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Program, Publication Model, and SciELO Network | SciELO.org

(Updated: 15/09/2023)

Version August 14, 2023

1. SciELO Program

1.1. Introduction

SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) is a program to support open access research communication.

Created in 1997 and launched in March 1998, the program is implemented in a decentralized manner as a public policy to support open access scientific communication through the SciELO Publication Model. The program is adopted in sixteen countries that form the SciELO Network of national collections of quality journals: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Spain, West Indies, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, South Africa and Uruguay.

The SciELO Network represents SciELO as an International Cooperation Program for Open Access Scientific Communication.

Initially developed based on the SciELO Brazil journal collection, the model was adopted, still in the launch year, by the coordination of the SciELO Chile collection and progressively by the institutions of the other countries in the SciELO Network.

The SciELO Publication Model has been continuously improved in cooperation with the network countries, organizations responsible for scientific communication standards, good operational and ethical practices, as well as systems and experts in research communication.

In September 2018, during the SciELO 20 Years Week, the program began the progressive adoption of Open Science communication practices, with the perspective that they be fully adopted by the indexed journals. Thus, SciELO advances globally as one of the first national research communication infrastructure programs in Open Science, replicating the pioneering adoption of open access in 1998.

As an open science program, SciELO operates and develops collections of research communication objects, in addition to traditional article publications and other document types: the sixteen national journal collections, the thematic collection of public health journals, the SciELO Preprints server’s preprint collection, the SciELO Data collection of research data files associated with preprints and journal articles, and the SciELO Books collection. The SciELO Network portal www.scielo.org provides access to all collections in English, Spanish, and Portuguese languages.

In addition to promoting alignment of nationally edited journals with the state of the art in scientific publishing, SciELO decisively contributes to positioning the countries of the SciELO Network among the leading countries in open access to scientific literature communicated through journals, predominantly in the Diamond model and under the CC-BY license.

1.2. Scope and Relevance of the SciELO Program

The raison d’être and relevance of the SciELO Program lie in the recognition, promotion, and enhancement of journals published by universities, scientific societies, and professional associations, primarily operated in non-profit contexts.

High-quality journals, edited at a national level, communicate basic and applied research authored by both national and foreign scholars, in multiple languages, across diverse disciplines, originating from different countries and internal regions within countries, encompassing priority or regionally relevant topics. The SciELO Program contributes to equipping the science of the countries it operates in with the infrastructure and capacity to progressively execute the full research cycle within the framework of Open Science.

The enrichment of the traditional role of journals as the primary vehicle for scientific literature with new forms of communication, such as data archives and transparency and openness in evaluation processes, has expanded and strengthened the scope of SciELO as a program of Open Science. It is now centered on the systematic advancement of scientific quality and a commitment to ethical research conduct and communication, multilingualism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, all in favor of more inclusive national, regional, and global flows of scientific information.

SciELO takes a proactive stance in global open access scientific communication, decisively contributing to countries’ capacity to communicate research aligned with the mainstream and, simultaneously, with the national context, particularly by including research objects and applications on matters of national interest and researcher development. Countries’ ability to communicate research according to state-of-the-art standards, now within the framework of Open Science, is a determining factor for advancing their capacity to complete the entire research cycle. Beyond its scientific character, this capacity positions the development of SciELO and journals as a cultural, social, economic, and technological entity, supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals on national, regional, and global levels.

The SciELO approach, centered on maximizing the visibility and impact of research outcomes, is driven by the virtuality, universality, and disintermediation characteristics of the web. These features empower digital libraries, which, in addition to their classic role in managing organized collections and providing services to the public, evolve as communication vehicles and spaces for convergence and network interaction. This simultaneously serves producers, intermediaries, and users of scientific information while making digital objects of research communication available.

1.3. Objectives of the SciELO Program

The general objective of the SciELO Program is to contribute to the advancement of scientific research.

The specific objective that permeates the entire operation of the program is to maximize the visibility of the journals it indexes and the research they communicate, considering articles, other types of documents, and associated communication objects.

Between the general and specific objectives, the SciELO Program unfolds across different dimensions:

  • Contribute to the development of national and regional infrastructures and capacities for scientific communication in accordance with the state of the art in open science.
  • Contribute to the improvement of policies, management, and editorial operations of journals of increasing quality.
  • Contribute to informing public policies, professionals, and society through the up-to-date communication of research.
  • Promote international cooperation in open access scientific communication.
  • Promote diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the global flow of scientific communication.
  • Update and enhance the methodologies and technologies of the SciELO Publishing Model.

1.4. Principles of the SciELO Program

The SciELO Program operates under the auspices of four principles:

  • Scientific knowledge as a global public good
    The content communicated by SciELO journals is available to all of society, and its availability does not diminish with use. This principle underpins and characterizes SciELO as an Open Science program.
  • Collaborative networked work
    The systematic adoption of networked work is the most efficient means to favor national priorities, create scale, share experiences in capacity and infrastructure development, and simultaneously manage asymmetries derived from different national and thematic conditions. This principle underpins the SciELO Network.
  • Scientific quality
    Scientific rigor and quality control must be ubiquitous throughout the research communication process, with the adoption of standards, ethical best practices, policies, management and operations, and innovative advances in persistent alignment with the state of the art in scientific communication. This principle underpins the criteria for indexing sustainable and progressively higher-quality journals.
  • Alignment with the state of the art
    Alignment with the state of the art encompasses the updating of methodologies and technologies in the SciELO Publishing Model, as well as the updating of editorial policies and management for journals. This principle underpins the adoption of innovations in open science communication.
  • FAIR Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable)
    The adoption of FAIR principles as part of the SciELO Program guides the adoption of open science practices across all research communication objects within the SciELO Network. The FAIR principles contribute to achieving the specific objectives of maximizing the visibility and interoperability of research communication objects.
  • DEIA Principles (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility)
    The adoption of DEIA principles as part of the SciELO Program guides the SciELO Network and especially the editorial policies and management of journals in the national collections, ensuring that the entire research communication flow within the SciELO Network is carried out under the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

2. SciELO Publishing Model

The policies, procedures, methodologies, and technologies of the SciELO Program that implement, operate, and develop the communication objects collections of the SciELO Network constitute the SciELO Publishing Model.

2.1. Research Communication Objects

In the SciELO Publishing Model, the products/media for research communication are referred to as research communication objects. These objects are digital and formatted according to established methodologies, made available online on the web in open access. Thus, the model facilitates research communication through the following collections within the SciELO Network:

  • Articles and other types of documents communicated through journals.
  • Preprints via the SciELO Preprints server.
  • Books and book chapters through the SciELO Books collection.
  • Research data through the SciELO Data repository.

With the SciELO Publishing Model aligned with the open science modus operandi, a research project can be communicated through various digital communication objects, each receiving their respective DOI (Digital Object Identifier):

  • The research can be initially communicated by authors through manuscript submission to a preprints server such as SciELO Preprints. If approved, the manuscript is made available in open access.
  • The preprint can be submitted to a journal immediately or later for evaluation and publication.
  • The research can be communicated directly to a journal for evaluation and publication, following traditional practice.
  • Research data associated with articles are deposited in data repositories like SciELO Data. Research data include numerical data, text, computer program sources, maps, schematics, etc. Research data inform the manuscript evaluation process and contribute to other research and researchers.
  • Research data can be documented through what are known as data papers.
  • The evaluations of approved manuscripts should, whenever possible, be edited and published alongside the article or as a separate document.

Journals are the primary research communication objects within the SciELO Program. They operate in open access and communicate articles and other types of documents as research communication objects. Thus, journals are encouraged to incorporate preprints and data curation into their respective editorial policies and management.

The advancement of open science within national research systems depends on public and institutional policies, involving all levels and actors, including journals. The SciELO Program aims to empower journals to take a leadership role in the adoption of open science. On one hand, journals hold a strategic position in the research cycle, and on the other hand, they contribute to enhancing the quality, visibility, and impact of the communicated research.

2.2. Policies and Editorial Management of Journals Indexed in the SciELO Network

Journals within the SciELO Network are exclusively operated within the respective collections of each country. In other words, the national collections within the SciELO Network index and publish journals solely from their own country. Simultaneously, by adhering to the SciELO model, these journals are interoperable within the SciELO Network and globally on the web. This policy contributes to the development of national capacities and infrastructures to carry out the complete research cycle.

Journals are admitted and retained in the national collections based on compliance with indexing criteria. Generally, the indexing criteria favor sustainable journals of increasing quality, published without delays, that promote editorial quality improvement, alignment with the state of the art in scientific publishing, and systematic enhancement of the visibility of the research they communicate. Submission to a national collection is voluntary, as is the decision to remain in it.

Since 2019, the SciELO Program has been updating the indexing criteria to align with the best practices of research communication in the open science modus operandi.

Therefore, in addition to unrestricted open access to article texts and other types of documents, journals within the SciELO Network’s collections are required to update their editorial policies and management in accordance with the open science modus operandi.

Key actions in updating the editorial policy include:

  • Expressing alignment with the goals of open science in the public display of the journal’s mission, objectives, and scope.
  • Specifying alignment with the following open science practices in the author guidelines:
    • Acceptance of manuscripts previously deposited in a preprints server. It is recommended to restrict this to reliable preprint servers, such as the SciELO Preprints server.
    • Manuscripts should be accompanied by a statement of the availability of collected, used, and generated research data. Data directly related to the article should specify the data repository and respective URLs. It is recommended to indicate reliable repositories, such as the SciELO Data repository for the journal.
    • Publishing and anonymizing the approval reviews of the manuscript, alongside the final online version of the article.
    • Including the name of the editor(s) responsible for evaluating and approving the manuscript in the final article.
    • Offering the option of open identities for reviewers and authors during the peer review process.
    • Informing authors that articles and associated data files for approved articles will be published under a CC-BY license.

Updates in editorial management and operation include:

  • Implementing a continuous publication model for articles as soon as they are approved and edited.
  • Introducing a checklist for compliance with open science practices during manuscript submission. The SciELO Publishing Model provides a checklist for adoption and adaptation by SciELO journals.
  • Updating internal editorial management guides to incorporate open science practices and providing training for the editorial team and reviewers.
  • Developing the role of data editors for research data. Where feasible, designate an editor responsible for data.

2.3. Governance, Management, and Operation of the National Collections in the SciELO Network

The national collections consist of two components: an institutional component responsible for maintaining and coordinating the operation and development of the national collection, and another component related to the content of the collection itself.

The national collections within the SciELO Network are governed, managed, and operated autonomously according to national conditions and priorities. Each country has only one national coordination and one collection.

The institutional aspect of the national collections encompasses the organizations and their leaders that maintain and operate the SciELO national collections of journals. In general, each country may have two organizational bodies that form the institutional framework of the SciELO Network: the maintaining organization and the one responsible for operation and development.

The operation involves the regular functioning of the collection, including periodic updates to journal indexing, content input, maintenance, preservation, publication, and interoperability of databases or repositories containing articles, documents, and research data files associated with articles. The indexing function is aided by a national advisory committee representing the research communication community of the country.

Development is related to the adoption and adaptation of SciELO network methodologies and technologies, including the qualification of coordination teams and journals. The primary focus of development currently is alignment with open science practices.

Therefore, the governance and management of the coordinations have the following structure:

  • One or more science, technology, and innovation bodies responsible for maintaining and providing policy guidance for the management and development of the national collection.
  • One body responsible for managing the development and operation of the national collection. This body may be the same as the one responsible for maintaining the collection.
  • A national coordinator for the national collection.
  • A national Advisory Committee (CC) responsible for applying indexing criteria and assisting in the development of the collection.

The governance, management, and operation of the national collections are guided by the following prerequisites:

  • Principles of the SciELO Program.
  • Objectives of the SciELO Program.
  • Priority Action Lines of the SciELO Network.
  • Annual updated Indexing Criteria of the collection.
  • National Collections’ Self-Assessment Spreadsheet.

The national coordination teams are responsible for the following operational functions according to the SciELO Publishing Model:

  • Indexing – including the entry and retention of journals in the collection, assisted by the national CC.
  • Strictly updating the repository of articles and other documents in the national collection. Journals with systematic delays should be de-indexed.
  • Ensuring digital security of the repository of articles and other documents in the national collection.
  • Operating the repository of research data associated with articles in the national collection.
  • Digital preservation of articles and other types of documents.
  • Sharing metadata of articles and other documents with the SciELO Network repository.
  • Assisting journals in producing articles and other research communication objects.

The national Advisory Committees (CC) should meet periodically and fulfill the following basic functions:

  • Developing the national collection. The CCs are responsible for decisions regarding journal inclusion and exclusion.
  • Updating Indexing Criteria adapted to national conditions and priorities.
  • Assisting in the governance, management, and operation of the national collection.

The participation of national collections in the SciELO Network involves the following prerequisites and functions:

  • Operating in accordance with the principles and objectives of the SciELO Program.
  • Adopting the methodologies and technologies of the SciELO Publishing Model to ensure interoperability with other national collections and maximize the visibility of journals and research they communicate.
  • Aligning with other collections within the SciELO Network through the SciELO Network’s Priority Action Lines.
  • Engaging with other collections within the SciELO Network, including:
    • A communication interest list between the coordinations and between the Network Secretariat and the coordinations.
    • Exchange between two or more coordinations.
    • Periodic online meetings of the SciELO Network with the Network Secretariat.
    • Five-yearly in-person meetings where progress, issues, lessons learned, and future perspectives of national collections are analyzed, including the review and update of the methodologies and technologies of the SciELO Network and updating of the priority action lines.

2.4. Creation, Operation, and Development of National Collections

The creation, operation, and development of a national collection within the SciELO Network are open to all countries. National collections are governed, maintained, managed, and operated autonomously.

The SciELO Publishing Model envisions the creation and evolution of a national collection through the following phases:

    • Phase 1: Creation of the National Collection
      • Promotion of the creation of a national collection: Initiated by a national organization for science, technology, and innovation, this effort should align with the SciELO Publishing Model and be conducted to establish, develop, and operate a national collection as a public policy supporting research communication. If necessary, another governmental body or university can initiate this effort in the absence of a national science, technology, and innovation organization. The organization responsible for this initiative also maintains the national collection.
      • Appointment of the national collection coordination within a recognized organization by the national research community and especially by journal editors.
      • Formation of a provisional Advisory Committee (CC) responsible for the initial selection of three to five journals for the national collection. Ideally, this committee should consist of researcher-editors from high-quality journals in the country.
      • The national coordination is responsible for maintaining the website and databases of the national collection.
        • Implementation of the website for the national collection’s operational platform, hosted securely either by the coordinating organization or externally.
        • Training of the national coordination team in operating the methodological and technological platforms for the national collections.
      • Articles and other approved documents are formatted in XML and PDF and submitted to the national coordination:
        • Determine whether XML markup is the responsibility of the national coordination or the journals.
        • Train the national team and responsible journal personnel in article production for publication.
      • Launch of the national collection with open access availability on the web and inclusion on the SciELO Network portal as a “developing” collection.
    • Phase 2: Development of the Core Collection of Journals
      This phase involves consolidating the operation of the national SciELO collection with advancements in policies, management, technologies, and collection marketing, focusing on the progressive formation of a core collection of quality journals in all major areas of knowledge.
      This phase is historically characterized by:

      • Transitioning from traditional paper-based publication to digital open access, overcoming resistance, and gaining significant visibility.
      • Enhancing capacities and infrastructures for journal management and production, aligning with best editorial practices and international state-of-the-art policies and practices.
      • Systematically adopting bibliometric evaluation of journal performance based on access and citation indicators.
      • Identifying and progressively developing the core collection.
    • Phase 3: Centralization in Digital Online Publication on the Web
      This phase involves the organized abandonment of restrictions from paper-based publication models and the adoption of the web as a digital communication medium characterized by virtuality, disintermediation, universality, and interoperability. It includes four main advancements focused on enhancing editorial management:

      • All journals adopt one of the SciELO-certified online manuscript management systems, providing reports and statistics for editorial management and author information about the review status.
      • All journals structure full texts in XML according to the SciELO Publishing Schema, based on the latest version of the NISO Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) – ANSI/NISO Z39.96-2021, identifying sections and bibliographic elements, tables, figures, and enabling automatic generation of essential metadata for indexing and interoperability, extracting bibliographic references, and loading them into bibliometric databases.
      • All journals are encouraged to adopt continuous article publication as soon as articles are edited, rather than waiting for a new issue, resulting in time savings and communication efficiency.
    • Phase 4: Transition to the Open Science Modus Operandi
      Starting in September 2018, the SciELO Program began aligning itself and the journals it indexes with open science research communication practices. This is as significant and challenging an advancement as the adoption of open access in 1998, involving overcoming resistance and achieving increasing adoption through educational campaigns and indicators of improved visibility and impact.
      This is an incremental and sustainable innovation process, minimizing disruptions in journal operations. The goal is to have all journals operating with dominant open science practices in their respective thematic areas by the end of 2025.
      To achieve this, the SciELO model promotes open practices and infrastructure for the entire research communication process:

      • Journals should enhance their editorial policies to explicitly express their commitment to good practices in scientific communication ethics.
      • Accept submission of manuscripts already deposited in trusted preprint servers, such as SciELO Preprints.
      • Require inclusion of unique ORCID identifiers for all authors in affiliations, contributing to quality control by providing access to authors’ respective profiles.
      • Require articles with two or more authors to indicate each author’s contribution using the CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) standard or more specific standards adopted in the journal’s thematic area.
      • Promote transparent and informed peer review processes:
        • All articles must publish the name of the editor(s) responsible for the peer review process.
        • Offer authors and reviewers the option to disclose identities.
        • Offer authors and reviewers the option to publish approved article reviews.
      • All manuscripts should be accompanied by a declaration of the availability of data associated with the manuscript, except in special cases.

The phases or periods of national collection evolution vary from country to country based on national conditions and priorities.

3. Governance, Management, and Operation of the SciELO Network

The SciELO Network implements the SciELO Program based on the principle of working collaboratively within a network. It is a unique global solution for research communication in the open access mode.

The SciELO Network comprises its institutional structure and collections of research communication objects. The network’s portal provides access to national collections.

The institutional structure encompasses the institutions responsible for the national collections. Each national collection’s institutional structure is represented in the SciELO Network by the coordination of the respective national collection.

National journal collections and associated data collections are managed and operated in a decentralized manner in terms of data input, storage, preservation, publication, interoperability, and performance indicators. Metadata for articles, preprints, books, and book chapters are aggregated by the central repository of the SciELO Network. This repository is operated through the search module of the network’s portal (search.scielo.org) and the network’s metrics module (analytics.scielo.org).

The SciELO Network has the following objectives:

      • Promote the execution of the SciELO Program’s goals in the management and operation of national journal collections and associated collections.
      • Facilitate the exchange of information and experiences among coordination teams of different collections.
      • Distribute the workload among collection coordinators.
      • Scale up the management and operation of processes, products, and services to reduce costs and enable continuous improvement of coordination teams.
      • Foster the update of methodologies and technologies of the SciELO Publishing Model.

The governance and management of the SciELO Network are structured as follows:

      • Secretariat of the SciELO Network’s Executive Secretariat, Comprising three representatives elected by the national coordinations and one permanent representative from the SciELO Brazil collection. The committee has the following functions:
        • Monitor the operation and development of the network and take actions to enable innovation, address challenges, and develop joint initiatives.
        • Recommend actions and directions that should be discussed and decided upon by all coordinations.
      • Online meetings: Three or more online meetings annually with expected attendance from representatives of all coordinations. These meetings analyze the progress of the network, challenges, lessons learned, and prospects.
      • Five-yearly in-person meetings: These meetings are expected to include participation from all coordinations. During these meetings, the status, challenges, lessons learned, and future perspectives of the national collections are reviewed. Additionally, the methodologies and technologies of the SciELO Network are reviewed and updated, and priority action areas are revisited.

The governance and management of the network are guided by the following antecedents and documents:

      • Conformance with the principles and objectives of the SciELO Program as described in sections 1.3 and 1.4, respectively.
      • Common indexing criteria of the SciELO Network.
      • Self-assessment spreadsheet of the National Coordinations.
      • Priority action lines of the SciELO Network.