SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) is a bibliographic database, digital library, and cooperative electronic publishing model of open access journals. SciELO was created to meet the scientific communication needs of developing countries and provides an efficient way to increase visibility and access to scientific literature [2] Originally established in Brazil in 1997, today there are 16 countries in the SciELO network and its journal collections: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[3]

ProducerFAPESP - BIREME (Brazil)
LanguagesEnglish, Portuguese, Spanish
Record depthIndex, abstract & full-text
Format coverageAcademic journal articles
Geospatial coverageLatin America, Iberian Peninsula, South Africa
No. of records573,525[1]

SciELO was initially supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), along with the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME). SciELO provides a portal that integrates and provides access to all of the SciELO network sites. Users can search across all SciELO collections or limit by a single country collection, or browse by subject area, publisher, or journal title.

Database and projects

By October 2015 the database contained:

  • 1,249 journals
  • 39,651 issues (journal numbers)
  • 573,525 research articles
  • 13,005,080 citations (sum of the number of items in each article's reference list)

from different countries, universally accessible for free open access, in full-text format.[4] The SciELO Project's stated aims are to "envisage the development of a common methodology for the preparation, storage, dissemination and evaluation of scientific literature in electronic format." All journals are published by a special software suite which implements a scientific electronic virtual library accessed via several mechanisms, including a table of titles in alphabetic and subject list, subject and author indexes and a search engine.


Project's launch timeline:[5]

  • 1997: Beginning of the development of SciELO as a FAPESP supported project in partnership with BIREME.
  • 1998: SciELO goes live.
  • 1998: Chile's national research agency CONICYT asks to be considered as pilot project outside of Brazil. [6]
  • 1999-2000: Chile joined as regional collection, project supported by CONICYT.
  • 2002: the CNPq also began its support for SciELO.
  • 2005: Argentina joined as regional collection, project supported by CONICET
  • 2009: South Africa joined as regional collection, project supported by ASSAf.
  • 2012: the SciELO Books project is launched.
  • 2013: the SciELO Citation Index is integrated into Thomson Reuters' Web of Knowledge (WoS), covering about 650 journals total, 300 more than the 350 already in the WoS.[7]
  • 2017 SciELO announced that they were setting up a preprints server – SciELO Preprints.[8]

Open access

In 2013 the Latin American SciELO project completed 15 years of free publishing.[9] Open access has long emphasized access to scholarly materials. However, open access can also mean access to the means of producing visible and recognized journals. This issue is particularly important in developing and emergent countries,[10] where are other benefits of and challenges for publishing scientific journals in and by emerging countries.[11]


Articles are sent to SciELO by publishers in XML or HTML+SGML, using a variety of article DTDs. The SGML DTD was used until 2013, [12] when SciELO started to offer the Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) DTD standard for XML deposites.[13] Using to Markup XML a macro in a proprietary desktop application (Microsoft Office Word - DOCX).[14]

In the SciELO portals, received JATS-articles are converted via XSLT to HTML, and "SGML+HTML pack" articles use the HTML content (in general a handmade PDF-to-HTML conversion). This process may reveal errors that are reported back to the publisher for correction. Graphics are also converted to standard formats and sizes. The original and converted forms are archived. The converted form is moved into a relational database, along with associated files for graphics, multimedia, or other associated data. Many publishers also provide PDFs of their articles, and these are made available without change.

Bibliographic citations are (SGML or XML) parsed and automatically linked to the associated articles in SciELO and resources on publishers' Web sites. Unresolvable references, such as to journals or particular articles not yet available at one of these sources, are tracked in the database and automatically come "live" when the resources become available.

An in-house indexing system provides search capability.


In July 2015, Jeffrey Beall, an American librarian, posted an article on his blog referring to the two largest Latin American open access databases (SciELO and Redalyc) as "favelas",[15] which is a derogatory Portuguese term for a slum. Beall stated:

"Many North American scholars have never even heard of these meta-publishers or the journals they aggregate. Their content is largely hidden, the neighborhood remote and unfamiliar."

Among the responses is a motion passed by the Brazilian Forum of Public Health Journals Editors and the Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva (Abrasco, Brazilian Public Health Association).[16] The motion takes exception to Beall's characterization, draws attention to the underlying "ethnocentric prejudice", and corrects factual inaccuracies. As a counterpoint to Beall's "neocolonial point of view", the motion draws attention to work by Vessuri, Guedon and Cetto emphasizing the value of initiatives such as SciELO and Redalyc (also targeted by Beall) to the development of science in Latin America and globally: "In fact, Latin America is using the OA publishing model to a far greater extent than any other region in the world…. Also, because the sense of public mission remains strong among Latin American universities… these current initiatives demonstrate that the region contributes more and more to the global knowledge exchange while positioning research literature as a public good."[17]

See also


  1. "SciELO". Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  2. Packer, Abel (October 2000). "SciELO - a Model for Cooperative Electronic Publishing in Developing Countries". D-Lib Magazine. Vol. 6 no. 10. ISSN 1082-9873.
  3. " - Scientific Electronic Library Online". Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  4. SciELO: SciELO in numbers. Accessed 27 June 2014.
  5. The SciELO 15 Years Conference is a milestone in SciELO’s History. SciELO in Perspective. [viewed 15 February 2014]. Available from
  6. "Programa biblioteca cientifica electronica en linea, ScieELO-CHILE. Una nueva forma de acceder a la literatura cientifica nacional" (in Spanish).
  7. "Thomson Reuters Collaborates with SciELO to Showcase Emerging Research Centers within Web of Knowledge".
  8. "SciELO Preprints on the way | SciELO in Perspective". SciELO in Perspective. 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  9. Van Noorden, R. (2013). "Brazil fêtes open-access site". Nature. 502 (7472): 418. Bibcode:2013Natur.502..418V. doi:10.1038/502418a. PMID 24153270.
  10. Packer, Abel L. The SciELO Open Access: A Gold Way from the South. Canadian Journal of Higher Education Vol 39, No 3, 2009, pages 111126
  11. Meneghini, R. (2012). "Emerging journals". EMBO Reports. 13 (2): 106–108. doi:10.1038/embor.2011.252. PMC 3271339. PMID 22240975.
  12. Packer, Abel L.; Salgado, Eliana; Araujo, Javani; Aquino, Letícia; Almeida, Renata; Santos, Jesner; Lucena, Suely; Soares, Caroline M. (4 April 2014). "Why XML?". SciELO in Perspective.
  13. "Guia de uso de elementos e atributos XML para documentos que seguem a implementação SciELO Publishing Schema. — documentação SciELO Publishing Schema 1.7".
  14. "Markup Program — SciELO PC Programs 4.0.094 documentation".
  15. Jeffrey Beall (30 July 2015). "Is SciELO a Publication Favela?". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2016-11-08.
  16. "Motion to repudiate Mr. Jeffrey Beall’s classist attack on SciELO". SciELO in Perspective. 2 August 2015. Viewed 12 October 2015.
  17. Vessuri, H.; Guedon, J.-C.; Cetto, A. M. (2013). "Excellence or quality? Impact of the current competition regime on science and scientific publishing in Latin America and its implications for development" (PDF). Current Sociology. 62 (5): 647–665. doi:10.1177/0011392113512839.

Further reading

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