Open Digital Repositories
The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific
Ligia E. Setenareski¹, Walter Shima², Marcos Sfair Sunye³ and Letícia M. Peres³
System of Library, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Department of Economics, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Department of Computer Science, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Keywords: Information Technology, Marketplace Competitiveness, Market Structure, Open Digital Repositories.
Abstract: This paper shows how the market structure of scientific publications works and how the free-software
movement and the open source code have expanded and generated new developments in a period of
approximately twenty years, in opposition to an oligopolistic structure. The free-software movement did not
happen by chance, and neither did its subsequent developments. Researchers, tired of contributing towards
the production of scientific articles for private publishers, and also working as reviewers or taking part in
editorial boards, launched many alternatives within the editorial market in clear opposition to the publishing
industry, which has been making handsome profits on packaged periodicals sold to academic libraries.
Some of these alternatives are: the Copyleft and the Creative Commons in opposition to the Copyright; the
Open Access and the Open Digital Repositories of educational and research institutions, freely available on
the internet, opposing to the closed repositories of commercial publishers that offer their database at high
prices; and the creation of h-index, g-index, Google Scholar Citations (GSC) and other impact
measurements that come up against the impact factor controlled by private publishers. In the editorial
process, while educational and research institutions, through their researchers, provide all workforce
necessary for the production, arbitration and editorial board, publishers are in charge of organizing services,
providing reliable browsing on their closed database, and keeping high levels of impact for their
publications. Nowadays, search providers like Google also offer reliable search engines to browse open
digital repositories. Therefore, Google and the Open Digital Repositories, in a symbiotic relationship, can be
in charge of the whole process of scientific publication, as an alternative to oppose the oligopoly of
scientific publishers.
The global market of scientific publishers is
characterized by an oligopolistic structure that
retains their collections of periodicals in closed
digital repositories. Readers normally have access to
content by means of academic libraries, which pay
monopoly prices for subscriptions, usually in
packages of titles of periodicals or through the
purchase of individual articles whose prices are also
too high. The main barrier to entry is the impact
factor, which is a global measure to evaluate
scientific production, of periodicals published by a
dominant group.
Generally, publishers control the entire process of
publication, distribution and the impact index of
their product in this oligopolistic market. Authors
participate in the editorial process for free and
transfer their copyright to publishers. On the
margins of this market there are small publishers
that, due to the size of the barriers, are specialized in
the publication of specific areas of knowledge
(niches). All the competitive dynamics of this
market occurs on the internet. The search for articles
in these repositories can be done through specific
search engines, owned by publishers. In addition,
open technological standards have been responsible
for positive network effects on the spill over.
On the other hand, in an extra-market dynamics,
which is open, public, and does not involve any
barriers to entry, there are open digital repositories,
built and maintained by educational and research
institutions throughout the world, as a tool to
publish, store and retrieve periodicals and articles
produced by academic communities. The emergence
of these repositories represent the development of
Setenareski, L., Shima, W., Sunye, M. and Peres, L.
Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers.
In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2016) - Volume 2, pages 583-593
ISBN: 978-989-758-187-8
2016 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
the free-software movement, which was led by
scientists who were seeking alternatives against the
business model of publications imposed by the
oligopoly. Thus, in spite of not being guided by
market logic, repositories are an important
alternative to oppose major commercial publishers,
since they have been taking an increasing part of
their market. In other words, the repositories, which
have a purely scientific perspective, end up
competing directly with huge commercial publishers
as potential entrants that have increasingly become
Therefore, research institutions and universities,
producers of scientific content, soon realized the
benefits of using the digital repositories freely in
order to get a global visibility of this content. This
has been fully supported by Google that is highly
interested in expanding its content to reach a greater
number of users. Thereby, a network of repositories
has been evolving, linked by protocols and with
benefits such as visibility as well as the share of
content available. This work aims to analyse the
free-software movement, which has created
alternatives for the publication of scientific content,
out of the oligopoly of big publishers. The
methodology adopted in this study, since the theme
has a worldwide scope, was to research the literature
available, considering specific and related topics of
analysis. The period of time delimited for the search
was between the second half of 1980 until mid-2013.
The companies or institutions that adopt standards
and technologies may, consequently, have the
effects of network externalities. The network,
whether real or virtual, has a fundamental economic
characteristic, which is the dependent value of the
number of people who are already connected to
them. The proposition of a network value may be
named as follows: network effects, network
externalities or economies of scale on the demand
side. The externalities arise when a market
participant affects others without the payment of
compensation (Shapiro and Varian, 1999). The
network externalities are fundamentally based on
Metcalfe's Law, (a well-known law in the field of
Information Technology, created by Robert
Metcalfe, the co-inventor of Ethernet and the
founder of 3Com) “the value of the network is
proportional to the square of the number of users.”
Externalities have two poles: negative and positive.
The positive feedback strengthens the strong
competitor and weakens the weak one, leading to
extreme results such as market dominance by a
single company or technology. In other words,
success breeds success and failure breeds failure,
which is the essence of the positive feedback
(Shapiro and Varian, 1999). The positive feedback
and the network externalities have been considered
essential for the communications and transportation
sectors for a long time where companies need to
compete to expand their network, and a network can
dramatically increase the market value of these
companies by being interconnected to another
network. The opposite pole of the positive feedback
is the negative feedback. When a process of negative
feedback occurs, the strong competitor becomes
weak, and the weak competitor becomes strong;
both being pushed into a middle ground (Shapiro
and Varian, 1999).
An oligopolistic market is composed of few firms
that hold substantial portions of the market, which
only perpetuates through barriers to entry, such as:
patents, distribution channels, economies of scale
and capital, pricing levels, and product
differentiation. Although the barriers to entry have
been depicted in the literature for nearly 80 years
(Possas, 1999), the nature and extent of these
barriers only succeeded in terms of analysis after a
study carried out by (Bain, 1956). That study (Bain,
1956) resulted in valuable contributions, such as: the
introduction of a dynamic perspective regarding the
analysis of markets; the realisation that firms in
oligopoly take the external or potential competition
into account for their strategy; and a demand for a
redefinition of the conventional instruments of
analysis in order to suit them to a long-term
perspective. Furthermore, considering specifically
the price as a barrier to entry, suggests measuring
the level of this barrier through a markup, i.e., the
relation between the highest price that prevents the
entry, or the minimum price that allows the entry,
and the competitive price.
This measure can assess how established firms
can raise prices, above the competitive price,
without letting new firms enter the market. In turn,
(Possas, 1999) it is possible to establish a theoretical
relation between prices and barriers to entry, in a
generic way, since the desire to prevent the entry is a
pricing strategy of firms that are established in the
ICEIS 2016 - 18th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
market. This pricing strategy has two objectives: 1)
to fix prices and to establish the production volume
in order to prevent the competition with small and
medium-sized entrants, or at least to limit this kind
of competition, seeking to enhance distribution over
time; 2) to discourage the competition with big
entrants that intend to establish themselves more
efficiently in terms of scales, which would threaten
the oligopolistic equilibrium and, hence, generate a
price war among established firms. However, this
kind of discouragement may not be necessarily tied
to price set by the market.
3.1 The Market Structure of Scientific
Although the market of scientific publications,
especially the market of periodicals, is dominated by
few large global publishers that establish all kinds of
barriers to entry, there are on the sidelines of this
market over 2,000 small publishers specialize in
different areas of knowledge, and which meet a
specific and specialized audience (McGuigan and
Russell, 2008). In this global market, global
publishers, through their sales representatives, sell
their periodicals all around the world and, therefore,
control the distribution channels. The target market
of these globalized publishers is the libraries and the
researchers from academic communities, universities
and research institutions. Researchersplay an
important role in this partnership, since the
publication of scientific periodicals is only possible
with the participation of researchers as authors or
reviewers of other researchers’ papers, which is
called peer review or refereeing. Researchers can
also take part in the editorial board. This kind of
work is usually free of charge for publishers, who
later sell such periodicals to libraries.
3.2 Types of Barriers to Entry
In this market structure, the barriers to entry are
organized as follows: a) the authors transfer their
copyright to publishers and, for this reason, are
obliged to pay for the access of their published
content; b) the readers who are not members of any
academic community, which provides the access to a
library, cannot afford any content, given the prices
charged for single articles; c) potential entrants
cannot enter the market because the established
firms control the distribution channels, sell their
periodicals in packages to libraries, and control the
impact factor of publications. Not only does the
academic community read the content of these
periodicals but also cite them, ensuring an increasing
positive impact factor for these periodicals, which
hinders the entry of new periodicals from potential
publishers with low impact.
Figure 1: The structure of closed digital repositories in the
market of scientific publications.
A report of the European Commission empha-
sizes that the main barrier is still the ability of new
journals to attract a group of publishers, reviewers
and authors. Even when a new journal can attract a
selected group of distinguished scholars, it is going
to take time for it to be recognized since its
reputation has not been established yet. Secondly,
even if the entry of new periodicals is facilitated, the
access to the stock of knowledge is historically
controlled by publishers; partly because they own
the copyright of authors (European Commission,
2006). Figure 1 above illustrates the structure of
closed digital repositories in the market of scientific
publications, as described before.
3.3 The Market Structure of Scientific
The market of scientific publications is divided into
non-profit and for-profit publishers. Some examples
of non-profit companies, associations and
universities are the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Oxford
University Press. For-profit publishers dominate this
market. The journal business is characterized by a
relatively inelastic demand, with individual journals
that usually have strong support within their
particular niche. The market natural niche and the
rapid growth of budgets for academic libraries
Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers
resulted in the expansion of the market of scientific
publications, in such a way that no other market has
grown so fast in the media industry over the last
fifteen years (Morgan Stanley, 2002). North-
American university libraries represent about 60%
of the global market of an industry of $ 7 billion
dollars, in which Reed Elsevier (Elsevier Science) is
the market leader. Along with Elsevier, five other
publishers - Wolters Kluwer, Blackwell,
Bertelsmann, Wiley, and Taylor & Francis - account
for 37% of the best-rated periodicals and 44% of
published articles.
The academic publication depends on an unusual
economic model, in which the necessary input
(articles and editorial services) for the publishing
business is provided at no cost. The situation is even
more unusual since colleges and universities, which
purchase journals, partially subsidize the production
of journals by paying the salaries of teachers,
authors and publishers. Publishers have a
mediatingrole in the industry. They collect, pack and
disseminate articles produced by academic authors.
The main users of journals are the same group that
produced their content, i.e., the academic teaching
staff. Thus, the content is consumed by professors /
researchers, who produce more content, and the
cycle goes on. Academic libraries acquire and
provide access to journals. They work as agents for
Figure 2: The traditional process of publication, sale and
dissemination of scientific journals.
both the academic staff, who demand certain provide
access to journals. They work as agents for both the
academic staff, who demand certain journals, and
the university administrators, who provide the
budget for the purchase of volumes.
Thereby, considering that publishers act just as
intermediaries between the production process and
its dissemination, there has been an abusive charge
for published articles (McGuigan and Russell,
2008). While the access to newspapers, such as The
Times and The Sunday Times, is £ 1.00 for a period
of twenty-four hours, in which the user has the right
to read and download any articles, the cost to access
a publisher’s single scientific article is: Elsevier
($ 31.50), Springer (Euro 34.95) and Wiley-
Blackwell ($ 42.00). Moreover, publishers
perpetually retain the copyright of their publications
(Monbiot, 2011). Figure 2 below illustrates how a
traditional publication process of scientific journals
The market of publications of scientific journals is
also characterized by the Impact Factor (IF), which
is a measure that evaluates the quality of journals
(Pritchard, 1969). Also known as Impact Index or
Citation Index, the Impact Factor is published as a
periodical by dominating publishers in this
oligopolistic market. Only two major publishers,
providers of the Impact Factor, concentrate the
market of publications: Thomson ISI, which
publishes the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), and
Elsevier, which publishes the SCImagoJournal
Ranking Indicator (SJR). Not only do these
companies publish the Impact Factor of other major
publishers, but also start to enter the market of open
access publications. It is a hybrid model, in which
dominant publishers accept open publications in
their closed repositories (database) and provide the
Impact Index of these publications. An example of
this model is the Web of Science (WOS) database of
Thomson Reuters that provides the Impact Factor
through the JCR, which currently contains 12,000
journals, including open access journals such as
PLoS One (Web of Science, 2013).
Another example of this model is the partnership
formed in 2012 between Thomson and the Scientific
Electronic Library Online (SciELO), which is the
ICEIS 2016 - 18th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 3: The Oligopolized Market of Impact Factors.
largest open digital repository in Brazil. Thomson
hosted SciELO database in its repository, the Web of
Knowledge. This partnership aimed to provide better
visibility and access to research in emerging
economies. Nowadays, SciELO publishes
approximately 40,000 new articles every year in
more than 900 open access journals in Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico,
Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Venezuela. It
also provides 650 titles and more than 4 million
cited references at the database WOS, which
originated the SciELO Citation Index (Thomson
Reuters, 2013). With this partnership, SciELO
started using the Impact Factor from Thomson in its
repository, provided by JCR. Regarding the metric
used by Thomson, the Impact Factor can only be
established after two years of publication; hence, as
from 2014, SciELO begins to obtain conclusive
results relative to the number of citations in its
publications. Thus, the Brazilian Research Council
(CAPES - Coordination of the Qualification of
Higher Education Personnel), uses the metric of
Thomson to assess the scientific production.
Another relevant aspect of this competitive
dynamics, taking the Impact Factor into account,
refers to network effects that act as barriers to entry.
For instance: researchers from universities and
research institutions throughout the world need to
publish the outcome of their work, since it is
indicative of quality for future professional
assessments. The higher the Impact Factor of
journals is, the greater the likelihood of obtaining a
favourable assessment and posterior career
opportunities is. This kind of incentive does generate
positive network externalities, which favour
publications in journals by dominant publishers. In
addition, the publication of an article in a journal
with a high Impact Factor will certainly cause this
article to be read and cited more, which will
ultimately contribute towards the author’s Impact
Index as well. Figure 3 above illustrates the market
of Impact Factors, controlled by the major
publishers of closed repositories; the researchers
who need to publish the outcome of their research;
the metrics that are used for the analysis of citations;
and the search engines owned by major publishers,
responsible for seeking content.
4.1 The Dynamics of Prices for
Publications in an Oligopoly
The report by the European Commission shows that
the scientific publications have become a significant
global economic activity and the core of the editorial
market (science, technology and medicine) is
estimated between $ 7 and 11 billion. The price of
scientific journals, which has increased
considerably, has been a constant topic of discussion
over the past 30 years. In the period between 1975
and 1995, which is known as ‘the crisis of
periodicals’, journal prices have increased by 200%
to 300% above inflation. The price rise was followed
by a reduction in the number of subscriptions by
researchers and libraries. Journal prices far exceeded
the natural evolution of the library budgets and such
a pressure resulted in the decrease of journal
subscriptions. As of 1995, as a result of the
evolution of the Information and Communications
Technology (ICT), publishers started to adopt the
digital distribution and provide access to their
journals online through high performance research
platforms (European Commission, 2006).
Consequently, new technologies and the Internet
have enhanced the accessibility of scientific
publications by, but the actual access to literature
still depends on the capacity of the libraries to
afford subscriptions. Journal prices have risen faster
than inflation, but at a slower pace in comparison to
the previous 20 years. The digital distribution has
allowed the introduction of new business models,
which resulted in significant changes in pricing
policies on periodicals. Individual prices and the
sales of journals were transformed into "Big Deals",
i.e., the sales of packages of journals, whose prices
vary from place to place, can also range from
annual subscriptions to licenses that last for several
years. Then, the libraries started to join together as a
group in order to form a consortium so they could
share the benefits of access and improve their
bargaining positions against publishers. In general,
Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers
packaging has two effects: a) it can narrow or
broaden the consumers’ choice in the short term,
and b) it can restrict entry in the long term
(European Commission, 2006). In his blog
(Gowers’s Weblog, 2012), William Timothy
Gowers, a British mathematician and Professor at
Cambridge University, the winner of the Medal
‘Fields’ of the American Mathematical Society,
criticized the commercial practices of Elsevier. He
firmly states that he will no longer take part in
publications and condemns the business practices of
Elsevier: a) prices are too high, far above average;
b) There are tying sales (a practice condemned by
the antitrust law), which force libraries to purchase
a package without being given the choice to choose
the journals they want to subscribe. The libraries,
which survive on a tight budget and, therefore,
cannot afford a reasonable number of subscriptions,
are not the only sufferers in this market. Other
publishers have also suffered its effects, which is, of
course, part of the motivation for the scheme c) if
libraries try to negotiate better deals, Elsevier
remains implacable in its opposition, threatening to
cut the access to all its periodicals; and d) Elsevier
supports measures such as: the Research Works
Act, an American bill that tries to stop the Open
Access movement for researches financially
supported by the federal government. Furthermore,
Elsevier supports the Stop Online Piracy Act
(SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), having
exerted pressure on their existence.
Gowers's boycott against Elsevier began to spread
in the academia and on February 4, 2012, The
Economist called this movement Academic Spring
(The Economist, 2012).The Cost of Knowledge is a
site where researchers can enter to boycott Elsevier
by checking the services they intend not to provide.
These services are: Publication, arbitration or
editorial work. Nowadays, 13,832 researchers from
all areas of knowledge and from several parts of the
world have already signed the boycott (The Cost of
Knowledge, 2013).
4.2 The Open Access Movement for the
Publication of Scientific Content in
Opposition to Traditional
A new initiative to share open academic journals for
free through repositories emerged from the free-
software movement, the creation and subsequent
availability of technological standards, and the
creation of software for interoperable open
repositories. This initiative started from the late 90s
as a worldwide movement, in which several
countries, academic and research institutions, and
funding agencies took part. This movement was
named Open Access - OA and its main requirement
was the right to have free access to scientific content
from open repositories. This access was also thought
to be free in relation to the restrictions imposed by
the copyright. The issue of open access to scientific
information has led some countries to discuss the
regulation for the implementation of institutional
repositories. In addition, researchers from all fields
of knowledge will probably face a change of
paradigm while major publishers will have to take
into account unavoidable changes in their policies
(Carvalho, 2009).
In the OA model, the process of scientific
publication, especially periodicals, occurs as
follows: a) the institutions take charge of the
necessary conditions for their researchers by paying
their salaries and keeping adequate physical
facilities such as furniture and equipment as well as
laboratories and digital repository; b) the
researchers/authors are responsible for activities
related to articles, peer review and the editorial
process for the publication in the open repository; c)
libraries deal with the maintenance and recovery of
content kept in a repository, which provides support
to researchers in relation to the dissemination of
content, and also provides a better use of this
informational resource available. Thereby,
researchers, who are also the main readers, will read,
cite and produce new texts, continuing the process.
In this model, all articles are available in creative
commons or copyleft licenses instead of copyright,
which will give the authors the right to retain their
copyright, without any transfer. In other words, the
institutions along with their libraries and the
academic community will be in charge of the whole
process, without the involvement of oligopolized
publishers as intermediaries in the organization of
editorial activities and dissemination of content, as
illustrated in Figure 4.
The adoption of open standards and the OA
movement were instrumental in the development of
software for digital repositories that emerged after
the arXiv, the first open repository (Luce RE, 2001)
that represents a philosophy of publication within
the free-software movement. By allowing service
providers and search providers scan their database,
the open repositories have fostered the emergence of
tools that allow measuring the impact of publications
within these repositories, out of the oligopoly of
traditional publications. Nowadays, the system of
electronic journal management and the system of
ICEIS 2016 - 18th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 4: The process of publication and dissemination of
scientific journals in open access.
digital libraries more used are, respectively: OJS
( and DSpace (
They adopt open standards that facilitate the
implementation of impact measurement
4.3 H Index, G Index and Other
Impact Factors out of the Oligopoly
of Publishers
The term Impact Factor (IF) was created by Eugene
Garfield in 1955 (Garfield, 2006).Over the years, it
has been used generically as an impact index of
citations, referring to an author’s impact factor, for
example, or any bibliographic material. The Citation
Impact is the measurement of the number of
citations in an article. The average citation impact by
article can also be used for collections, authors,
periodicals, institutions, etc. Until the early 2000s,
there were only impact indexes controlled by closed
commercial publishers in the market, but as of 2000,
several other tools were created and made available
in the market, as an alternative for researchers,
publishers and institutions that need to assess the
quality of publications.
Other databases that index quotes have emerged
and are vying for the ISI space (Institute for
Scientific Information/Thomson Reuters) in the
business of information generation to measure the
impact of scientific publications (Mugnaini and
Strehl, 2008). Among these tools to measure impact,
there are the Citebase, 2001 (Brody, 2003); the h
index, 2005 (Hirsch, 2005), the G-Index, 2006
(Google Scholar, 2013), the GSC, and the GSM
(Google Scholar, 2013). The software Publish or
Perish was also developed and made available in the
market. Besides being free of charge this software
tracks and measures impact by using all the tools
mentioned above (Publish or Perish, 2013).
The arXiv, as well as other open digital
repositories that have emerged after it, represent
alternative tools that are used for the publication of
scientific production in universities and research
institutions around the world. Due to these tools,
thousands of researchers around the world were able
to show the outcome of their work openly and free
of charge. Similarly, the dissemination of content
from repositories was made by service and search
providers. The increase in the visibility has led some
researchers to develop tools to measure the impact
of content in the academia. All these impact metrics
show the concern and the efforts of many scientists
at creating new alternatives as well as making them
available in the market for free, opposing to
traditional measurements of impact controlled by
scientific publishers. Thus, open repositories along
with free search engines and impact indexes free of
charge have spread globally.
Figure 5 illustrates the open market of impact
indexes, created as an alternative to the impact factor
controlled by the oligopoly; the relationship between
this market and the researchers, who need to publish
the outcome of their work; the relationship between
this market and the repositories, where these metrics
are used for the analysis of citations; and also the
Figure 5: The open market of impact index.
Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers
relationship with Google, responsible for searching
the content to be analysed.
4.4 The Impact Index of Private
Publications versus Public
The outcome of the comparisons between the impact
of open and closed publications, including the
metrics used for these comparisons, is still very
incipient. The studies that will be discussed below
refer to specific analyses such as: the comparison of
the impact of publications, both in the repository of
Thomson and ArXiv; the boycott in which
researchers take part against the impact factor of
Thomson; and the ranking of open publications
measured by Google.
The Internet, as an open database, is allowing
users to generate statistics of citation of researches
published free of charge (Butler, 2008). The Open
access is cooperating with giants like Elsevier,
inserting data from its publications on Scopus base,
a database of abstracts created by Elsevier in 2004.
Elsevier also owns the database The SCImago
Journal & Country Rank that makes the analysis of
data stored in the Scopus, concerning the data
mining from the universities of Granada,
Extremadura, Carlos III and Alcalá de Henares, all
in Spain. This database classifies periodicals and
countries that use citation metrics such as H Index,
and also includes a new metric: the SCImago
Journal Rank (SJR). It is difficult to compare the
results of the analyses of SJR with other impact
factors because their database is different.
And, on the other hand, Google Scholar has
already indexed much more from the literature than
the Web of Knowledge or Scopus (Butler D, 2011).
Thomson holds a monopoly on the number of
citations per year and its subscription products
include the Web of Science, the Journal Citation
Report, and the Essential Science Indicators.
However, researchers are negotiating with Thomson,
requesting greater transparency on how the citation
metrics are calculated and on its datasets as well
(Butler D, 2008). In an editorial published in the
Journal of Cell Biology, the head of Rockefeller
University Press and colleagues said that their
analysis of database provided by Thomson showed
different values for the metrics in comparison to
those published by this company (Rossner M, Van
Epps H, Hill E, 2007). And Thomson opened a web
forum to formally respond to this editorial (Thomson
Reuters, 2014).
In 2004, James Pringle, vice president for
development, academic markets, and government of
Thomson ISI, USA, conducted a study on the impact
factor of the entire content of Web of Science,
concerning closed and open access. At that time, the
base had 8,509 closed access journals and 191 open
access journals (Harnad and Brody, 2004). A
rigorous selection was made in this study and only
the journals that were directly accessible on the
Internet, without any cost, fitted the concept of open
access. Among them there were different types of
journals, such as: the BMJ, with a long history and
prestige that migrated to this new model of open
publication; and the Brazilian Journal of
Microbiology, an important regional journal that
uses open access as a way to expand global
awareness. There are several ways to make the
access open and the objectives of each publisher can
be different (Pringle, 2004). The outcome of this
study points out that the open access does neither
result in more nor fewer citations in these journals,
since the increase in the number of readers of
journals does not change the relevance of a
researcher’s article and its fundamental value in a
journal. Moreover, it does not seem that the increase
in the number of potential readers will necessarily
change a journal impact.
However,two researchers disagree with Pringle
when he says that open access journals and non-
open access journals have the same impact.
According to these authors, the comparison was
made between only 2% of OA journals indexed by
the ISI (191), against 98% of non-OA journals
(8,509)(Harnad S, Brody T,2004). New study was
made using the citation database ISI, on a CD-
ROM, with references of 7,000 journals from 1991
to 2001 and the content of The CD-ROM
ISI had the metadata and references of 14 million
articles, and the base, in January 2004,
had 260,000 complete texts of e-prints. From this
amount, 95,012 articles were found both in the ISI
and arXiv database. The comparison between Open
Access and Non-Open Access articles, in all
Physics fields, from 1992 to 2001, showed that the
superiority of Open Access Citation Impact Ratios,
increases from 253% in 1992, to 557% in
2001(Brody et al., 2004). The access is not a
sufficient condition for citation, but it is necessary.
The OA dramatically increases the number of
potential users by just allowing them to access a
particular article, which otherwise would not be
possible due to its high cost. Thereby, the OA
increases both the use and the impact (Harnad and
Brody, 2004).
ICEIS 2016 - 18th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
On December 16, 2012, during the annual
meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology
(ASCB), the San Francisco Declaration on Research
Assessment, (known as DORA), was presented and
signed by more than 150 researchers and 75
academic institutions such as the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. This
declaration was a response to the urgent need to
improve the ways in which the production of
scientific research is assessed by development
agencies, academic institutions and other parties. As
a general recommendation, the metrics based on
journals, such as Journal Impact Factors (Thomson
Reuters), should neither be used as a measure of
quality of individual research articles, nor in
decisions related to hiring, promotion and funding
(DORA, 2012).
Another source of tension between publishers and
researchers is the lack of access to database of
journals, even for those who have paid for it. On 22
May 2013, researchers and librarians withdrew from
the European Commission's negotiations on this
subject because the publishers, supported by the
copyright, did not allow the access to their closed
database. While researchers and librarians long to
see thousands of articles and research content online
through closed or open access, perform data
extraction, build a single research database, and
establish association standards, e.g., between genes
and diseases, the publishers, in turn, fear that their
content may be redistributed for free, which makes
them block search programs, even for institutions
that have paid for the access to their database (Van
Noorden, 2013). For these reasons, publishers begin
to realize that the market is changing and that the
alternative of open access is breaking the barriers to
entry, regarding the publication, the distribution, the
dissemination, and the access of scientific journals
by readers, as well as the impact factor of these
This paper analyses how the market structure of
scientific publications work and how open digital
repositories have become a viable alternative to
rebalance this market. In fact, the symbiosis between
the services provided by major search engines and
the ideals espoused by the open access and free-
software movements have created an environment
that is so favourable that the scientific market
behaviour has completely changed in less than 15
years. These movements have emerged from the
establishment of major search engines as a
centralizing element to recover scientific papers,
ensuring the recovery of relevant information
through an exhaustive scan of the Web. At the same
time, open access movements, originated by free-
software movements, have provided the scientific
community with high quality software for content
file. Academic institutions promptly began to create
large repositories of high quality scientific content.
Subsequently, the open file software has
established interoperability standards of scientific
files that were quickly assimilated by major search
engines. Through these new standards, major search
engines not only add visibility to open scientific
content, but also decode and highlight this content,
through open standards of large repositories, which
are managed by the academic community. The third
and last movement sets new impact indexes that are
measured through all scientific data available on the
Internet opposing to the traditional impact indexes
controlled by the oligopoly of major publishers. The
process of generation, retrieval and classification of
scientific information, which was a privilege of
publishers for more than a century, began to be
carried out on the open internet. Such a system deals
with a vast amount of scientific information
provided free of charge by major academic
On the other hand, the oligopoly of publishers
still has the full power over the market of scientific
publication as follows: a) publishers own the
authors’ copyright - regarding the oligopoly of
periodicals, the copyright is transferred from authors
to the publishers when an article is accepted for
publication, though there are some differences in
concept, legislation and treatment from one country
to another; b) publishers control the distribution
channels - sales representatives throughout the world
sell their packages of periodicals to their most
important customers, the academic libraries; c) the
libraries provide these periodicals to researchers,
promoting their use; d) researchers read the content
of periodicals and cite them; e) publishers obtain a
high rate of citations for their periodicals.
Thus, the control cycle is closed in regard to the
publication of journals and the citation impact. In the
future, the repositories will probably change this
traditional model in which publishers fulfil both
functions of certification and dissemination. The
certification of periodicals is currently done through
editorial work and peer review while their
dissemination is achieved through search providers
like Google.
It is fundamental, however, the analysis of new
Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers
studies on open digital repositories in order to
contribute towards this paper, such as: a) a study on
an eventual lock -in of technologies linked to open
digital repositories, due to technical, economic and
institutional aspects. This could adversely affect the
storage and availability of digital content; b)
Analyses of public policies on storage and access to
digital scientific content stored on open digital
repositories, with a focus on technical, political and
economic interests. These interests involve
technological standards, trajectories of storage, and
distribution technologies of digital content; c) An
evaluation of the social impact on open digital
repositories regarding research development and the
number of published papers by researchers from
underdeveloped or developing countries; d) a survey
on incentive measures for innovation that are
promoted by the free access to scientific literature of
open digital repositories, and posterior assessment of
these measures. This study shows that the visibility
of open repositories and their growing impact index
have demanded an efficient and neutral search
engine to provide the necessary information. Any
change in this current business model of search
engines, or in the concept of Net Neutrality will
influence the OA community. The analysis of this
study is vital and so is the establishment of new
paths for the development of open repositories, if the
concept of net neutrality is reassessed.
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Open Digital Repositories - The Movement of Open Access in Opposition to the Oligopoly of Scientific Publishers