How STM journals from Korea are becoming more internationalized

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How STM journals from Korea are becoming more internationalized

Consistent growth of the R&D budget

Korea is one of the top five countries in the world in terms of its total research and development (R&D) budget. It also has the largest proportion of R&D budget among the OECD countries. In 2015, the Korean government invested 17 billion dollars on R&D. As a result of the increased R&D funds to researchers, scientific, engineering, and medical research (STM research) has grown rapidly in terms of both quality and quantity. The number of research articles from Korea indexed in Web of Science was 53,593 in 2014 and its country ranking was 11. It is estimated that the number of STM research articles published in Korea in a year is 100,000, half of which is published in international journals indexed in Web of Science and the other half is published in non-SCIE local journals. Still, the number of SCIE journals from Korea is only 108. Korean researchers believe that STM journals from Korea are underestimated.


Increasing acceptance of open access

In Korea, majority of STM journals are published by non-profit scholarly societies or institutes; only 8% of STM journals are published by commercial publishing companies such as Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, and Springer et al.. The journals are get their funding from various sources: societies’ fund, government’s fund, article processing charge from authors, and income through advertisement, which is conducive for open access. Also, those journals are all free-access; therefore, it is easy for editors to convert their journal to an open access journal according to Creative Commons license.


Dominance of English as the major publishing language

Besides open access policy, another strategy toward internationalization is to publish only in English. This is particularly true in the field of medicine. In 2005, only 12 medical journals were published in English. However, after JATS XML files were developed, which could be deposited to PubMed Central (PMC) in 2008, major medical journals began to change the journal language to English-only. In 2015, there are more than 100 medical journals in English. The main reason of language change is PMC/PubMed journal, since PMC has dispatched PubMed XML files of PMC journals to PubMed. All medical editors know that PubMed is the best and the most important platform in medicine.


Government support for journal publishing

Astonishingly, all STM journals are equipped with DOI numbers since 2014. As per the government’s policy, only DOI-equipped STM journals are supported. Without a DOI, it is not possible to gain support of the government funded Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies (KOFST). In the journal market, DOI is one of the most important network tools for STM journals; therefore, STM journals have a chance to be more visible to researchers globally via the Internet. Furthermore, KOFST constructed a full text JATS XML-based free or open access literature database to provide an international-level platform like PubMed Central in the medical field, entitled ScienceCentral, which accepts all languages from all STM fields. KOFST has provided enough funds for the production of full text JATS XML files; therefore, editors are able to deposit those files to ScienceCentral. Since ScieceCentral provides Google translation function for each article, all local language journals can be exposed to more number of researchers. Of course, the Google translation is not still satisfactory; however, it works satisfactorily if two languages are similar in the language tree. For example, Korean-Japanese translation can be understood as can be English-French. With JATS XML, the article is easy to be rendered to PubReader or epub 3.0 format so that articles can be accessed from smart phones or smart tabs in a consistent format. 


Editor training through not-for-profit organizations

STM editorship is mostly a part-time, voluntary job for researchers or university faculties, and there is a dearth of professional manuscript editors Therefore, the Korean Council of Science Editors established a professional manuscript editor training course in 2011 and a certification system in 2015. These developments will also contribute to the completeness of style and format of STM journals. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors (KAMJE) was established in 1996 and KCSE was established in 2011. These voluntary organizations have helped editors to propagate the most recent editing and publishing information by organizing international meetings of editors such as European Association of Science Editors, Council of Science Editors, CrossRef, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, and American Medical Writers Association. Moreover, experts from all over the globe including top-notch editors, managing editors, publication ethics specialists, and CrossRef staff have visit Korea to train the editors. For a journal to be internationalized, the training of editors is essential. Since all editors work voluntarily, it is difficult for them to attend international editors’ meetings and to study editing deeply. Thus, the training provided by the two editors’ organizations played a pivotal role in editor education.

The bases of internationalization of STM journals and articles from Korea are a consistent growth of R&D budget; openness toward the acceptance of open access policy, rapid adoption of English language; organization of editor meetings to exchange the recent information on editing and publishing; government-tailored support to journal publishing; and training of editors and manuscript editors. Furthermore, the driving force behind the Korean STM journals is the editor’s dedication toward the journal. The Korean model of STM journal publication is unique, and it may be a good model for scholarly journals in the world.


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Published on: Jun 27, 2015

An experienced researcher and journal editor with a deep understanding of the struggles faced by ESL authors.
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