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2022 Best JASIST Paper Award

"Open is Not Forever: A Study of Vanished Open Access Journals" Selected for 2022 JASIST Best Paper Award 

The Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) is delighted to announce that "Open is Not Forever: A Study of Vanished Open Access Journals” written by Mikael Laakso, Lisa Matthias, and Najko Jahn published in Volume 72, Issue 9 of the Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology (JASIST) is the recipient of the ASIS&T Best JASIST Paper Award for 2022.  

The award’s purpose is to recognize the best refereed paper published in the volume year of JASIST preceding the ASIS&T annual meeting. JASIST is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. The article was selected as the winner from among a pool of outstanding submissions that were judged based on these criteria: contribution; professional merit; and presentation quality.  

The paper examines the ambiguity and complexity in the preservation of the scholarly record caused by the shift toward digital publishing and, in particular, the introduction of open access (OA). Consequently, the long-term accessibility of journals is not always guaranteed, and they can even disappear from the web completely. The focus of this exploratory study is on the phenomenon of vanished journals, something that has not been carried out before. For the analysis, the team consulted several major bibliographic indexes, such as Scopus, Ulrichsweb, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, and traced the journals through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. They found 174 OA journals that, through lack of comprehensive and open archives, vanished from the web between 2000 and 2019, spanning all major research disciplines and geographic regions of the world. Their results raise vital concern for the integrity of the scholarly record and highlight the urgency to take collaborative action to ensure continued access and prevent the loss of more scholarly knowledge. They encourage those interested in the phenomenon of vanished journals to use the public dataset for their own research. 

Mikael Laakso is an Associate Professor in Information Systems Science at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. Most of his research during the last ten years has revolved around studying different aspects of scholarly publishing through combinations of bibliometrics, web metrics, business models, and science policy. Lisa Matthias is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and a member of the Scholarly Communications Lab at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Her research on scholarly communication examines practices of knowledge production and dissemination as well as research assessment. Najko Jahn works as a data analyst at the Göttingen State and University Library at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany, and is a PhD candidate at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. His research focuses on two interrelated strands: the transition of scholarly journal publishing to open access and the evolution of open scholarly data. 

Upon learning of their article’s selection for the 2022 Best JASIST Paper Award, the team said, “We were thrilled for the study to receive such a prestigious acknowledgment. When we started this project, we had no idea the results would be of such wide interest and lead to practical impact almost immediately after publication. Our interest in the topic was piqued when, during previous studies we conducted together, we came across a few individual journals that seemed to have vanished from the Web. To our surprise, we could not find any existing comprehensive studies on vanishing journals, so we designed an exploratory study around the phenomenon, developing our definitions, data collection methodology, and analysis tools as we iterated on the observations we collected. We found at least 174 journals that had lost substantial amounts of content by disappearing from the Web, and numerous other journals at risk of vanishing in the coming years. While these results were not positive, bringing the problem to light and providing quantifiable evidence made it possible to take action and minimize future losses. Not long after our study was published, five central organizations ( launched a collaborative preservation initiative to facilitate the archiving of open access journals that are not currently being preserved. We are honored to have been selected for this award, thank you for the recognition!” 

Laakso will accept the award at the 2022 Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 29 –November 1, 2022.