Published July 6, 2018 | Version v1
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In a NATSHEL: the NATO Studies Open Portal and International Relations


Opinions and trends in the realm of international relations (IR) are hardly shaped by scientific journals. They are more likely to emerge in articles and reports released by think tanks and (inter)governmental agencies exerting great influence on politicians and policy-makers. It is no mystery that neoconservative think tanks played an overwhelming role in setting the rationale for the 2nd Iraqi War. NATSHEL – the NATO Studies Open Portal created by the NATO Defense College - draws on a citation analysis focused on the papers released by three think tanks having global resonance. Results showed that no less than 80-85 percent of these citations includes open access publications freely available on the web.In spite of their high influence, these strategic sources do not receive an Impact Factor and do not build up an academic reputation for their authors. My contribution will explore two major components of open science in IR. First: sources. An array of think tanks, NGOs and IGOs are now releasing policy-oriented and wellfocused strategic papers. Some of these sources may well be partisan and compliant to political agendas. The majority of them, however, are fine analyses providing an accurate description of the strategic factors determining major international trends. The academic community values these papers to such an extent that they are often considered primary sources for articles to be published in peer-reviewed journals. The second component concerns the platforms where strategic sources of open access are aggregated and distributed. Platforms include paid-for databases (as specialized EBSCO and Proquest databases), paid-for databases aggregating freely accessible articles only (such as CIAO) and freely accessible platforms of freely accessible
articles (such as the EU-TTR aggregation of EUrelated publications).These considerations have been taken into
account when formulating a strategy for NATSHEL – the NATO Studies Open Portaldesigned to promote NATO studies. Strategic sources do not fit eligibility criteria for Impact Factor assignment; therefore, citation indexes such as Scopus or Web of Science do not cover them. Libraries, too, seem to disregard them.NDC staff matched records present in the NDC
Catalogue with those existing in WorldCat, the well-known OCLC Register, to find evidence on how poorly strategic resources are covered.Loosely dispersed in the Google jungle, they are even harder to retrieve since metadata describing them are often inadequate as they are produced by individual researchers, and not by libraries or specialized agencies. Hence, the rationale for NATSHEL and its value for the advance of NATO and IR studies. NATSHEL is not an institutional repository of strategic resources, but a constantly updated gateway where items are accurately described, records are linked to website locations and wide dissemination is ensured within the WorldCat environment. Open data are invisible if they are not aggregated in open platforms. Individual libraries and library networks can do a lot to frame the distribution of quality publishing in IR, provided that strategic open science is skillfully aggregated and adequately promoted.


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