How BiD and Spanish information science journals have changed over the last 20 years

 

[Versió catalana] [Versión castellana]


Ernest Abadal

Faculty of Library and Information Science
Universitat de Barcelona

 

Abstract

This article describes the historical evolution of the journal BiD through an analysis of three key stages: foundation (1998–2003), consolidation (2004–2012) and growth (2013 to the present). It examines aspects related to the editorial structure, sections, layout and inclusion in databases during each of these stages. Secondly, it analyses the present status of the 19 information science journals currently active in Spain based on four general characteristics (longevity, editor profile, inclusion in databases and open-access publication), and then compares these aspects to the situation 20 years ago through an assessment of three studies carried out at that time. Finally, it examines the evolution of the journal BiD and outlines its future challenges.

Resum

Es presenta l'evolució històrica de la revista BiD establint tres grans etapes en el seu recorregut: creació (1998–2003), consolidació (2004–2012), creixement (2013– ). En cada una d'elles es comenten aspectes relacionats amb l'estructura editorial, les seccions, la maqueta i la inclusió en bases de dades. En segon lloc, s'analitza la situació actual de les dinou revistes científiques espanyoles de l'àmbit de la documentació que estan actives basant-se en quatre característiques generals (antiguitat, perfil d'editor, presència en bases de dades i difusió en accés obert) i, a continuació, es compara amb la situació existent fa vint anys a partir de les valoracions de tres estudis d'aquell moment. Finalment, es valora l'evolució de la revista BiD i se'n presenten els reptes de futur.

Resumen

Se presenta la evolución histórica de la revista BiD estableciendo tres grandes etapas en su recorrido: creación (1998–2003), consolidación (2004–2012), crecimiento (2013– ). En cada una de ellas se comentan aspectos relacionados con la estructura editorial, las secciones, la maqueta y la inclusión en bases de datos. En segundo lugar, se analiza la situación actual de las diecinueve revistas científicas españolas del ámbito de la documentación que están activas teniendo en cuenta cuatro características generales (antigüedad, perfil del editor, presencia en bases de datos y difusión en acceso abierto) y, a continuación, se compara con la situación existente hace veinte años a partir de las valoraciones de tres estudios de aquel momento. Finalmente, se valora la evolución de la revista BiD y se presentan los retos de futuro.

 

 

1 Introduction

The aim of this article is to mark the first 20 years and 40 issues of the journal BiD; this length of time provides enough perspective to analyse the journey so far and to determine the course it may take in the future. Many scientific journals have taken advantage of such occasions to review their performance over a given period (in terms of time or number of issues). Often, they conduct bibliometric studies to reveal the profile of the authors who have had work published in them (by affiliation, country, gender, etc.), the main topics covered and how the different sections have evolved. Such studies have been carried out by Pérez Álvarez-Ossorio (1997), who examined the first 20 years of the Revista Española de Documentación Científica; Pedro López et al. (2001), who analysed the first decade of the Revista General de Información y Documentación (1991–2000), with a particular focus on productivity, collaborations and subjects covered; Rosario Arquero and José Luis del Río (2002), who studied the first 25 years of Documentación de las Ciencias de la Información; and Gregorio González et al. (2007), who conducted a bibliometric and thematic analysis of the first two decades of Anales de Documentación.

With reference to BiD, we also have access to older articles on the journal’s origins, structure and evolution. First, Concepción Rodríguez (2001) published a brief review in which she described the journal’s sections and general characteristics. That same year, Rodríguez-Gairín (2001) used the generic parameters and indicators described by Lluís Codina (2000), which are designed to evaluate web resources, and adapted them for digital journals to assess the structure and digital features of BiD. In doing so, he highlighted several weak points and suggested ways to improve them. Later, Abadal and Estivill (2006) also carried out an extensive review of the journal’s sections, technological development and application of metadata, and its inclusion in the Temària portal and in international databases and portals.

A second group of studies on BiD mirrored the aforementioned bibliometric trend and include detailed analyses of the authors who have published in the journal and the topics they addressed. To mark the journal’s 10th anniversary, Candela Ollé and Mercè Porras (2008) analysed the content of each section, the topics covered (dominated by ICT, units of information, librarianship and information sources) and the languages used (dominated by Catalan). They also carried out a survey among members of the advisory board regarding the publication’s strengths and weaknesses. More recently, Mercè Vázquez et al. (2017) conducted a bibliometric study that explored the authors and topics of BiD and compared them to those of Anales de Documentación (AD)during the 2000–2013 period. The results revealed, on the one hand, that BiD addresses more practical topics of professional interest, while AD shows a preference for more theoretical and academic content. On the other hand, a certain amount of overlap was identified between the two journals in certain topics, specifically “public libraries”, “university libraries”, “digital libraries”, “ICT”, “information resources” and “information management”.

Since the two groups of authors mentioned above have carried out bibliometric studies relatively recently, repeating this process or pursuing this line of thinking was deemed to be of little value. Thus, our first goal is to present the historical evolution of the journal BiD through an analysis of three key stages, and our second is to frame this development within the context of Spanish journals in the field of information science.

 

2 A brief history

BiD was founded in 1998 by the former School of Library and Information Science at the University of Barcelona. It was not the first journal of the School of Library and Information Science, which had published its predecessor Biblioteconomía (1944–1976), created and run by the school’s director, Felipe Mateu y Llopis, until 1972. Biblioteconomía primarily targeted the professional sector with the aim of solving technical challenges encountered in the field of library management. Aurora Vall (2004) published a very detailed study in which she analysed changes in the journal’s publication schedule, its authors (mainly Catalan information science professionals), the language used (the first text in Catalan was not published until 1970) and the subjects covered (in which catalogues and cataloguing dominated). She also included a database dump of all articles published, with comprehensive subject indexes so that they could be accessed.

The original mission of BiD was to increase awareness of the School’s academic activity and disseminate research carried out at other Spanish university centres, as the presentation text explained:

“Our aim is for BiD: textos universitaris de biblioteconomia i documentació, the journal being presented here, to help open up and increase awareness of the activity of our School and its members. We want this desire for openness to be reciprocal and are therefore allowing all professionals, researchers and teachers of library and information science to access our ‘pages’ so that they can publicize their studies and activities.” (Miralpeix, 1997)

The journal was had three founding principles, which are still features of the journal today:

  1. Catalan and multilingual
    The School, as a higher education institution closely linked to the culture and science of Catalonia, had a strong commitment to disseminating the Catalan language. Since the aim was to publish academic texts, however, it also pursued a wide dissemination. The decision was therefore taken at the outset to include texts in any language. In fact, the very first issue included a bilingual text (Spanish) and an English text. Later, starting from issue 20 (June 2008), a full Spanish version and partial English versions were also made available.
  1. Digital
    One of the reasons for opting for the digital format was to make the journal sustainable, thereby ensuring its survival. At that time, consultation of digital journals was relatively uncommon. This meant that the journal was not widely disseminated, a fact that negatively impacted the journal at the start. However, these disadvantages were immediately offset. It was also decided that the journal would be published in HTML format and not distributed as a PDF version featuring a layout designed for print journals, as many journals continue to do today.
  1. Open access
    Although this term was not used, the journal was distributed for free from the outset, and a Creative Commons licence was incorporated within a few years.

Note that these three features were unusual for information science journals at that time. Only Cybermetrics, which appeared one year before BiD, in 1997, and which has not published any articles since 1913, was distributed in digital format, was exclusively in English and was also published in open access.

To offer an overview of the journal’s evolution over the last 20 years, we have broken the analysis down into three “classical” stages (foundation, growth and consolidation). For each stage, aspects related to its layout, structure, editorial team and database inclusion are examined.

 

2.1 Foundation (1998–2003)

This stage encompasses the journal’s first six years and 11 issues, which all retained the original layout and logo (shown in Figure 1). Since the first issue was published in June 1998, in fact, only one issue was released during the first year of the journal.

 

Figure 1. Summary of issue 2

Figure 1. Summary of issue 2

 

The journal consisted of just four sections at that time: “Articles”, “Norms and regulations” (translations of guidelines, etc.), “Activity reports” and “Reviews”. From the outset, Spanish authors and some foreign authors published their work in the journal. By issue 2, the sections “Tribune” and “Experiences” had been added.

The editorial structure started out as an editorial board that was made up of Ernest Abadal, Assumpció Estivill, Núria Jornet and Cristóbal Urbano in issue 1, and was subsequently expanded to include Jesús Gascón, Teresa Mañà, Anna Rubió, Concepción Rodríguez and Josep M. Rodríguez-Gairín. However, from the 10th issue on, the structure consisted of two editorial coordinators, a lead editor, HTML editors, technology support and section editors. From the start, the journal benefited from the support of the University of Barcelona’s Language Services, which took on the role of correcting Catalan texts and preparing the journal’s style guide.

 

2.2 Growth (2004–2012)

Starting from issue 12 (June 2004), the layout was changed, the logo was redesigned and versions of the journal in other languages (Spanish and English) were made more clearly visible. This triggered a period of growth that would last for nine years and 18 issues.

 

Figure 2. Front cover of issue 12 (June 2004)

Figure 2. Front cover of issue 12 (June 2004)

 

With regard to the editorial structure, the individuals responsible for editing and correcting the texts were named in issue 19, and the process for revising originals was systematized and included as one of the responsibilities (“Scientific edition”) in issue 23. Starting from issue 27, the monograph coordinators were included.

The Blok de BiD, which was launched in June 2010, featured in the journal from issue 25 on (December 2010). This was created as a supplement to the journal for the weekly publication of scientific study reviews unsuited to the half-yearly format of the journal’s issues. This also led to the renaming of the “Reviews” section to “Resources”.

In terms of international recognition, BiD has formed part of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) since that database’s creation in 2003. DOAJ later went on to update its inclusion requirements, which BiD also fulfilled. Later, in 2012, the journal received major recognition for its quality when it was indexed in the Scopus database. Since then, the journal’s content has been indexed periodically and entered in the database.

 

2.3 Consolidation (2013 to the present)

Since issue 30 (June 2013), BiD has been published jointly with the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya’s Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences. This represented another step towards ensuring the sustainability of the journal, supporting its growth and improving its quality.

 

Figure 3. Summary of issue 30

Figure 3. Summary of issue 30

 

With respect to the editorial team, members of the UOC were incorporated into each role, and joint UB/UOC teams were created to strengthen the journal.

With respect to external recognition, it obtained the FECYT Seal of Quality in 2014 and was included in the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) in 2016.

In terms of social networks, a Twitter profile was created in 2014 to announce the release of the journal issues and the Blok de BiD weekly reviews.

Both the UB and the UOC have scientific journal support services, and these have served as valuable tools to ensure that the journal’s commitment to continuous quality improvement is honoured. In the case of the UB, this responsibility falls to the Project Unit of the Learning and Research Resources Centre (Centre de Recursos per a l’Aprenentatge i la Investigació, or CRAI), which carries out advisory and training tasks for the individuals who manage journals. In the case of the UOC, the Scientific Publications Subcommittee of the University’s Research and Innovation Committee has helped prepare a strategic plan for the journal and an annual proposal for objectives.

 

3 Spanish context

Following this summary of the evolution of BiD, the journal can now be analysed within the Spanish context. How many journals were there 20 years ago? What were they like? What quality indicators did they meet? What problems and shortcomings did they experience? A historical retrospective study would be too time consuming; however, we can refer to three studies carried out at that time and compare their results to today’s situation.

First of all, Elea Giménez, Luis Rodríguez Yunta and Adelaida Román (2000) applied the 24 Latindex editorial quality criteria to the 21 information science journals active at that time in Spain. Shortly afterwards, Emilio Delgado (2001) carried out a similar exercise when he analysed the quality of information and of the editorial process in those same 21 journals, and included a series of 14 quality improvement measures. Finally, Ángel Villagrá and Ángela Sorli (2003) analysed 17 Spanish information science journals over a 10-year period (1992–2001). Their study took a broader approach to the analysis than the previous two, since they considered not only the journals’ fulfilment of editorial quality indicators and degree of openness or endogamy (based on the composition of editorial boards and author diversity), but also the recognition or prestige of the journals among the scientific and professional community (a review by experts based on a survey).

Below is an overview of today’s Spanish information science journals that includes data on four general characteristics (longevity, editor profile, inclusion in databases and open-access publication) and then compares this information to the situation more than 15 years ago, based on an assessment of the three studies mentioned above.

 

3.1 Overview

The MIAR directory (Information Matrix for Evaluating Journals) lists 44 Spanish journals in the field of information science. Our selection excludes journals that are not strictly scientific and those that have not published any issues for more than four years. This resulted in a table of 19 titles, which offer an overview of today’s Spanish scientific journals.

 

 

Title
Publisher
Created
Databases
FECYT
DOAJ
Aabadom: boletín de la Asociación Asturiana de Bibliotecarios, Archiveros, Documentalistas y Museólogos AABADOM
1990
 
 
 
Anales de documentación (AD) Univ. Murcia
1998
Scopus, ESCI
Yes
Yes
Anuario ThinkEPI (EPI) EPI
2007
 
 
 
BiD: textos universitaris de biblioteconomia i documentació UB, UOC
1998
Scopus, ESCI
Yes
Yes
Boletín de la Anabad ANABAD
1950
 
 
 
Boletín de la Asociación Andaluza de Bibliotecarios (BAAB) AAB
1984
 
 
 
Cuadernos de documentación multimedia (CDM) Univ. Complutense
1992
ESCI
 
 
Documentación de las ciencias de la información (DCI) Univ. Complutense
1976
ESCI
 
Yes
Hipertext.net UPF
2002
 
 
Yes
Ibersid Univ. Zaragoza
2007
Scopus, ESCI
Yes
 
Item: revista de biblioteconomia i documentació COBDC
1975
 
 
 
Lligall. Revista catalana d'arxivística Associació d'Arxivers de Catalunya-Gestors Documentals (AAC-GD)
1988
 
 
 
Métodos de información (MEI) COBDCV
1994
ESCI
 
Yes
El profesional de la información (EPI) EPI
1992
Scopus, SSCI
Yes
 
Revista española de documentación científica (REDC) CSIC
1977
Scopus, SSCI
Yes
Yes
Revista general de información y documentación (RGID) Univ. Complutense
1991
Scopus, ESCI
Yes
Yes
Scire Univ. Zaragoza
1995
Scopus, ESCI
Yes
 
Tabula: revista de archivos de Castilla y León Asociación de Archiveros de Castilla y León (ACAL)
1992
 
 
 
Tria Asociación de Archiveros de Andalucía (AAA)
1994
 
 
 

Table 1. Current Spanish information science journals(Source: MIAR)

 

In terms of longevity, Boletín de la Anabad (1950) is the oldest. This is followed by three journals from the 1970s: Butlletí de l'Associació de Bibliotecàries (Item's predecessor) (1975), DCI (1976) and REDC (1977). Two of the journals were founded in the 1980s, 10 in the 1990s and three more during the first decade of the 21st century, which is when the more recent journals in this field were launched.

The journals that were included in the three aforementioned studies but not in our study (given that they have not published any issues for more than four years or are not considered scientific) are as follows: Boletín AEDOM, Bilduma, Cybermetrics, Educación y bibliotecas (EB), Forinf@, Journal of Spanish Research on Information Science and Palimpsesto. On the other hand, our study includes the three journals that were launched in the first decade of the 21st century: Hipertext (2002), Anuario ThinkEPI and Ibersid (both in 2007).

Based on their level of recognition in databases, three groups can be created, with a total of 10 journals. Although EPI and REDC enjoy the greatest recognition levels, note that a significant number of journals provide clear evidence of the quality improvement that has been achieved in recent years. If we look at the dates on which EPI was first entered in Scopus (2006) and WoS (2008), and REDC was first entered in Scopus and WoS (2008), it is clear that these events have all taken place in the last 10 years.

 

 

 
Journals
Comments
Maximum recognition EPI, REDC In Scopus and SSCI
High recognition AD, BiD, Ibersid, Scire, RGID In Scopus and ESCI, FECYT Seal of Quality
Significant recognition CDM, DCI, MEI In Scopus or ESCI

Table 2. Inclusion in databases (Source: MIAR)

 

The study by Giménez et al. (2000) also analysed the journals’ inclusion in international statewide databases, specifically LISA and Francis.1 At that time, the most indexed journals were Banabad and REDC (which were included in both databases), followed by BAAB, EPI, Item, RGID and Scire (which were included in one of the two databases). Villagrá and Sorli (2003) examined the journals’ inclusion in ISA, LISA, Francis, BUBL and Inspec and concluded that EPI was the most indexed, with five entries, closely followed by REDC, with four. Four journals (AD, Banabad, RGID and Scire) had a single entry. The main overlap occurred with REDC and EPI, which were also indexed in the highest number of international databases; however, the main difference was that the four professional journals (Banabad, BAAB, EB and Item), which made up almost half of this exclusive group at that time, have now disappeared from the list completely.

Once all Spanish journals are put into context, it becomes evident that information science journals enjoy significant international recognition, especially given the limited size of the field. This was clear in a recent study on the dissemination and recognition of Spanish scientific journals in all disciplines (Somoza et al., 2017), which revealed that certain, more socially recognizable disciplines such as law had fewer journals indexed in international databases.

The other major change that has occurred in the last 20 years is the diversified strategy of journals published by academic institutions when compared to journals published by professional associations and bodies. The latter have improved in terms of their fulfilment of quality indicators, but they have not moved much beyond this, except in the case of Métodos de información (COBDCV), which is indexed in ESCI. This is to be expected, because they are geared primarily towards professionals rather than researchers, and therefore have little incentive to compete for citations for their articles. This gap was already beginning to open up almost 20 years ago (Delgado, 2001). The only exception is EPI, which is owned by a private publisher.

With respect to DOAJ, only six journals have been indexed, the first of which was BiD (2003). The editorial policies of some journals state that they are open access (such examples include Ibersid and Scire) or that they offer free access to content (e.g. CDM), but they are not yet included in this prestigious directory.

 

3.2 Comparison

Below is a comparison of the current situation and the analyses carried out by Giménez et al. (2000), Delgado (2001) and Villagrá and Sorli (2003). Although the articles were written at different times and took different approaches, it is clear that they agree in their overall assessments. In the 15 to 20 years that have passed since these articles were written, considerable progress has been made in terms of the characteristics, visibility and operation of Spanish information science journals.

Giménez et al. (2000, p.340–341) divided the challenges faced by information science journals into three categories: awareness of the way they should look and journal style (guidelines for authors, bibliographic entries, etc.), application of documentary analysis (the inclusion of abstracts and keywords in several languages) and transparency in the review processes (external evaluators, indication of the process, indication of receipt, review and publication dates, etc.). Thus, the article also highlighted common indicators that all journals would need to assess first.

Delgado (2001, p.55–56) proposed a list of 14 improvement measures that should be applied to information science journals in a section titled Mirando hacia el futuro: plan estratégico de mejora de las revistas españolas de cd (Looking to the future: strategic plan for improving Spanish information science journals). The first 10 refer to quality in questions of style (similar to those mentioned in the previous paragraph), two refer to the computerization of editorial management processes (tracking of originals and revisions), and the remaining two call for a more professionalized editorial team and the establishment of quality audit systems in publishing processes.

Villagrá and Sorli (2003, p.459–460) closed their article with a series of conclusions that revealed the key weaknesses of Spanish information science journals: the number of articles published was low (135 per year in total), the quality of their appearance in general terms was questionable and endogamy indices were too high. They also mentioned that university and professional journals enjoyed similar levels of quality recognition.

If these findings are compared to the situation today, it is clear that most journals have addressed the vast majority of weaknesses and limitations related to aspects of their overall appearance and style (guidelines for authors, translation of titles, abstracts, etc.) and editorial aspects (the most serious of which was not having a clearly explained expert review system). Also, a significant number of the journals have successfully been included in international databases. At present, therefore, the degree of compliance with quality of form indicators is very high among all journals, not only the most indexed.

Secondly, it is also clear that corporatism has declined, and all journals now seek to incorporate work by authors from outside their institutions and by foreign authors. To illustrate this point, BiD had the highest indicator of endogamy at 60% (Villagrá; Sorli, 2003, p.455), whereas it now lies below reference levels.

Thirdly, the computerization of editorial processes, with regard to both the internal management of manuscripts and the procedures for publishing and displaying final articles, has also been implemented across the board.

In addition to the three improvements mentioned above, a significant gap has also opened up between journals published by university and research institutions and those that are published by professional associations and bodies. This gap can be explained by the fact that many authors are required to fulfil academic recognition conditions and therefore seek to publish their work in journals that are indexed in leading international databases; professional journals, on the other hand, have a different target audience with more practical needs. While both journal types may have enjoyed similar levels of external recognition in the past, this is certainly no longer the case, and journals published by academic institutions have taken a giant step forward.

Lastly, little progress has been made in the two areas mentioned at the end of Emilio Delgado’s list. First, the need for the professionalization of journals has not been met and there is no indication that this situation is set to improve in the short or medium term, mainly because of a lack of financial resources. Secondly, quality assessment and accreditation processes similar to those commonly used for university degrees, for example, have not been implemented.

 

4 Final assessment

This article has analysed the creation and growth of the journal BiD within the context of other Spanish journals in the field. BiD was created in accordance with three founding principles that were groundbreaking at the time and are still features of the journal today: digital format, open access and multilingual versions. The sections have undergone changes over the last 20 years, before the current four were finally settled on, and the journal has adopted the practice of addressing monographic topics in each issue that are entrusted to an external editor. It deserves special praise for the external recognition it has achieved by being indexed in two prestigious international databases, Scopus and ESCI, and by obtaining the FECYT Seal of Quality. It has made progress in its fulfilment of the benchmarks set for all scientific journals, but it must set new milestones every year if it is to continue improving. In this regard, the annual plans that the UOC requests of its journals represent an effective tool.

This analysis of the journal’s evolution and its current situation should serve to create a series of improvement measures or proposals to be implemented over the coming years. The list is long, but we will highlight four:

  1. Increase the degree of professionalization.
    This has already been mentioned above. Although the journal has made some progress towards increasing professionalization (by partially outsourcing correction and translation tasks), it has not reached the minimum standards required due to a lack of financial resources. Note that BiD is co-published by two universities and does not charge publishing fees (the infamous APCs, article processing charges), so its budgetary resources are limited and always take account of the time spent on the journal by the staff of the two universities.
  1. Increase the number of originals received.
    This is a general issue among journals that are not indexed in WoS and is therefore a problem for BiD. The publication of monographic issues and promotional activities carried out by coordinators to attract texts help a little, although they are not the solution.
  1. Incorporate new functions and features.
    Over the years, the features that allow readers to interact with the content have been updated (statistics, search function, similar text searches, citations, PDFs, etc.), but there is still a long way to go. The inclusion of altmetrics, for example, would represent an innovative feature. The fact that BiD does not use a specific editing program makes this a more laborious task.
  1. Increase dissemination actions.
    This would lead to the content being more widely read and more easily disseminated on social networks and, most probably, to more citations.

The lines of action proposed here can be surely be applied to other Spanish information science journals. We will have an opportunity in the future to assess the degree to which they have been fulfilled, perhaps when the journal celebrates its next key anniversary in 10 years’ time.

 

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Vàzquez, Mercè; Ardanuy, Jordi; López-Borrull, Alexandre; Ollé, Candela (2017). “Scientific output in library and information science: A comparative study of the journals Anales de Documentación and BiD textos universitaris en biblioteconomia i documentació”. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. <doi.org/10.1177/0961000617729199>. [Consulted: 10/04/2018].

Villagrá Rubio, Ángel; Sorli Rojo, Ángela (2003). “Calidad, pluralismo y prestigio de las revistas españolas de biblioteconomía y documentación”. Revista española de Documentación Científica, vol. 26, No. 4, p. 445-460. <http://dx.doi.org/10.3989/redc.2003.v26.i4.145>. [Consulted: 10/04/2018].

 

Notes

1Note that Web of Science did not yet feature on the list.

 

 

Recommended citation

Abadal, Ernest (2018). "How BiD and Spanish information science journals have changed over the last 20 years". BiD: textos universitaris de biblioteconomia i documentació, núm. 40 (juny) . <http://bid.ub.edu/en/40/abadal.htm>. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/BiD2018.40.12 [Consulta: 23-09-2018].