Mega-journals are a new kind of scholarly journal made possible by electronic publishing. They are open access (OA) and funded by charges, which authors pay for the publishing services. What distinguishes mega-journals from other OA journals is, in particular, a peer review focusing only on scientific trustworthiness.
The journals can easily publish thousands of articles per year and there is no need to filter articles due to restricted slots in the publishing schedule. This study updates some earlier longitudinal studies of the evolution of mega-journals and their publication volumes.
After very rapid growth in 2010–2013, the increase in overall article volumes has slowed down. Mega-journals are also increasingly dependent for sustained growth on Chinese authors, who now contribute 25% of all articles in such journals.
There has also been an internal shift in market shares. PLOS ONE, which totally dominated mega-journal publishing in the early years, currently publishes around one-third of all articles. Scientific Reports has grown rapidly since 2014 and is now the biggest journal.
Authors : Misha Teplitskiy, Daniel Acuna, Aida Elamrani-Raoult, Konrad Kording, James Evans
Personal connections between creators and evaluators of scientific works are ubiquitous, and the possibility of bias ever-present. Although connections have been shown to bias prospective judgments of (uncertain) future performance, it is unknown whether such biases occur in the much more concrete task of assessing the scientific validity of already completed work, and if so, why.
This study presents evidence that personal connections between authors and reviewers of neuroscience manuscripts are associated with biased judgments and explores the mechanisms driving the effect.
Using reviews from 7,981 neuroscience manuscripts submitted to the journal PLOS ONE, which instructs reviewers to evaluate manuscripts only on scientific validity, we find that reviewers favored authors close in the co-authorship network by ~0.11 points on a 1.0 – 4.0 scale for each step of proximity.
PLOS ONE’s validity-focused review and the substantial amount of favoritism shown by distant vs. very distant reviewers, both of whom should have little to gain from nepotism, point to the central role of substantive disagreements between scientists in different « schools of thought. »
The results suggest that removing bias from peer review cannot be accomplished simply by recusing the closely-connected reviewers, and highlight the value of recruiting reviewers embedded in diverse professional networks.
Authors : Simon Wakeling ,Valérie Spezi, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Stephen Pinfield, Peter Willett
This paper is the second of two Learned Publishing articles in which we report the results of a series of interviews, with senior publishers and editors exploring open access megajournals (OAMJs).
Megajournals (of which PLoS One is the best known example) represent a relatively new approach to scholarly communication and can be characterized as large, broad-scope, open access journals, which take an innovative approach to peer review, basing acceptance decisions solely on the technical or scientific soundness of the article. B
ased on interviews with 31 publishers and editors, this paper reports the perceived cultural, operational, and technical challenges associated with launching, growing, and maintaining a megajournal.
We find that overcoming these challenges while delivering the societal benefits associated with OAMJs is seen to require significant investment in people and systems, as well as an ongoing commitment to the model.
Authors : Simon Wakeling ,Valérie Spezi , Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Stephen Pinfield, Peter Willett
This paper is the first of two Learned Publishing articles in which we report the results of a series of interviews with senior publishers and editors exploring open access megajournals (OAMJs).
Megajournals (of which PLoS One is the best known example) represent a relatively new approach to scholarly communication and can be characterized as large, broad-scope, open access journals that take an innovative approach to peer review, basing acceptance decisions solely on the technical or scientific soundness of the article.
This model is often said to support the broader goals of the open science movement. Based on in-depth interviews with 31 publishers and editors representing 16 different organizations (10 of which publish a megajournal), this paper reports how the term ‘megajournal’ is understood and publishers’ rationale and motivations for launching (or not launching) an OAMJ.
We find that while there is general agreement on the common characteristics of megajournals, there is not yet a consensus on their relative importance. We also find seven motivating factors that were said to drive the launch of an OAMJ and link each of these factors to potential societal and business benefits.
These results suggest that the often polarized debate surrounding OAMJs is a consequence of the extent to which observers perceive publishers to be motivated by these societal or business benefits.
We analyzed the longitudinal activity of nearly 7,000 editors at the mega-journal PLOS ONE over the 10-year period 2006-2015. Using the article-editor associations, we develop editor-specific measures of power, activity, article acceptance time, citation impact, and editorial renumeration (an analogue to self-citation).
We observe remarkably high levels of power inequality among the PLOS ONE editors, with the top-10 editors responsible for 3,366 articles — corresponding to 2.4% of the 141,986 articles we analyzed. Such high inequality levels suggest the presence of unintended incentives, which may reinforce unethical behavior in the form of decision-level biases at the editorial level.
Our results indicate that editors may become apathetic in judging the quality of articles and susceptible to modes of power-driven misconduct. We used the longitudinal dimension of editor activity to develop two panel regression models which test and verify the presence of editor-level bias.
In the first model we analyzed the citation impact of articles, and in the second model we modeled the decision time between an article being submitted and ultimately accepted by the editor.
We focused on two variables that represent social factors that capture potential conflicts-of-interest: (i) we accounted for the social ties between editors and authors by developing a measure of repeat authorship among an editor’s article set, and (ii) we accounted for the rate of citations directed towards the editor’s own publications in the reference list of each article he/she oversaw.
Our results indicate that these two factors play a significant role in the editorial decision process. Moreover, these two effects appear to increase with editor age, which is consistent with behavioral studies concerning the evolution of misbehavior and response to temptation in power-driven environments.
À partir de l’exemple d’un article scientifique publié dans la revue américaine en ligne PLoS ONE, on montre que la circulation d’une information scientifique sur le Net peut rapidement et massivement déborder des cadres habituels de la diffusion de la culture scientifique (médias, passeurs individuels et collectifs labellisés…). Cette recherche interroge ce que le « devenir trivial » d’une information scientifique dit des relations connaissances scientifiques/vulgarisation, science légitime/science amateur et plus généralement sciences/société.
Car si la circulation d’un « être culturel » hors de son champ de pertinence trouve un terreau fécond au sein même de la sphère scientifique, ses frontières avec les sphères profanes sont également autant des coupures que des coutures.
« A “mega-journal” is a new type of scientific journal that publishes freely accessible articles, which have been peer reviewed for scientific trustworthiness, but leaves it to the readers to decide which articles are of interest and importance to them. In the wake of the phenomenal success of PLOS ONE, several other publishers have recently started mega-journals. This article presents the evolution of mega-journals since 2010 in terms of article publication rates. The fastest growth seems to have ebbed out at around 35,000 annual articles for the 14 journals combined. Acceptance rates are in the range of 50–70%, and speed of publication is around 3–5 months. Common features in mega-journals are alternative impact metrics, easy reusability of figures and data, post-publication discussions and portable reviews from other journals. »