Scholarly journals published by academic societies have to struggle through the complex publishing landscape in order to maximise their visibility, discoverability and usage. This is due to the fact that these journals are either being hosted on non-robust platforms such as society websites or maintained by commercial publishers with content that is behind pay wall or against costly article processing charges.
To support Open Access, the University of Malta (UM) Library has implemented the first Institutional Repository on the island - OAR@UM. The underlying principle of this project was to provide an electronic platform whereby academics and researchers can upload their research output in Open Access.
This enhances the visibility, as well as, ensures long-term preservation of the intellectual output of the UM. Additionally, owing to the fact that OAR@UM is the sole repository on the island, it also serves as a National Repository.
Since the launch of OAR@UM, the UM Library has been approached by various academic departments within the UM and other National professional societies to host their journals in our established repository. In 2018, it was decided to support these small but well-respected professional societies and subsequently, created a Maltese Journals Collection in OAR@UM.
OAR@UM is heavily used and highly valued by researchers. As at December 2018, circa 31500 items have been uploaded in OAR@UM. These include over 11600 peer-reviewed research articles, approximately 2500 audio-visual recordings, 1400 book chapters, 500 monographs, almost 2000 conference proceedings and 1200 ephemera items. Moreover, ċirca 8350 electronic thesis and dissertations are also available in restricted access. Additionally, OAR@UM servers as a platform for 43 full-text Maltese Journals that are available in Open Access. The journals are being mapped article by article to other corresponding communities within OAR@UM. The table below provides an overview of the journal features that are available in OAR@UM. The most noteworthy features are that 42 out of 43 journal titles have contributed their entire publication from Issue 1, and since the initiation of this exercise, a total of 7875 articles have been uploaded in OAR@UM.
|Number of Journals
|Numbers of Additional Periodical Titles (magazines/newsletters)||12|||
|Countries of Origin||3|
Malta - 41 titles
Greece - 1 title with Maltese editor
Turkey - 1 title with Maltese editor
English - 38 titles
Maltese - 3 titles
Multilingual - 2 titles
|Journals Actively Contributing||25||58%|
|Journals Back to Volume 1||42||98%|
|Journals with Another Online Presence||12||28%|
|Number of Journals in Open Access||43||100%|
|Number of Articles in Open Access||7875|||
Medicine: 16 titles
Education: 6 titles
History/Archaeology: 5 titles
Maltese culture, language :5 titles
Environment/Nature: 4 titles
Economics: 3 titles
Religion/Philosophy: 2 titles
Sciences: 1 title
Mathematics: 1 title
|Academic Departments (University)||20||46,5%|
|Network of Research Institutes (National)||3||7%|
The table shows that apart from English and Maltese, there are 2 titles that are multilingual. These are the Melita Theologica and the Journal of Accounting Finance and Auditing Studies (JAFAS). The majority of articles in the Melita Theologica are in English but it also includes articles in Maltese, Latin and Italian while the JAFAS is bilingual and so it consists of articles in both English and Turkish.
This collection of journals captures various topics that can be categorised under 12 different subject areas. Additionally, although 28% of the journals have an online presence beyond OAR@UM, the motivating factor for adding these works in OAR@UM is due to the fact that items deposited in OAR@UM are visible and discoverable through indexing by Google and Google Scholar. Additionally, OAR@UM has also been registered with several key Open Archives Initiatives (OAI) service providers including OpenAIRE, COnnecting REpositories (CORE) and Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE).
This Maltese Journal initiative provides an opportunity to have closer ties with emergent societies. The UM Library has now a better chance to interact with journal editors, faculty members and other leaders in the profession and advocate in favour of Open Science. The UM Library is also approaching additional entities and encouraging them to deposit their current and back issues of their publications in OAR@UM. The Library also offers scanning and digitisation of retrospective volumes. This exercise is encountering strong interest and is being very much appreciated by societies. This is due to the fact that very often, academic societies lack staff or expertise to digitise content in line with established standards.
To summarise, libraries that include scholarly journal collections in their repositories are offering a viable platform for academic societies to disseminate knowledge that is being generated. These libraries are also supporting the journal societies to enhance visibility, discoverability, usage, preservation, archiving and long-term stability. On the other hand, libraries also benefit in many ways such as:
• enhancing connections with journal editors, faculty members and other researchers
• populating the repository with a growing corpus of Open Access literature
• creating new opportunities for collection development
• increasing access to retrospective articles that were originally published only in print format
• collecting, preserving and archiving journals of National heritage
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