Volume 16, Number 9/10
Table of Contents
Development Strategy for High-Quality Science and Technology Journals in China
Institute of Science and Technology Information of China
Institute of Science and Technology Information of China
Although the number of science and technology (ST) journals has greatly increased in China in recent years, an absence of high-quality works with corresponding influence in the world and the low level of international visibility are out of step with the actual status of science, technology and economic development within China. The Ministry of Science and Technology of China has therefore planned and executed a development strategy for high-quality ST journals in order to advance the international competitive capacity of China's journals, build a high performance platform for publication and information exchange for ST journals, and materially playing a role in invigorating China through science, education and scientific innovation. For example, this Ministry started the Strategy for China's High-Quality ST Journals at the beginning of 2005. It also launched one national high-quality ST infrastructure project for ST Library & Information System in 2006. This article gives a brief introduction to the development strategy for China's high-quality ST Journals, including providing major support for leading journals in scientific subjects, a specific strategy for development of China's existing ST journals, and the selection system and implementation of China's ST journals. Finally, an integrated framework for building a high-quality ST journal platform based on DOI technology is described.
Keywords: High-Quality ST Journal, Development Strategy, Open Access
Over 20 years have passed from the budding period of Chinese digital journals in the 1990s to the widespread digitalization and networking available today. Digital journals, available on floppy disks, then CD-ROM, and finally online, are publications that can be loaded and used on computer devices in local and remote areas. Digital journals are influencing the structure of library collections, library and publishing services, and reading habits. They also have a dramatic effect in popularizing the journals, increasing the number of readers, speeding up information dissemination, and promoting effective use of knowledge .
ISTIC (Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China) is the first institute that did research on Chinese ST journals in preparation for implementing the high-quality ST journal system that MST (Ministry of Science and Technology) designated "the Comprehensive Criteria Evaluation System for ST Journals in China". For years, together with experts from other domestic research institutes, ISTIC, has done much of the research on ST journal evaluation and related strategic policy. High-quality, in the context of Chinese ST journal development strategy, simply means well-recognized and significant within a discipline, the journals within which seminal articles are published.
The dedicated programme of "High-Quality ST Journal Strategy in China" was founded in 2005 by six members, including China MST as the originator and leader, General Administration of Press and Publication, Publicity Department of CCCPC, National Natural Science Foundation, Chinese Academy of Science, and China Association for Science and Technology. The strategy research team was then organized. Having developed for some years, and reaching a certain scale in quantity, China ST journals still lack international visibility, which is a contradiction with the actual status of scientific, technological, and economic, development within China. Therefore, making ST journals more competitive in the world and building an efficient ST journal platform for information exchange and publication has become a strategic goal for ST journal development in China .
2. Objectives & Approaches
- to build the reputation and enhance the international influence of Chinese ST journals;
- to develop journals of international interest in major subject areas, while maintaining local and traditional Chinese characteristics;
- to establish a unified online publishing and information exchange platform including supportive policies for about 300 key ST journals in domestic web publishing;
- to promote the formation of several ST journal publishing groups with international influence and stimulating other journals with good prospects, as far as possible.
The major support principles are to give priority to journals in key subject areas for the purpose of cultivating internationally recognized journals, and to focus on academic journals along with adequate consideration for the development of popular science and technical journals. As the record of basic scientific research and academic exchange, academic ST journals should be operated as non-profit public welfare undertakings, while the technical and the popular science journals are meant to improve the national science and technology culture as the media for transferring science and technology into productive forces. Market mechanisms are therefore suitable for popular science and technical journals, given the applicable policy support and technical platform. The cooperation between the strong publication companies on the path of intensive, group-oriented development of high-quality journals shall be encouraged .
3. Development Strategy for High-Quality ST Journals
The development strategy for high-quality ST journals includes development strategies for the internationalization of ST journals, enhancing their core competitiveness, and building an advanced operational mechanism.
- In response to the trend to international journals, internationalize the primary elements of the ST journals as soon as possible.
The internationalization of journals not only covers areas such as internationalization of authors, citations, editors, publishing languages, and the publishing operation but also to extending the contents to international research subjects and international competitive levels of research findings. The authoritative and instructive impact of ST journals in the international publication sector is the most significant characteristic of internationalized journals, and one of the goals China ST publishers expect.
- Create journal brands of high-quality.
The core quality of journals, which plays a crucial role in sustainable development, involves brand, quality and operational management of journals.
First of all, journal brand is the key factor in core quality and the major strategic resource of the ST journal in that once the brand of the ST journal comes into being, great social and economic benefits follow. Secondly, journal quality is the foundation and the sustainment of journal importance and survival, including journal focus, research topics and research quality, editorial policies and execution, and so on. Finally, sound operational policies and management systems are also important contributors to journal competitiveness.
- Design the publishing framework for journals, with particular attention to the establishment of subject information gateways.
ST journal operations as a whole need to support search, retrieval, current awareness, and all manner of information services. An important component in this will be subject information gateways, which should be developed simultaneously with the journals themselves. Thus, website planning should be will be an important feature of high-quality journal development and an enormous advantage in the modern network era.
- Perfect editor training programmes in order to build high-quality editor teams.
Journal editorial and managerial talent are a basic requirement of sustainable development. Establishing high-level internationally recognized quality journals requires dedicated and able personnel who also have a strong commitment to professional ethics.
- Base strategic development of high-quality ST journals on a fair assessment of scientific and research quality.
The relevant organizations engaged in scientific research evaluation should revise any unreasonable and unfair scientific research criteria as soon as possible. Scientific researchers should be incentived with awards in professional titles and recognition scientific research funding, and through the promotion of research achievements in Chinese high-quality ST journals .
4. Selection System for High-Quality ST Journals
The selection of ST journals in mainland China for focused development may start with those in the ISI series (including SCI and SCI search) and/or China's top five ST journals with high citation frequencies and influential standings in key disciplines and subjects, according to the previous year's statistics as published by ISTIC. Priorities should also be given to the leading ST journals in China's key disciplines and subjects, those related to intensive development trends, and those sponsored by nationwide academic organizations or scientific research institutes. At the same time, start-up English editions originated from the leading ST journals i should be given sufficient priority to compete in the international journal and information resources market.
4.2 Selection System
High-quality ST journal strategic selection research looks into two aspects: international high-quality ST journals and Chinese high-quality ST journals. The development strategy will aid the growth of international journals but will not ignore traditional Chinese journals. Recommended criteria to be used in making the complicated systematic evaluation of ST journals are as follows:
- Objectivity: The approach shall be objective, using quantitative evaluation methods, combined with qualitative criteria, to as great a degree as possible, to avoid personal bias.
- Diversity and hierarchies: The perfect evaluation system shall consist of varieties of indicators on multiple levels. The evaluation system should distinguish journals according to subject areas and be adjusted to different situations. Weight values may be emphasized by discipline.
- Combination of dynamic and static evaluation criteria: The evaluation process will naturally evolve and improve over time. The evaluation criteria will be dynamically adjusted as needed during the continuous development of high-quality ST journals.
4.3 Selection Procedures
There are seven steps in the selection procedure:
- Voluntary declaration: the organizer of the journal may submit written application directly to the management;
- Qualification identification: the management identifies journal qualifications;
- Review: qualified applicants' materials will be distributed to at least three experts in their respective subjects for evaluation, resulting in a first-round list of high-quality journals across diverse subjects. The evaluation by the experts will be done via secret ballot;
- On-site investigation: the experts will conduct field surveys and review the compliance of the candidates listed in the first -round list;
- Public review: ST Development Council to confirm the initial list of ST high-quality journals and publicize it for a month. During the review period, the management is open to objections to the admissibility of materials, and is responsible for investigation, verification and response;
- Validation: according to the feedback from the public review, the council will publish its annual ST high-quality journal list;
- Contract: the management office, on behalf of the Council, will sign project cooperation contracts with the organizations responsible for the selected high-quality ST journals .
5. Publishing Framework for High-Quality ST Journals
ST journals are an inextricable part of scientific research. In supporting research infrastructure, especially for the exchange and spread of science and technology information, ST authorities should focus on how to provide support to high-quality ST journals.
5.1 Planning open-access network platform and integrated sharing of high-quality resource
Open Access (OA) is drawing increasing international attention due to its advantages in areas such as convenient submission, rapid publishing, easy retrieval, and, in particular, significant improvements in citation frequency. Chinese ST journal profit sources are shifting from readers to authors and institutions in recent years. Many academic journals, due to poor subscription rates, have begun to charge layout fees which mainly come from research project funds. Hence, many Chinese high-quality ST Journals have already reached full open-access status. While this trend is pushing Chinese journals to the web and spreading the journal content online, complete open-access has not been achieved, owing to continued access and download fees. Therefore, it is recommended that the government offer necessary technical support to build a network publishing platform and to develop and perfect a unified approach to a journal publishing specification .
5.2 Integration of high-quality ST journals and DOI technology
The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique permanent identifier for digital resources. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) initiated the effort, which then spread internationally, resulting in the formation of the non-profit International DOI Foundation (IDF) in 1998. It was formed in part to address copyright protection on the Internet but has evolved primarily into a persistent identification and management system. The underlying technology is the Handle System from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). Within the high-quality ST journal system, every article will be given one of these unique IDs, which can be used in citations in both Chinese and foreign languages and will be helpful in getting these journals indexed by international abstract databases, such as SCI, tohat will promote their global spread.
5.3 Establishment of a high-quality ST journal monitoring system
The ongoing evaluation of ST journals will determine the direction of future development. The continuous study and adjustments, in accordance with China's ST journal quality-oriented development strategy, is needed to create an incentive for innovation and scientific research and a harmonious environment for journal issuing. At present, the ST journal evaluation system China has established will, if used in conjunction with an analysis of Chinese citation data, foreign journal citation data, and the statistical analysis of Chinese ST journals cited in the international literature, form a complete scientific monitoring and evaluation system to improve journal selection criteria and procedures and measure overall progress. The successful journals will survive. Above all, the establishment of an evaluation and monitoring platform will decrease the gap in evaluation methodology and technology between Chinese ST journals and internationally recognized journals with the least delay possible.
5.4 Establishment of an adequate management system
Under effective state administration and following high-level principles, a strategic organization and management system shall be built for high-quality ST journal development. It is recommended that the management system consist of three institutions: the High-Quality Journal Development Council as the strategic decision-making body; the High-Quality ST Journal Management Office as the day-to-day operational division subordinate to the Council; and the Expert Review Committee serving in an advisory capacity to the Council .
The growth of digital journals over the last decade is both a challenge and an opportunity. Chinese journals should keep pace with the times through constant development, with the goal of taking advantage of digital journal developments. There is still a long road ahead for Chinese high-quality ST journals.
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About the Authors
Yao Changqing is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC). His interests are in the development of the S&T information management system, digital rights management based on DOI and the policies and platforms of the S&T OA journals in China.
Qiao Xiaodong is a Senior Researcher and Director of the Information Technology Support Center, Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC).