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Open Access Rules in France: Persée, érudit, and revues.org

Interlibrary loan is often the only way to get hold of foreign-language-journal articles here at Villanova, given the University’s focus on undergraduate education and the limited demand for academic journals in languages other than English. The library’s foreign language subscriptions are generally only available in print, further complicating access in a time when online access is the norm. The French academic publishing environment took its time to embrace online access, but the wait was well worth it. Today the archives of a large number of humanities and social sciences journals published in France and Quebec are freely available online. Three open access platforms preserve French scholarship: Persée, érudit and revues.org. All three platforms are partially integrated with each other to improve content discovery.

Named after Perseus, the legendary hero of Greek mythology, Persée is an open access archive of French academic journals initiated by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research in order to preserve and disseminate French scholarship. Over the years Persée has expanded to include social sciences journals, besides the original humanities journals, as well as French Canadian journals and dissertations archived on the érudit platform. Most of the journals archived in Persée have a moving access wall restricting access to current content to subscribing institutions. Persée currently archives more than 135 academic journals and over 400,000 articles, mostly in French. It indexes an additional 38 French Canadian journals which are archived on the érudit platform. Anybody with an internet connection can search the complete archive and browse individual journals.

Like Persée, revues.org is an open access journal platform. It is part of the OpenEdition portal run by the Centre pour l’édition électronique ouverte (Cléo) in Marseille. While the back issues of all 381 journals archived on this platform can be accessed freely by anyone, the access to current content of some journals is restricted to subscribers. In some cases free online access is limited to html format, and only subscribers are permitted to download articles as PDF files. The archives of some journals are divided between the Persée and revues.org platforms with the deep back files stored in Persée and the more recent years available on revues.org.

Both the Persée and the revues.org platforms include central search boxes which will search the content of all archived journals while also allowing the reader to search or browse individual journals. Aside from proper names, search terms should be entered in French since most of the publications are in French. Interested readers can bookmark their favorite journals or set up email alerts (via an RSS feeds) for new content. The journal articles archived in Persée and revues.org are at least partially indexed in various library databases, such as the International Medieval Bibliography, Historical Abstracts, and L’Année Philologique. The familiar blue Find It button will link directly to the open access journal titles archived in Persée. The library is still in the process of establishing a similar link to journals on the revues.org platform. All articles include citations with a date stamp, URL and sometimes a digital object identifier (DOI). Persée also has a citation export function which will download citation information to EndNote and RefWorks.
Most of the journals archived in Persée and revues.org are not part of the Library’s journal subscriptions, so that adding these platforms to the Library’s full-text-link service considerably expands access to foreign language journals. As for the limited number of French journals to which Falvey subscribes, among them Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, the Annales historiques de la Révolution française and the Revue philosophique de Louvain, adding these titles to the Library’s E-Journal Finder will increase overall accessibility.

I hope this description will encourage you to take a look at these open access journal platforms and to browse available journals in your subject area. What is your favorite open access scholarly resource? Email the name and URL directly to me (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post it online, and I will feature it in a future blog post.

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Last Modified: December 19, 2012