of the efforts made by the Érudit project, the first draft of which dates back to 1998. Érudit is a consortium between the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université Laval, and its activities are subsidized by the Fonds de recherche du Québec — Société et culture, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. In addition to offering services to publishers of scholarly publications and libraries, Érudit serves primarily as a platform for the dissemination of scientific journals.
A bit of history
Scientific journals are not new. Some, like fame New England Journal of Medicine, are more than 200 years old. For nearly two centuries, scholarly journals have operated on a subscription model. “But the cost of the subscription varied greatly depending on the publication and its publisher,” explains Vincent Larivière, full professor at the School of Library and Information Science at the Université de Montréal. If it was a publisher whose operation was essentially based on volunteers, the subscription remained accessible, but if the publisher maintained a permanent infrastructure, the subscription could become unaffordable, except for certain public institutions. Mr. Larivière will be chairing a symposium at the Acfas Congress which will focus precisely on scholarly publications, in particular on the transition to open access.
In the early 1990s, the world of publishing underwent a major upheaval with the arrival of digitization, and the world of scholarly publishing was no exception. “Scientific journals that had good financial means were able to make the transition to digitization, but this was not the case for small publishers, emphasizes Vincent Larivière. This imbalance allowed the emergence of commercial publishers who could afford to pay for digitization. It was the arrival of these commercial publishers that pushed scientific and scholarly publishing towards open access, a question of ensuring that knowledge could be accessible to as many people as possible.
The curious reader can go to the Érudit website (apropos.erudit.org) and see for himself that with a few clicks of the mouse, he can have access to more than 300 scientific and cultural journals. All disciplines are represented there: from the arts to the humanities, including the social sciences and the pure sciences. “Nearly 98% of the content broadcast on the Érudit platform is now open access,” says Mr. Larivière. The remaining 2% represent publications that maintain the principle of subscription for the publication during the year, previous years being open access. »
Initially, the publications distributed by Érudit were essentially Quebec journals—this is, moreover, one of the organization’s mandates. But the consortium has forged partnerships, among others with the Public Knowledge Project, a Canadian organization with the same objectives as Érudit, to form Coalition Publica, which now allows Érudit to offer all Canadian scientific publications. In addition, to compensate for the lack of financial contribution made by subscription, Érudit has set up the Partnership for Open Access, supported by the majority of Canadian university libraries, in order to financially support Canadian scientific journals that choose free access.
Still unknown to the general public, the Érudit distribution platform is nevertheless enjoying a certain popularity. “Last year, 30 million downloads were made from the Érudit platform, says Vincent Larivière, and 70% of these requests come from abroad. This is eloquent proof of the quality of Canadian and Quebec scientific publications. »
The next step is to expand Érudit’s corpus through partnerships. “For example, France has its own open-access platform that you can consult. With a partnership, one could eventually freely access the content of both platforms from one platform or the other. »
This special content was produced by the Special Publications team of the Duty, relating to marketing. The drafting of Duty did not take part.