Academic Edition: Urgent Debates. Lecture by Elea Giménez de Toledo (CSIC)

By Elsa Corominas Rodríguez and Carlos Madrid Gari, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

On April 21, the XIII Scientific Publishing Seminar was held at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), an institution that considers that journals contribute to the global strategy of the university and promotes this space to reflect on them, a reflection in which the academic boards of the journals participate, as well as the management teams that support their processes.

The event was opened by the new UOC Vice-Rector for Research, Transfer and Entrepreneurship, Xavier Vilajosana, who, just like Marta Aymerich had done in the 12 previous sessions, presented the seminar, organized and moderated by Elsa Corominas (Managing Editor of International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education).

The speaker Elea Giménez de Toledo, director of the research group on the academic book (ILIA)/ES CIENCIA at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) was a high-quality bet for the XIII Edition of the Scientific Publishing Seminar, which celebrated the novelty of having been able to return to face-to-face after six sessions of the online seminar. Of the 12 seminar sessions held since the beginning in 2017, six were face-to-face and the next 6 were necessarily held online. On October 8, 2019, the last VI face-to-face Seminar on open access and research evaluation took place, with Isidro Aguillo and Maria Jesús Martínez Argüelles, current Vice-Rector for Governance and Academic Policy at the UOC and moderated by Ciro Llueca.

The speaker’s intervention, entitled “urgent debates on academic publication”, was structured around three major themes: the new forms and possibilities of evaluating science, the recognition of multilingualism in the publication and dissemination of scientific results, and the promotion of the journals under the “diamond” initiative.

The new scientific assessment

Progress in the forms of scientific evaluation is evident in a series of initiatives that seek to redefine evaluation processes. Platforms such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) identify the changes in research work due to digitization and the implications of the so-called Open Science. The new work methodologies mean a greater need for new ways of assessment that shed light on all dimensions of research. The CoARA report proposes more complete assessment methods and suggests adapting the assessment systems to what is to be evaluated, formulas that allow a more specific assessment of what is being evaluated with a multidimensional and more qualitative criterion. This more qualitative assessment of science is a change expected by the academic community, but its risks are known, as it is more delicate, and more expensive in time and resources. In the Social Sciences and the Humanities, it is especially important to adapt to what is to be evaluated, since they have forms of transfer that are specific to these fields and also because they are more abundant, in this case, books and other forms of publication other than scientific articles. 

Another example of the promotion of new forms of scientific evaluation is the ENRESSH Manifesto, which proposes linking the assessment to the various forms of production, obtaining solid and valid data in a framework of transparency and trust that allows consistent assessment to be carried out through multidimensional and integrated methodologies. For this, the training of the professionals who will carry out these assessments is vital.

In the same sense, we find position documents such as the one from the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities, which also points to the need for progress in the forms of evaluation, leaving traditional metrics behind and betting on an analysis of the social impact of research through new indicators. All of this is also included in the new Spanish Science Law (2022) that recognizes the transfer of knowledge as a right, obligation and merit in the science, technology and innovation system. This new Law incorporates a specific article on Open Science (Article 37) and the six-year transfer periods are recognized, also making it easier for publications that are not strictly scientific to be recognized. According to the ANECA report Analysis of the first call for the six-year period for knowledge transfer and innovation, focusing on the types of contributions (Spanish Version), Arts and Humanities and Legal Sciences have been fields with high success rates. The most common forms of transfer have been participation in contracts and projects with other companies and publications and dissemination activities and participation in agreements and contracts with social value. Regarding professional dissemination, we find that books and articles, reports and opinions and guides, codes and manuals are the most used formats. This knowledge is mostly transferred to the professional field, with audiovisual contributions, apps and collaborations in social media being the ones that stand out for reaching both scholars and practitioners.

Social impact is undoubtedly a crucial issue in scientific evaluation. Horizon Europe considers this factor as a fundamental axis to promote the indicators linked to the Sustainable Development Goals and go beyond the economic impact.

Recognition of science published in languages other than English

Published science tends to be mostly in English. There are initiatives that promote the use of multilingualism in academic communication, such as the Helsinki Initiative on Multilingualism, which fights to promote academic communication infrastructures in national languages. Other manifestos that seek to promote all languages and move away from the monopoly of English are the Declaration of Principles of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences or the Regional Collaboration for the visibility of Ibero-American science (Spanish version). CoARA also pronounces itself in this sense, demanding the recognition of the diversity of contributions without taking into account the language of publication, that is, not detracting from the value of publications made in a non-English language, to try to favor multilingualism and even the publication and dissemination of science in indigenous languages. ES CIENCIA is another of the platforms that promote a scientific publication beyond English.

The speaker highlighted how these movements in favor of strengthening and promoting multilingual use to communicate scientific results also contribute to preserving small and medium-sized publishing structures, the bulk of those in the Spanish publishing scene, since they also contribute to the dissemination of knowledge and to bringing the science to the citizenship.

The great movements forward of the “diamond” journals

The objective of the journals under the “diamond” initiative  promote free open publication for both the author and the publishing institution. As indicated by the International Declaration of Open Access BOAI20, commercial control of the assessment indicators in research should be minimized, as well as the domain of the Impact Factor of the journals, since this can produce biases in the assessment that exclude less economically developed countries. This Declaration indicates that it is necessary to reform research assessment practices to minimize the importance of factors that deviate from indicators that add value to research. “Diamond” journals show the need to move towards a new ecosystem for academic publishing and proof of this is the Diamond Open Access model that is based on the values of the BOAI204 International Open Access Declaration document.

Advancing towards a more sustainable model based on scientific quality, regardless of economic factors, must also be addressed legally. Law 17/2022, of September 5, which modifies Law 14/2011, of June 1, on Science, Technology and Innovation (Spanish version) is one more step to protect and promote Open Science: data (FAIR), codes and methodologies in open access, deposit in repositories simultaneously with the publication, the obligation to comply with the bases of the calls regarding open access.

Elea Giménez de Toledo remarked that Latin America is a pioneer in promoting diamond journals and that we must continue advancing on more sustainable academic publishing environments.

Great challenges that open up possibilities while requiring caution, rigor and consensus to make solid progress in Open Science and in the expected reforms of scientific assessment that the current moment requires.

This post was previously published in Spanish in Aula Magna 2.0:

Corominas Rodríguez, Elsa; Madrid Gari, Carlos (2023). Edición académica: debates urgentes. Conferencia de Elea Giménez de Toledo (CSIC). Aula Magna 2.0 [Blog].

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *