Posts Tagged ‘International Journal of the Commons’

International Journal of the Commons in the News

Great news from IJC!  First, we are delighted with our current issue, which is coming out in the next week.  In this, you will find 6 new research articles covering commons issues in a wide variety of localities using a range of methodological approaches from experimental economics to ethnography and several stops in between.  There are also two special features.  One is the initial forays of a new meta-analysis research program – the Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database – that attempts to operationalize the SES Framework of Elinor Ostrom.  This includes 5 case study analyses that utilize the database and framework, as well as a comparative piece across the variety of cases studied.  The other special feature, led by Tim Moss, is on the Spatialities of the Commons, and consists of 4 studies that explicitly address spatial research in the study of the commons, an under-researched area of the field.  We think that this issue is another strong example of the excellent work being done by scholars of the commons, which leads to my next point.

The journal has recently received its first impact factor (a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal) from ISI, calculated at 1.538.  We are elated with this score for a young journal that has only recently been recognized by ISI.  In the Environmental Studies category, we rank 38th out of 96.  Again, we see this as validation of the great work being done.  We hope that this recognition will help establish a virtuous cycle in which the journal continues to improve!!

With that in mind, a huge public thank you to all of our readers, authors, and reviewers!

New issue of International Journal of the Commons out

For the latest scholarship on the commons and common-pool resources, see the newest issue of the International Journal of the Commons, which was released late last week:

We are very excited about an issue that demonstrates:

  • A wide range of methodologies from social network analysis to historical analysis to systems dynamics models to case studies to econometric models and
  • A Czech Republic to South Korea to Bolivia to Spain to Japan to the United States

We would like to thank our authors, our reviewers, and most especially our readers for continuing to improve the quality of this journal.  Much thanks!

More thoughts on Open Access Journals

Recently an article in Science surveyed open access journals and found a number of distressing findings with respect to the peer review process.  An overview is available at:

The original version in Science is at:

As the Science article acknowledges, the same results could be found if we did a survey of traditional journals as well.  However, this was not done.  It would be interesting to see the results if PLOS One or another leading open access journal surveyed the traditional journal field.  Clearly, open access has opened the gates of “for profit” publishing wider, but I know of no serious academic that would either publish in such disreputable journals or seriously consider their work as quality research.  However, the Science article buries the problem with academic publishing beneath the castigating byline on the perils of open access journals.  While the pay for publication practices of some OA journals are clearly problematic, so is the traditional model of publishing, which is clearly broken.  Resting on the free labor of academics, publishing houses are currently reaping substantial profits.  These outfits are often slow (cutting research appearing years after the fact), exclusive (charges of $50+ for a typical article), and Western country-biased.  None of these four issues is mentioned in the original article, and none of these is necessary any more.  They can and are being addressed – mostly through Open Access publications.

Personally, I am closely involved with a few open access journals (and a few traditional journals as well), and they do a great job at ameliorating these problems without the shortcomings noted in the article.  The International Journal of the Commons is double-blind peer-reviewed by 3 reviewers (at minimum), has an editorial board of highly reputable and energetic scholars, and is supported by both the ISI Web of Science and Scopus, the two leading academic journal indexing bodies.  It is also free to download our articles, with most articles attracting hundreds or thousands of downloads.  It makes articles immediately available on our website without the wait for quarterly or semi-annual issues.  In addition, many of our readers, contributing authors, and reviewers are from developing countries with limited access to the traditional published journals.  IJC eliminates the problems of so many traditional publications without sacrificing high quality or reviewing standards.  My experience with Ecology and Society is the same on all counts.

Before jumping to conclusions and throwing all OA journals into the fire, let’s run the same test on traditional journals.  Then we can go back and focus on what’s important – high quality scholarship.  From there, we can look to the other problems that I’ve mentioned – speed, cost, and access.

Open Access International Journal of the Commons now indexed!

Some time ago, I wrote a post ( about how IJC was finally being recognized by Scopus, the primary academic indexing organization in Europe.  I am happy to say that after two more years of sweat equity, the International Journal of the Commons ( is now recognized by ISI, the leading publishing group in the US.

The importance of this stems from being an open access journal.  It seems that Open Access publishing is a real touchstone in academia now with a slew of articles in the Chronicle, on academic blogs, and through the big-time publishing houses.  Many of the charges against open access publishing are ridiculous, but a number of unscrupulous, for-profit open-access journals create an atmosphere where publication seems based solely on ability to pay.  This is decidedly not what open access publishing is about.

IJC publications are paid by the contributing authors after rigorous peer review (with exceptions made for developing country authorship).  This is where ISI recognition helps.  It shows that our journal abides by stringent standards, publishes high quality literature, and contributes to the scientific advancement of society.  At the same time, authors retain their copyrights, articles are accessible anywhere there is an internet connection for free, and our readership can move to practitioner and developing country readers beyond the paywalls of the main publishing companies.  ISI examined our 7 years of publication, the quality of our authors, the citation rates for the articles, and the consistency of publication.

Congratulations to my co-editor and friend, Frank van Laerhoven, to Erling Berge for his editorial prowess over the past several years,  to our outstanding editorial board, to the institutional support of IASC, and, most importantly, to our diligent and dedicated reviewers.  Without all of your help, this achievement would not be possible.  Thank you!

A Short Riff on Open Access Journals

Over the past few months, my good friend and co-editor of the International Journal of the Commons, Frank van Laerhoven has spoken and written eloquently about open access scientific journals in a number of places.  This link ( goes to an interview with Frank on the subject.

For the present purposes, I wanted to make a few comments for a broader readership that may not know what I’m mean by open access publications.  I’m referring to online academic journals that are available free of charge.  If your child is working on a school project, try these.  If your interested in a specific area, check them out.  There are many available.  So on to my comments…  

First, open access scientific publications are growing rapidly.  These are different from blogs, such as this one, and other unreviewed web sources.  Open access journals are often peer reviewed to the same or higher standards than print journals.  IJC is currently tracked by Scopus (the European academic journal accreditor) and will hopefully be tracked by ISI (the American version) soon.  All of our articles are reviewed by 3 experts in the field in a double-blind process.  So if there are no differences in quality to traditional journals, what are the differences?

There are two main ones in my mind.  First, it continues to baffle me why journals still force publications into an annual print cycle of monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual publication.  The internet allows us to immediately share the latest breaking scientific advancements as soon as they have been reviewed.  It also provides a mechanism to have others comment and respond – either in a reviewed format or in a more public forum – in manners that are missing or veerrry slow in print versions.  

Second, our journal’s readership, authors, and editorial board are scattered globally.  Many are in developing countries.  One of the major issues with traditional publishing formats is that journal subscription is geared toward libraries.  As a result, individual subscriptions and access to individual articles is prohibitively expensive.  If individuals don’t have access to a Research One caliber library, they often have no access to the publications, electronically or in print.  This is unacceptable for us, given our topic.  Instead, we offer open access freely to anyone with internet access.  In addition, authors retain copyrights to their work, as opposed to the copyrights in traditional journals where authors and reviewers alike often work as indentured servants to the publishing houses.

The downside to this free access, is that we require a publication fee for authors.  Through volunteerism (editors and reviewers), low-cost (and somewhat minimalist) copy-editing, and minimal overhead, we can keep the charges to $15/page.  A standard article comes in at around $300.  This contrasts with other pay-for-publication journals of closer to $1000.  We know that this is a challenge, but granting agencies are quite open to covering these costs.  We also try to offset these expenses for developing country submissions.

My view is that open access journalism will continue to grow at an exponential pace.  The traditional journals continue to be under attack for profiteering off the hard work of others and offer flawed output.  I don’t see them going away entirely, but I’m optimistic for the future of our journal and other open access offerings.  Please support us and see what is available at: