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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Érudit: The Not-for-profit Academic Publishing platform with Québécois Roots and a Global Outlook

By Chloë Marshall, Alice Fusai and Frankie Harnett


Érudit, a non-profit academic publishing organisation headquartered in Québec, stands as a pivotal force in disseminating academic research. Founded in 1998 by the University of Montréal Publishing House to support their publications, Érudit has evolved into an inter-university consortium in collaboration with Université Laval and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). With its publishing platform and library of academic journals predominantly in the humanities and social sciences, Érudit is committed to fostering Open Access to scholarly knowledge. By 2015, Érudit had emerged as Canada's premier web service, offering unrestricted access to publications in both French and English, marking a significant milestone in the democratisation of academic knowledge.


This democratisation is indeed testified by solid numbers. Over 95% of the content available on the platform is freely accessible, with a standard two-year publishing window. Moreover, Érudit has undertaken ambitious digitisation initiatives, making entire historical archives of several journals accessible online. This includes collections from the renowned French Persée portal, publications from the National Research Council of Canada, and materials from the Electronic Text Centre of the University of New Brunswick.


But Érudit’s dedication to the dissemination of knowledge doesn’t only come from its strong Open Access policies – fostering research is another of its core missions. With interesting integrated tools to store and analyse raw data, the platform provides a unique way for scholars to explore social sciences topics, as these are systematically organised and classified by the platform. This structured approach enhances discoverability and accessibility, enabling users to navigate the extensive repository with ease.

 

As a non-profit platform, in order to gain international prestige, Érudit’s various partnerships are integral to its success. One of its most widely publicised partnerships is the Coalition Publica, in collaboration with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). This is a high-profile Canadian partnership that works as part of an international movement for the free circulation of knowledge and information, with a specific focus on sustainable digital publishing of the social sciences and humanities. A big part of this is the combination of PKP’s Open Journal Systems Software and Érudit’s digital platform, which together help develop the infrastructure needed to support widespread Open Access publishing.

 

Another significant partnership is Érudit’s joint venture with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ has a history of publishing in a wide range of languages with 14,450 journals in seventy five different languages. Their work with Érudit focuses on fostering research in non-English languages, with a particular focus on French to offset the dominance of English in published research and encourage diversity in both the research itself and the available publication. Tanja Niemann, Érudit’s Executive Director, is particularly excited for the partnership, seeing it as “a good way to recognise the quality of access journals disseminated on Érudit and to increase their visibility, discoverability, and impact.”

Érudit’s evolving position within the Canadian academic publishing industry is increasingly and undeniably crucial in the movement towards Open Access publishing. The importance of such an organisation cannot be understated in today’s world, where the commercialisation of data and restricted access to quality research is a real threat to knowledge sharing. Érudit has not only contributed towards a non-commercial dissemination of both Francophone and Anglophone scholarship, but given a respected platform to hundreds of journals in social sciences, humanities and the arts. Their valorisation and dissemination of Francophone research on an international scale – importantly, not to the detriment of their Anglophone journals and readership – is an admirable and critical position in the context of Quebec’s relationship to the global Francophone population. In addition, their own, more reflexive study of the structure and systems of scholarship across Canada is valuable research allowing the betterment of the information infrastructures in which they operate. This is further aided by their innovative use of open-source software and their commitment to assuring the durability of their services and access to the research they both facilitate and distribute.

 

Such a non-commercial perspective on scholarship is key to Érudit’s dramatic growth in recent years; far from restricting potential, their not-for-profit model allows them to reach a wider audience. Today, they are well-positioned to exploit the positive potential of Open Access publishing in providing solutions to the harmful effects of globalisation and untempered information sharing, by ensuring strict quality control measures such as peer review. Such solutions must be anchored in free, unrestricted access to funded research, allowing healthy competition and an open conversation between not just scholars, but all stakeholders, made possible by the breakdown of economic, linguistic and technical barriers.

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