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October 24, 2020

Science Cast

Bridging the gap between Scientists and the Public

Open is not forever: Over 170 Scientific Journals disappeared, 900 at risk

2 min read
Most of them went underground after 5 years of inactivity but some would bid adios under a year of no publishing. There are 900 more journals that are currently inactive. In the next five years, this would be gone too. With the continued ignorance of funding open access journals, I am note sure my kids would live to read any of my scientific work.

Credit: Phys.org

Imagine if you woke up one day and you can’t find your work online. This is your manuscript we are talking about. Some PhD stuff you have been working on for five years. 1-5 years in, there is no evidence you did such work. Gone!

Everyday, I worry about published content on this site would one day vanish from the internet. A lot of content in websites have dissapeared when the owner of the site doesn’t pay for hosting or renew ownership of the domain name: e.g sciencecast.co.ke.

Sharing scientific discoveries through scientific papers led to the invention of the Web. When the content is open access, then information is shared across with no restrictions meaning advancement in research.

Doing research in any subject takes a lot of time and energy. Sharing results means sharing knowledge for someone else to build on one’s research. This sharing has led to the rapid advancement of science and technology, thanks to internet.

According to a study done by Matthias and Laakso (27 August 2020), 176 Open access Scientific journals have vanished from the internet in the past 2 decades. Most of them were social sciences and humanities but life, health, physical sciences and mathematics journals weren’t spared. This doesn’t include subscription journals, meaning there is more than what meets the eye.

Most of them went underground after 5 years of inactivity but some would bid adios under a year of no publishing. There are 900 more journals that are currently inactive. In the next five years, this would be gone too. With the continued ignorance of funding open access journals, I am note sure my kids would live to read any of my scientific work.

There are digital archives that journals can subscribe to for their content to be duplicated but that requires an annual fee too. There is only one free archive, PKP PN which requires the journal to apply to be supported. The underfunding of preservation initiatives will kill the hard work people put in place to do research and will slow down advancement in science and Technology.

I can’t imagine repeating work done before that would have otherwise helped me save time and build on the researched item. Worse still, I get scared of the thought that my big jackpot and breakthrough in my research is hidden inside a subscription journal. Forget everything I said and imagine not being to publish work that would lead to eradication of cancer simply because I lacked publishing fee.

It’s time we supported open access initiatives with a little bit more vigor.

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