Transitioning from a Conventional to a ‘Mega’ Journal: A Bibliometric Case Study of the Journal Medicine

Authors : Simon Wakeling, Peter Willett, Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry , Stephen Pinfield, Valerie Spezi

Open-Access Mega-Journals (OAMJs) are a relatively new and increasingly important publishing phenomenon. The journal Medicine is in the unique position of having transitioned in 2014 from being a ‘traditional’ highly-selective journal to the OAMJ model.

This study compares the bibliometric profile of the journal Medicine before and after its transition to the OAMJ model. Three standard modes of bibliometric analysis are employed, based on data from Web of Science: journal output volume, author characteristics, and citation analysis.

The journal’s article output is seen to have grown hugely since its conversion to an OAMJ, a rise driven in large part by authors from China. Articles published since 2015 have fewer citations, and are cited by lower impact journals than articles published before the OAMJ transition.

The adoption of the OAMJ model has completely changed the bibliometric profile of the journal, raising questions about the impact of OAMJ peer-review practices. In many respects, the post-2014 version of Medicine is best viewed as a new journal rather than a continuation of the original title.

URL : Transitioning from a Conventional to a ‘Mega’ Journal: A Bibliometric Case Study of the Journal Medicine


Open-Access Mega-Journals: A Bibliometric Profile

Authors : Simon Wakeling, Peter Willett, Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry, Stephen Pinfield, Valérie Spezi

In this paper we present the first comprehensive bibliometric analysis of eleven open-access mega-journals (OAMJs).

OAMJs are a relatively recent phenomenon, and have been characterised as having four key characteristics: large size; broad disciplinary scope; a Gold-OA business model; and a peer-review policy that seeks to determine only the scientific soundness of the research rather than evaluate the novelty or significance of the work. Our investigation focuses on four key modes of analysis: journal outputs (the number of articles published and changes in output over time); OAMJ author characteristics (nationalities and institutional affiliations); subject areas (the disciplinary scope of OAMJs, and variations in sub-disciplinary output); and citation profiles (the citation distributions of each OAMJ, and the impact of citing journals).

We found that while the total output of the eleven mega-journals grew by 14.9% between 2014 and 2015, this growth is largely attributable to the increased output of Scientific Reports and Medicine.

We also found substantial variation in the geographical distribution of authors. Several journals have a relatively high proportion of Chinese authors, and we suggest this may be linked to these journals’ high Journal Impact Factors (JIFs).

The mega-journals were also found to vary in subject scope, with several journals publishing disproportionately high numbers of articles in certain sub-disciplines.

Our citation analsysis offers support for Björk & Catani’s suggestion that OAMJs’s citation distributions can be similar to those of traditional journals, while noting considerable variation in citation rates across the eleven titles.

We conclude that while the OAMJ term is useful as a means of grouping journals which share a set of key characteristics, there is no such thing as a “typical” mega-journal, and we suggest several areas for additional research that might help us better understand the current and future role of OAMJs in scholarly communication.

URL : Open-Access Mega-Journals: A Bibliometric Profile