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Published on March 21, 2008

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What are the prospects for publishing online scholarly journals in Malaysia? The cultural constraint :  What are the prospects for publishing online scholarly journals in Malaysia? The cultural constraint Jamay’ah Zakaria and Fytton Rowland Paper given at ElPub 2006, Bansko, Bulgaria, 16 June 2006 Scholarly publishing in developing countries:  Scholarly publishing in developing countries Most studies of scholarly publishing have looked at the ‘international’ industry based in the developed North, mostly in Western Europe and North America Concerns exist about the visibility of scholarly research undertaken in developing countries, and in other small or Southern-Hemisphere countries SciElo (South America) and INASP (Africa) help – no such initiative for Asia, though Malaysia:  Malaysia A developing country aiming to become fully developed by 2020 A predominantly Muslim country, with most education conducted in the Malay language Heavy government emphasis on ICT; the IT infrastructure is good, and there is widespread availability of Internet access Small scholarly publishing industry, almost entirely not-for-profit Aims of J.Z.’s PhD Study:  Aims of J.Z.’s PhD Study To measure the current state of the scholarly publishing industry in Malaysia To gauge the extent to which it has converted or is converting itself to the electronic medium To survey Malaysian academics, researchers and scholars, to ascertain their publishing and reading habits and their attitudes to the scholarly literature To make recommendations regarding the future of online scholarly publishing in Malaysia Research Methods Adopted:  Research Methods Adopted A questionnaire survey of Malaysian scientists, researchers and academics Conducted by J.Z. in the Malay language; excellent response rate achieved, permitting full statistical analysis Interviews with directors of university presses in Malaysia Representatives of thirteen presses were interviewed, and their responses analysed by qualitative analysis techniques Who were the Malaysian respondents?:  Who were the Malaysian respondents? They were aged 26-55, with an even spread between the decades 60% were men – slight over-representation 84% were ethnic Malays 80% in universities; 20% in research institutes 42% had doctorates, another 55% master’s 52% had attended Western universities 98% had Internet access – 70% of them at home Attitudes (1):  Attitudes (1) No difference between the genders in their attitudes towards online publishing Those who used ICT more were significantly more positive towards online publishing Almost all said they published both for career advancement and to disseminate knowledge 70%+ said (in 2004) that they never used a digital repository, an online-only journal, or even a parallel print & electronic journal to disseminate their results Attitudes (2):  Attitudes (2) 67% often publish in conference proceedings, 33% in local journals, 27% in locally-based journals with an international scope, 20% in foreign journals, and 10% in books. Mean number of publications 1998-2003 was 15. Those who published more frequently were significantly more positive in their attitude towards online scholarly publishing; so were those who published their work in English or had had a Western education Attitudes (3):  Attitudes (3) In deciding where to submit a paper, the most important considerations were the perceived reputation of the journals and its impact factor Traditional refereeing procedures are still strongly supported A large group still favours transfer of copyright to the publisher, but this group is negative in attitude towards online publishing 77% said repositories are important, but only 10% had ever deposited a paper in one Helping and hindering factors towards electronic publishing:  Helping and hindering factors towards electronic publishing Factors that would help to persuade Malaysian scholars to publish electronically are recognition, support from their institution, and a policy towards e-publishing Factors seen to be holding back the progress of e-publishing were a lack of funding for it, copyright concerns, a lack of recognition from the employer, a lack of technological know-how on the part of the author, and perceived low quality of electronic-only journals Interview results: the presses:  Interview results: the presses Most of the presses are small, with only a handful of staff. In universities, editorial control is with academics, but in research institutes, press staff undertake editing as well as production work All but one of the presses had at least one journal title; they also publish books and conference proceedings Interview results: their journals:  Interview results: their journals The journals are small – 1-4 issues/year, 12-15 articles per issue Print runs usually about 300 Fewer than 100 paying subscribers Provided free to other Malaysian universities and research institutes Most accept papers in Malay or English A few papers are from outside Malaysia Peer-reviewed, but usually by referees all within the one university where the journal is published Interview results: the authors:  Interview results: the authors The Malaysian journals struggle to get papers Authors prefer to give conference papers as they get their travel to the conference paid for Prestige attaches to ‘international’ journals But Malay-speaking authors may have difficulty in getting English-language papers accepted in Western journals (70% rejection) Inclusion in ISI’s WoK is key to success Interview results: e-publishing:  Interview results: e-publishing The only Malaysian e-only journal is not published by a University press Most Malaysian journals are print-only – only one university press produces print & e-versions of its titles E-versions of back issues are produced by scanning the print by some publishers Reason for lack of activity here – difficulty in convincing university paymasters Interview results: hindering factors:  Interview results: hindering factors Lack of ICT skills in the presses Lack of enthusiasm for e-publishing among influential academics University managements’ preference for their academics to publish internationally Tenure/promotion issues for e-journals Some younger researchers don’t write at all Uncertainty about business models Conclusion – a cultural resistance?:  Conclusion – a cultural resistance? Hofstede’s Power Distance Index – a measure of deferential attitudes – shows Malaysia to be a high-deference country Malaysians are unwilling to disagree with their superiors. And both authors and press staff report lack of enthusiasm for electronic publishing by university senior managers Senior scientists, Western educated, with lots of publications in English, are the most likely to be positive to e-publishing; they are the best placed to overcome this cultural trait. What is to be done?:  What is to be done? The government has provided the physical infrastructure but now needs to encourage its use – perhaps by granting full recognition for tenure and promotion purposes in public universities to papers published in local e-journals University presses should collaborate to provide a national electronic scholarly information system instead of their current fragmented efforts Journal publication should be granted higher status relative to conference proceedings Senior scholars with international status need to give a lead

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