Friday, May 24, 2013

Open access journals: is this the future? Or not?

In terms of high impact journals, nephrology is on the lower end of the impact factor scale compared to our counterparts in hematology/oncology and cardiology.  An emerging option for publishing scientific data is open access journals.  This form of information sharing is beginning to penetrate the publishing/academic world.  While open access allows for all to view the article without paying for fees to the journal- are they offering quality articles? What do nephrologists think about open access journals?

First and foremost, why would an author want their work published in an open access journal?

Many reasons exist:-
 1. Rapid turn-around and availability to the world to view.
 2. The manuscript was rejected by traditional journals.
 3. E xperiment a different form of publishing. 

Are “non” PubMed ‘able journals in nephrology worthy for consideration of academic promotion? For now, it is unclear what “promotion” committees thinks of manuscripts that appears in these journals. 
Let’s take a few of these journals for example:   

Plos One:. Interestingly Plos One has a decent impact factor (4.0 in 2011) and the turnaround time appears to be quick (told to give review back in 10 days). The peer review is still a standard process (i.e. blinding reviews) like any other journal.  Great outlet, popular, PubMed’able – but comes with a cost for publishing in it.  Nephrology papers have been published in these journals. Check out this interesting commentary by an author. Here is Wikipedia’s view on Plos One

F1000 research: This is the newer journal. The concept is interesting. Peer review is open (meaning everyone including the author knows who the reviewer is) and happens after your manuscript is online.  The peer review is open for all to view and comment as well.  Great outlet, novel concept, they state it is PubMed’able (but I could not do it yet)- hopefully it’s coming soon.  How fair can a peer review be if this is open for all to review?  I think it’s very hard when a review is not anonymous to be honest in the review. But let’s see what scientists will think of this journal.  Another downside- cost for publishing in it. Many have voiced their concerns regarding this journal. Here is another one.
The table below I created reviews some common Open access novel journals in nephrology. Be your own judge
Journal Name and Link
Type of Articles
Cost involved?
Pubmed indexed( Y/N)
Original investigations, basic and clinical, case reports, review articles
US $1950 after acceptance
Original research, review articles
US $1000  after acceptance
Original( basic and clinical), review, case reports
Cost but no amount disclosed on website
Case reports, reviews, images
Not disclosed on website
Reviews, Original( basic and clinical), case reports
Yes, varied from 900-1300 based on type of article
None I found on pubmed but on their website it says NIH funded studies will be pub med indexed
Yes, 500 Euro
Original articles( clinical), reviews, case reports
Yes, US $500
Reviews, original articles( clinical)
Not disclosed on website
Found one article in 2009 indexed in pubmed, rest not
Case reports, original articles( clinical), letters
Not disclosed upfront on website
Case reports, reviews, original articles( clinical)
US $300

A few obvious advantages of open access journals include the free access to scientific papers regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library, lower costs for research in academia and industry, in addition to improved access for the general public and higher citation rates for the author. Here is a view by someone on top nephrology journals.

The major concern is damage to the peer review process. Peer review is extremely important for good science. Eventually a bad paper can be published somewhere, but sometimes good papers can get published in low impact journals as well.  Publishing quality is important and unclear to me how the open access is preserving that.  PLoS and BioMed Centeral journals are regarded well among the open journals.  Hoax papers have been published in some open access journals. A list of questionable open access journals that promotions committee needs to be worried about have been listed at this website. Wonder if there is one for nephrology. We should likely come up with a list.

Recently, the NY times had done an interesting article on exploitation of scientists for use of such journals that charge significant amount for publishing. At least, the good quality opens mention this up front. Many of the low quality ones later distinguish themselves. Even Nature had a dark side talk on this.
So, you decide what you would do? Would love to hear nephrology community thoughts on this.

1 comment:

  1. The Open Urology &Nephrology Journal does have the publication fee disclosed on its website

    PUBLICATION FEES: The publication fee details for each article published in the journal are given below:

    Letters/ Case report/Brief Communication: The publication fee for each published Letter/Case report/Brief Communication article submitted is US $600.

    Learning From Images: The publication fee for each published Learning From Images article submitted is US $300.

    Research Articles: The publication fee for each published Research article is US $800.

    Mini-Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Mini Review article is US $600.

    Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Review article is US $900.

    Book Review: The open access fee for a published book review is US $450.


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