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19 March 2014  |  Posted in Open Access, Publication  |  Comment on this post »

Open access publishing is the dream of every researcher: to publish papers that are instantly accessible to everyone and for free. There are now two versions of this dream.

The Gold Standard
In the “gold” model of open access the author pays the journal a fee for the privilege of open access. This fee may be as little as $150 or as steep as $3000. The high end is beyond the budget of many researchers or institutions for routine publishing.

Green is Growing
The “green” model allows an author to post a version of a paper in a repository accessible from the internet. This version is not the final version which the journal publishes; it may be a preprint of the submitted manuscript before or after review. Increasingly research institutions are demanding publishers grant them the right to self-archive in this way and most publishers have agreed. But how useful are these repositories for the researcher? How easily can they be searched for useful information? How high is the quality of the documents posted?

A Trial: the Harvard Repository
To size up the value of an academic repository I went on the internet to the Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH), the university’s “green” open access archive. Searching the archive for “chemistry” pulled up 1991 articles. One was a 2013 dissertation on the subject of transition metal catalyzed olefin aziridination. Google Scholar found the dissertation when I searched for the “aziridination.” The same search also listed two papers by the graduate student, one published in 2011, the other in 2014. But neither of these papers appeared in the DASH database. Versions of many published papers did appear in the Harvard repository, however. I pulled up the pdf file of one that had been published in an ACS journal in 2012. The figures in the DASH file were poorly reproduced, almost unreadable. Another paper had generally sharp figures, although some of the fine print was hard to read. A third paper, the manuscript of an ACS submission, had clear journal quality figures.
If my experience searching DASH is any indication, the quality of green archives depends entirely on the authors who stock them. Some of the material is excellent, some is awful. The archives are not a complete record of publications.

Maximizing the Value of Green
Self-archiving is a great idea in theory but it will be of little value if authors don’t take advantage of it. Researchers should self-archive routinely. In addition, before submitting to a repository, authors should check their file for readability. Posting a hard to read file is almost as bad as not posting it.

There is one downside to green open access. A non-reviewed manuscript may contain errors and weaknesses not apparent to the author but spotted by reviewers. Unfortunately, most publishers mandate an embargo period of a year or more before the final corrected manuscript can be posted in a repository. So the author should wait until after the paper is reviewed before posting the first manuscript. If the reviewers suggest only minor changes—post. Otherwise, wait until the embargo period has expired and then post the corrected manuscript.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

These are hard times for the print media. Newspapers and magazine subscriptions are declining and a number of publications have folded or cut back on their offerings. No wonder. Why pay money to get a newspaper delivered to your door step when you can read the same news on your laptop, and for free?
Will the same trend of online publication sweep up scientific publications? Although the major journals are making gestures at an online presence, they still rely primarily on paper and ink and restrict print or online articles to those who will pay to read them. However, “open access” online publications are challenging traditional journals and there are titles that cover just about every discipline. For example, Libertas Academica (Aukland, New Zealand) publishes 87 peer reviewed journals, ranging from Air, Soil and Water Research to Virology: Research and Treatment. Many of their journals are “insightful,” for example, Analytical Chemistry Insights, Autism Insights, Cell Biology Insights, Organic Chemistry Insights, and some twenty-odd Clinical Medicine Insights in various disciplines. No doubt the insight tag is applied to distinguish their journals from similar names that are better known.

Almost all of these Libertas Academica journals are open access—anyone can open and read an article by clicking on a pdf link on the website with no charge. This is great for the reader but not so great for the author. The publisher must make a profit somehow, so the authors pay for publication. These “article processing fees” average about $1500 but vary from $950–$1848, a lot less than the $3000 that Elsevier charges to make its articles open access, but not trivial.

Other online open access journals charge much lower fees. The European Journal of Chemistry has fees that total about $200. If an author wants to publish in an online, open access journal, this can be done at an affordable price and will theoretically reach a larger audience than more prestigious journals that restrict access. The question remains, what sort of reputation do online journals have? At the moment I don’t think any online-only journals rival traditional journals in terms of prestige. But many of them are respectable. If you are considering publishing in one of these journals, scan through the table of contents and see who is publishing in it. Then read a few articles and see what sort of quality they are.

Many online journals are only a few years old and haven’t had time to establish their reputations. But I predict they are a wave of the future. Remember that twenty-five years ago the entire internet was a joke, a refuge for “the eccentric, the untalented, and the shrill.” No more.

Some links to online open access journal information

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

22 September 2010  |  Posted in Choice of journal, Impact of article  |  1 Comment »

The Open-Access approach is on the whole complementary to traditional publishing. It utilizes both new technological developments and their wide proliferation to ease the publication process for authors, and the availability of research material to society in general. The realization of open access need not be at odds with traditional publishers, whose business should not be affected, as long as they keep pace with changing trends. Quite a few traditional publishers have begun to imbibe aspects of the open-access culture, usually to their benefit. For example, the Nature Publishing Group has started Nature Precedings, a service designed to provide an outlet for sharing research results prior to formal publication and claiming priority on specific results.

The increasing relevance of open-access journals is related to the steeply rising cost of traditional journals, developments in technology and the desire for easier access and a wider audience. With the emergence of open access, it is now possible to not only have peer-reviewed research articles (Open-Access Journals) but also data, results or articles as they are obtained, prior to peer review (Open-Access Repositories or Archives). The time lag between research and its dissemination has thus been shortened. As a consequence, traditional publishers have also had to prune their publication costs and find ways to adhere to shorter timelines. This has contributed to an increase in their overall effectiveness. Open-access journals have imbibed a lot from the established policies and practices of traditional publishers.

Thus, both traditional and open-access publishers can develop in parallel, and there need not be conflicts related to subject areas and clientele. For example, the development of the arXiv repository, initially targeted at physicists, has not had a negative effect on the subscriptions of two major physics publishers, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing. Both open access and traditional publishers will need to evolve with changing times and technologies to retain, develop and improve their relevance in publishing research work.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

20 September 2010  |  Posted in Choice of journal, Publication, Submission  |  1 Comment »

Open-access repositories or archives are intended for researchers to contribute the results of their research. This builds up an information and knowledge bank that is easily, and in most instances, freely accessible to everybody.

Repositories or archives are either organized by subject area or certain institutions maintain archives which cut across different disciplines. For instance, there are 78 open-access repositories in Japan according to OpenDOAR, most of which are institutional ones, with only a few classified according to subject area. A typical example of an institutional archive is the Department of Energy (USA) information bridge, which provides free public access to over 200,000 full-text documents. One of the oldest repositories arranged according to discipline is arXiv, which started off as a physics archive but now extends to mathematics, computer science and other disciplines. It hosts over 600,000 e-prints.

Archives may contain raw or processed data in any format, preprints or post-prints, theses or dissertations, and in general any digital file, including software. No peer review is performed for the contents of the repository but authors have the option of contributing post-prints of peer-reviewed articles, provided they obtain the permission of the publisher. The copyright is generally retained by the author except in the case of post-prints (reprints), wherein the original publisher may already hold the copyright.

Open access archives are most useful when they comply with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) protocol to harvest metadata. Such archives are interoperable leading to greatly increased ease of access. Every research institution or university should strive to build and maintain its OAI-compliant repository.

Listings of open-access repositories can be found at the Directory of Open Access Repositories: OpenDOAR and the Registry of Open Access Repositories: ROAR. Peter Suber maintains a list of the listings of OAI-compliant archives which can be found at

Open-access archives can be a rich source of information, and can be indispensable in situations where the material is not available elsewhere. The proliferation of open access archives would benefit both the research community and the public who usually fund the research indirectly.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

15 September 2010  |  Posted in Choice of journal, Journal requirements  |  Comment on this post »

The first consideration should be to look at the pros and cons of open-access publishing unique to your situation. If you decide to publish in an open-access journal, you should be aware of the following:

You can locate the appropriate journal by consulting your peers or by browsing through the Directory of Open Access Journals, or similar listings.

Open Access does not imply that there are no publication charges for the author, though this is true in some of the cases. In some instances, the publication charges can be significantly more than traditional journals. Even when journals charge for publishing, you could request the charges to be waived citing special circumstances.

Once the journal is chosen, prepare the article in the format suitable for the journal. The fact that you are able to upload your article directly and have it visible to the world instantly (“gold” open-access journals) should motivate you to self-review the article in an even more stringent manner.

Keep in mind that peer review will be performed at some point in the future.

There are new models of open-access journals like overlay journals which accept preprints from archives, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary journals which venture into areas at the interface of more than one subject area, and different level journals which are composed of different tiers within a topic.

Usually, you will be able to retain copyright on your article.

Everyone may not have access to your article. There may be barriers resulting from connectivity, language and filtering.

An example of popular open-access journals published in the fields of medical research and biology is BioMedCentral. Another example is J-STAGE: Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic, an online collection of over 600 journals.

It should be emphasized that open-access journals are distinct from open-access repositories or archives. This will be discussed in detail in the next post.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

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