“CNKI, a portal for Chinese academic papers, will restrict foreign access to some databases starting April 1, for security concerns
It is unclear when access might be resumed, leading some scholars to fear the suspension might become permanent….
China’s top internet portal for academic papers will suspend foreign access to some databases starting next week, sparking concerns among scholars that they will lose not only an important resource for understanding China but also a useful guardrail to reduce misunderstanding between China and the West.
This week, research institutions around the world – including the University of California, San Diego, Kyoto University and the Berlin State Library – notified affiliates that they would indefinitely lose access to up to four databases provided by the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) platform starting on April 1….
For academics studying China, CNKI is an invaluable resource, particularly with the current uncertainty surrounding visits to China for field research….
Over 95 per cent of Chinese academic papers that are formally published are available on CNKI, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation, China’s antitrust watchdog, when it conducted a separate review of the platform’s practices….”
“China’s top research organisation has suspended its use of the country’s largest academic database, causing some scholars to question whether its stranglehold on the sector might be loosened. Several research institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have pulled out of its subscription to the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) due to mounting subscription fees, local news outlet Caixin reported. According to reports, CAS made the decision over mounting costs. In 2021, CAS paid ¥10 million (£1.2 million) to access the database, with a similar amount expected for 2022. Academics said the reasoning behind the move – long-simmering frustrations over fees – was understandable enough. But they wondered what its knock-on effects could be in a market largely controlled by a single, powerful player. Roughly 90 per cent of China’s journal articles are listed on CNKI, according to estimates. Futao Huang, a professor at the Research Institute for Higher Education at Hiroshima University, suggested that CNKI’s monopoly was under threat. While he said it was “extremely difficult” to predict what could happen, a reduced role for CNKI “might open up the market to new players”, including open access platforms, which allow readers to access papers for free….
Fei Shu, a senior researcher in the Chinese Academy of Science and Education Evaluation at Hangzhou Dianzi University, argued that “oligopoly” was a more fitting term for the country’s research database market, but he was also sceptical that a move away from its biggest player would result in a proliferation of openly accessible journal articles. “In my perspective, some other research institutions will follow the CAS and stop [their] subscription if they cannot get a deal with CNKI,” similar to when Western sectors boycotted Elsevier in the past, he said. “However, it has little to do with open access. In China, due to [its] censorship, OA is not favoured and promoted by the government. I don’t believe that this situation will change in a short term.””
Abstract: Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), initiated in 1999 by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd., is both the largest institutional repository in China and a near-monopoly provider of for-pay academic databases with a higher profit margin than Elsevier or Wiley, among other services. With promotion and support from the government, CNKI keeps developing its track towards open access . CNKI offers free access to millions of documents ranging from dissertations and academic articles to popular and party journals. The COAA, Chinese Open Access Aggregator, launched in 2019, makes available more than 10,000 open access journals, although foreign scholars may find it difficult to benefit from this due to the language. CNKI has played an important role in making works on COVID-19 freely available, as well as in expanding access to subscribers at home during lock-down.
“At present, China is courageously fighting against the COVID-19. Driven by the expectations of the whole country and even the whole world, Chinese medical talents have urgently launched all-round research on issues such as disease prevention and control, pathology, clinical diagnosis and treatment, and the development of new drugs, sparing no effort to make key technology breakthroughs as soon as possible and to completely defeat the epidemic. As the researches move on, more and more new achievements will be made in the near future. The research is not only a particularly important project but also a severe challenge for the medical circle of China and the world. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to publish the latest domestic and foreign research achievements as soon as possible and to provide timely, comprehensive and systematic knowledge services to the public and the professionals both at home and abroad, which is also a major responsibility of Chinese academic journals on medicine and health and relevant online platforms and also provides an important opportunity for China’s development of world-class research journals.
After deliberation, the Chinese Medical Association Publishing House, the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, Chinese Medical Doctor Association, China Association of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Medical Association, and China Academic Journals (CD Edition) Electronic Publishing House Co., Ltd. jointly advocate to mobilize the journals affiliated to these associations and the outstanding academic journals on medicine and health across China, especially the journals that have already started online-first publishing in China National Knowledge Infrastructure ?CNKI?, for immediate action. In particular, great efforts will be made to focus on the research on COVID-19 as a major topic, to organize open access?OA? publishing of high-quality and high-level research achievements in CNKI, to apply research achievements to the fight against the epidemic as soon as possible, and to facilitate the wide spread of research achievements across China and the world. The cost for open access publication and related services will be completely covered by CNKI….”