Quality Assessment of Studies Published in Open Access and Subscription Journals: Results of a Systematic Evaluation

Authors : Sonja Milovanovic, Jovana Stojanovic, Ljupcho Efremov, Rosarita Amore, Stefania Boccia


Along with the proliferation of Open Access (OA) publishing, the interest for comparing the scientific quality of studies published in OA journals versus subscription journals has also increased.

With our study we aimed to compare the methodological quality and the quality of reporting of primary epidemiological studies and systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in OA and non-OA journals.


In order to identify the studies to appraise, we listed all OA and non-OA journals which published in 2013 at least one primary epidemiologic study (case-control or cohort study design), and at least one systematic review or meta-analysis in the field of oncology.

For the appraisal, we picked up the first studies published in 2013 with case-control or cohort study design from OA journals (Group A; n = 12), and in the same time period from non-OA journals (Group B; n = 26); the first systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in 2013 from OA journals (Group C; n = 15), and in the same time period from non-OA journals (Group D; n = 32).

We evaluated the methodological quality of studies by assessing the compliance of case-control and cohort studies to Newcastle and Ottawa Scale (NOS) scale, and the compliance of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) scale.

The quality of reporting was assessed considering the adherence of case-control and cohort studies to STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist, and the adherence of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) checklist.


Among case-control and cohort studies published in OA and non-OA journals, we did not observe significant differences in the median value of NOS score (Group A: 7 (IQR 7–8) versus Group B: 8 (7–9); p = 0.5) and in the adherence to STROBE checklist (Group A, 75% versus Group B, 80%; p = 0.1).

The results did not change after adjustment for impact factor. The compliance with AMSTAR and adherence to PRISMA checklist were comparable between systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in OA and non-OA journals (Group C, 46.0% versus Group D, 55.0%; p = 0.06), (Group C, 72.0% versus Group D, 76.0%; p = 0.1), respectively).


The epidemiological studies published in OA journals in the field of oncology approach the same methodological quality and quality of reporting as studies published in non-OA journal.

URL : Quality Assessment of Studies Published in Open Access and Subscription Journals: Results of a Systematic Evaluation

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154217

A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals

Authors : Bo-Christer Björk, Cenyu Shen, Mikael Laakso

Open Access (OA) is nowadays increasingly being used as a business model for the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals, both by specialized OA publishing companies and major, predominantly subscription-based publishers.

However, in the early days of the web OA journals were mainly founded by independent academics, who were dissatisfied with the predominant print and subscription paradigm and wanted to test the opportunities offered by the new medium.

There is still an on-going debate about how OA journals should be operated, and the volunteer model used by many such ‘indie’ journals has been proposed as a viable alternative to the model adopted by big professional publishers where publishing activities are funded by authors paying expensive article processing charges (APCs).

Our longitudinal quantitative study of 250 ‘indie’ OA journals founded prior to 2002, showed that 51% of these journals were still in operation in 2014 and that the median number of articles published per year had risen from 11 to 18 among the survivors.

Of these surviving journals, only 8% had started collecting APCs. A more detailed qualitative case study of five such journals provided insights into how such journals have tried to ensure the continuity and longevity of operations.

URL : A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1990

Measuring, Rating, Supporting, and Strengthening Open Access Scholarly Publishing in Brazil

This study assesses the extent and nature of open access scholarly publishing in Brazil, one of the world’s leaders in providing universal access to its research and scholarship. It utilizes Brazil’s Qualis journal evaluation system, along with other relevant data bases to address the association between scholarly quality and open access in the Brazilian context.

Through cross tabulation among these various data sets, it is possible to arrive at a reasonably accurate picture of journals, systems, ratings, and disciplines.

The study establishes reliable measures and counts of Brazilian scholarly publications, the proportion and types of open access, and journals ratings and by disciplinary field. It finds that the better the Brazilian journal, the more likely it is to be open access.

It also finds that Qualis ranks Brazilian journals lower overall than the international journals in which Brazilian authors publish, most notably in the field of the biological sciences.

The study concludes with a consideration of the policy implications for building on the country’s global leadership in open access to strengthen the quality of its global contribution to knowledge.

URL : Measuring, Rating, Supporting, and Strengthening Open Access Scholarly Publishing in Brazil

Alternative location : http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/2391

The OpenAIRE2020 FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot: Implementing a European-wide funding initiative for Open Access publishing costs

In the first half of 2015 the European Commission launched a new funding initiative to cover the Open Access publishing costs of publications arising from finished Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) projects.

This article addresses the opportunities and challenges faced by this FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot and discusses early project findings six months into this two-year initiative.

This new and wide-scoped funding initiative arrives at a timely moment when a number of Gold Open Access funds are already in place at institutions in different European countries, which offers opportunities for promoting a gradual technical alignment of Article Processing Charges (APC) management practices.

At the same time, there are rather large differences across Europe in the attitudes and researcher culture towards this emerging Gold Open Access business model which will need to be addressed within a swiftly evolving publishing landscape.

URL : The OpenAIRE2020 FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot

Alternative location : http://content.iospress.com/articles/information-services-and-use/isu786

Open Access Article Processing Charges (OA APC) Longitudinal Study 2015 Preliminary Dataset

This article documents Open access article processing charges (OA APC) longitudinal study 2015 preliminary dataset available for download from the OA APC dataverse.

This dataset was gathered as part of Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (SKC), a research program funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The overall goal of SKC is to advance our collective knowledge about how to transition scholarly publishing from a system dependent on subscriptions and purchase to one that is fully open access.

The OA APC preliminary data 2015 Version 12 dataset was developed as one of the lines of research of SKC, a longitudinal study of the minority (about a third) of the fully open access journals that use this business model.

The original idea was to gather data during an annual two-week census period. The volume of data and growth in this area makes this an impractical goal. For this reason, we are posting this preliminary dataset in case it might be helpful to others working in this area.

Future data gathering and analyses will be conducted on an ongoing basis. We encourage others to share their data as well. In order to merge datasets, note that the two most critical elements for matching data and merging datasets are the journal title and ISSN.

URL : Open Access Article Processing Charges (OA APC) Longitudinal Study 2015 Preliminary Dataset

Alternative location : http://eprints.rclis.org/29212/

Open Access Temptations: Buyer Beware

Backlash against « megapublishers” which began in mathematics a decade ago has led to an exponential growth in open access journals. Their increasing numbers and popularity notwithstanding, there is evidence that not all open access journals are legitimate.

The nature of the « gold open access » business model and increasing prevalence of « publish or perish » culture in academia has given rise to a dark underbelly in the world of scientific publishing which feeds off academics’ professional needs.

Many such « predatory publishers » and journals not only seem to originate out of India but also seem to have been patronized by academics in the country. This article is a cautionary note to early-career academics and administrators in India to be wary of this « wild west » of the internet and exercise due discretion when considering/ evaluating open-access journals for scholarly contributions.

URL : http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/assets/snippets/workingpaperpdf/10046630992016-03-49.pdf

Current state of open access to journal publications from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine


To identify the share of open access (OA) papers in the total number of journal publications authored by the members of the University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM) in 2014.


Bibliographic data on 543 UZSM papers published in 2014 were collected using PubMed advanced search strategies and manual data collection methods. The items that had « free full text » icons were considered as gold OA papers.

Their OA availability was checked using the provided link to full-text. The rest of the UZSM papers were analyzed for potential green OA through self-archiving in institutional repository. Papers published by Croatian journals were particularly analyzed.


Full texts of approximately 65% of all UZSM papers were freely available. Most of them were published in gold OA journals (55% of all UZSM papers or 85% of all UZSM OA papers). In the UZSM repository, there were additional 52 freely available authors’ manuscripts from subscription-based journals (10% of all UZSM papers or 15% of all UZSM OA papers).


The overall proportion of OA in our study is higher than in similar studies, but only half of gold OA papers are accessible via PubMed directly. The results of our study indicate that increased quality of metadata and linking of the bibliographic records to full texts could assure better visibility. Moreover, only a quarter of papers from subscription-based journals that allow self-archiving are deposited in the UZSM repository.

We believe that UZSM should consider mandating all faculty members to deposit their publications in UZSM OA repository to increase visibility and improve access to its scientific output.

URL : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26935617