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

Open Access – the better access? Academic publishing and its politics

Open Access to scholarly literature seems to dominate current discussions in the academic publishing, research funding and science policy arenas. Several international initiatives have been recently started calling for a large-scale transformation of the majority of scholarly journals from subscription model to Open Access.

Such a massive transition would indeed affect not only business models and related cash flows but might be also expected to generate new inequalities in distributing resources among different regions or research fields.

Thus, the paper at hand aims to serve as an input statement for the upcoming discussion and to provide some background information on Open Access debates.

URL : http://eprints.rclis.org/29269/

Fifty shades of open

Open source. Open access. Open society. Open knowledge. Open government. Even open food. The word “open” has been applied to a wide variety of words to create new terms, some of which make sense, and some not so much.

This essay disambiguates the many meanings of the word “open” as it is used in a wide range of contexts.

URL : http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/6360/5460

La ruée vers l’or des publications ou comment passer des revues avec abonnements aux articles en accès libre

En matière de publication scientifique, la dernière décennie a été celle du passage des abonnements à des revues sur papier (avec éventuellement un accès électronique en supplément) aux abonnements électroniques (avec éventuellement un supplément pour le papier).

La décennie en cours est celle d’un bouleversement sans doute encore plus profond, remettant en cause la chaîne de financement de l’édition scientifique et donc, au-delà, l’équilibre des pouvoirs et des droits entre les éditeurs commerciaux, les bibliothèques, les laboratoires et in fine les chercheurs.

En effet, conformément aux objectifs « Horizon 2020 » fixés par la communauté européenne, les publications scientifiques devront bientôt être en accès libre et gratuit. Mais la question est de savoir comment y parvenir.

URL : http://smf4.emath.fr/Publications/Gazette/2016/147/smf_gazette_147_6-13.pdf

Coût des publications : propositions concrètes. L’exemple des Annales de l’institut Fourier

Créées en 1949, les Annales de l’institut Fourier (aif) sont une revue internationale en mathématiques fondamentales gérée par l’institut Fourier, à Grenoble. Forte d’un haut niveau d’exigence, elle reçoit chaque année environ 300 soumissions et publie entre 80 et 90 articles, dans six fascicules, ce qui représente un peu plus de 2700 pages.

Les soumissions des jeunes chercheurs, en particulier français, sont particulièrement appréciées. La revue est un des fleurons du laboratoire et constitue une vitrine scientifique internationale.

Elle compte ainsi parmi les membres de son comité de rédaction deux femmes (Maryam Mirzakhani et Christine Lescop) et deux lauréats de la médaille Fields (Maryam Mirzakhani et Stanislas Smirnov).

Comme nous allons le voir, la revue a toujours suivi le fonctionnement d’une revue académique « classique ». En 2015, les aif ont fait le choix du libre accès : comment cette évolution a-t-elle été possible ?

URL : http://smf4.emath.fr/Publications/Gazette/2016/147/smf_gazette_147_14-18.pdf