Status and trends in the global growth of Koedoe between 1958 and 2016
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The process of scientific publishing is highly competitive and the prestige associated with journals is a key consideration of where authors choose to publish their research. Journals need to provide relevant, high-quality publications that add to the body of literature to provide updated information upon which evidence-based management can be implemented. In addition, scientists want their work to be accessible and with the evolution of web-based publishing, articles that were difficult to access in the past can now be made immediately available worldwide. To remain relevant and expand globally beyond its previous reach, Koedoe launched its online platform in 2008. Since then it has shown strong annual growth rates, which is illustrated by the number of articles being downloaded more than 265 000 times in 2016 alone. In addition, by 2016, the total number of all Koedoe articles downloaded exceeded 1.3 million. The launch of Koedoe in 1958 was aimed at providing a platform to capture important baseline information and research specifically on protected areas and national parks in South Africa. The focus has expanded to include science across the African continent, addressing important management questions both in the biophysical sciences and more recently socio-ecological and economic studies. To date, about 1250 articles have been published in Koedoe. Publishing Koedoe as a fully open access online journal also brought with it additional opportunities. For example, all articles from the first issue of Koedoe in 1958 were scanned and included in the Koedoe website, making over 50 years’ worth of scientific knowledge easily available. The importance of making past research available can be illustrated by the example of the focus around savanna fire ecology, a key research theme in the Kruger National Park. The third article published in Koedoe was a report on fire research in the Kruger National Park (Inleidende verslag oor veldbrandnavorsing in die Nasionale Krugerwildtuin; Van der Schijff 1958). This information would not have been easily accessible and knowledge may have been lost; however, since 2008 this article has been viewed about 4456 times on the website. The increasing visibility and use of articles positioned Koedoe to be able to apply for accreditation with international bodies that use various metrics to benchmark journals. One of the frequently used benchmarks is Clavariate Analytics Journal Citation Reports (formerly Thomson-Reuters Web of Science). Koedoe received its first impact factor in 2013 with 1.48, and has since fluctuated between 1.48 and 0.52. This article provides (1) a brief overview and literature analysis of articles published in Koedoe since 1958 and (2) an update on the status and trends of readers interacting with the Koedoe website and articles being downloaded. Most of the results are only for data up to 2016 to include a complete year; however, in some cases, information from 2017 is also given.