Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Open Access in Japan

Recently the movement of Open Access is becoming stronger and stronger. What is the situation of Open Access in Japan? 
Note that this article discusses the trend or movement toward open access in general. So, the subject of this post is not limited to an "open access journal."

In Japan, we can see the movement toward Open Access. On March 16, 2009, Japan's Association of National University Libraries Issued a "Statement Toward Open Access," which started this trend.  The Statement called for everyone involved to cooperate by offering open access to academic papers.

Many universities started repositories of papers of their journals. In Japan, universities issue journals or bulletins (kiyo), in which the papers of professors or some affiliated researchers are published. As they are in control of the universities, it is rather easy to start uploading them onto the Internet for free. Some of the repositories even include their professor's papers even though they are not published in the universities' journals. The number of repositories exceeds 200. Here is the link to the list of repositories.

The papers stored in the repositories are searchable and accessible through JAIRO's website. JAIRO is the abbreviation of Japanese Institutional Repositories Online. JAIRO announced in June 2012 that the number of papers searchable through JAIRO with free access to all contents of the paper was more than a million. This shows the popularity of open access repositories in Japan.

One of my papers is stored in a university repository. One intriguing thing is that the repository disclosed the most accessed paper and my paper, which obtains 200 to 400 accesses each month, was No.1 in February and is still No.2 in March. From this fact, you may be able to guess the ballpark figures of accesses to each open access paper in Japan.

A similar but different move is that from April 1, 2013, the Regulation on Doctoral Degree was amended and publishing online (instead of publishing by physically printing out) was mandated. 

Now the funding institutions have started to publish the papers based on their grant. A couple of examples are the MHLW grant system and Tsuboi Memorial Research Grant.

The biggest institution of academic funding, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science ("JSPS"), only discloses the reports by summarizing the results of the research, not the papers themselves. However, as the JSPS has started to research the current situations of open access in foreign countries, I hope that in the near future they will disclose all papers based on the research conducted by JSPS's funding.

On the publisher of journal's side (mostly academic societies), although there are still many publishers (more than half) which did not decide their own policy, some publishers have a positive policy toward self-archiving or disclosing the papers of their magazines in the university repositories of their authors. For example, Japan Public Law Association, who publishes a journal called Public Law Research (koho-kenkyu) allows researchers to disclose their paper either before or after the peer-review and the researchers can upload the published version of the file. Although not all the journal publishers have this kind of generous policy, the number of journals admitting self-archiving is increasing.

Although there are challenges such as the fact that the number of Open Access Journals in Japan is still small, I hope that the trend of open access continues.

Are you a student or a researcher interested in researching on Japanese law? I can assist you "for free" under certain conditions.

DISCLAIMER: "IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog. 

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