Prestigious Science Journals Struggle to Reach Even Average Reliability

Author : Björn Brembs

In which journal a scientist publishes is considered one of the most crucial factors determining their career. The underlying common assumption is that only the best scientists manage to publish in a highly selective tier of the most prestigious journals.

However, data from several lines of evidence suggest that the methodological quality of scientific experiments does not increase with increasing rank of the journal. On the contrary, an accumulating body of evidence suggests the inverse: methodological quality and, consequently, reliability of published research works in several fields may be decreasing with increasing journal rank.

The data supporting these conclusions circumvent confounding factors such as increased readership and scrutiny for these journals, focusing instead on quantifiable indicators of methodological soundness in the published literature, relying on, in part, semi-automated data extraction from often thousands of publications at a time.

With the accumulating evidence over the last decade grew the realization that the very existence of scholarly journals, due to their inherent hierarchy, constitutes one of the major threats to publicly funded science: hiring, promoting and funding scientists who publish unreliable science eventually erodes public trust in science.

URL : Prestigious Science Journals Struggle to Reach Even Average Reliability


Open scientific journals: Emerging practices and approaches

Authors : Andre Luiz Appel, Sarita Albagli, Maria Lucia Maciel

This study aims to show how the concept of openness has been manifested and amplified in the universe of open access scholarly journals, pointing out emerging characteristics and practices linked to processes of submission, evaluation, revision, editing, publishing, editing, distribution, access and use of texts for publication.

We proceeded to an overview and discussion of the pertinent literature and the identification and analysis of open access journals which have addressed the issue, and to the identification and analysis of cases of open access journals which have been adopting innovative practices, based on information on editorial policies available on their websites.

Among the results, we have pointed out aspects of the publications examined, such as the types of licenses used, policies regarding access to research data, publishing formats, charges and alternative metrics of evaluation.

URL : Open scientific journals: Emerging practices and approaches

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L’archivage des revues scientifiques électroniques pour les bibliothèques universitaires en France

Auteur/Author : Lore Metrat

Les résultats de la recherche, quel que soit le domaine d’étude, sont de plus en plus publiés au format numérique. Les grands éditeurs proposent aux bibliothèques des abonnements à des bouquets de revues indispensables aux chercheurs, mais de plus en plus chers.

Ainsi, les bibliothèques universitaires payent des prix élevés sans aucune garantie de conservation. En effet, le paiement des bouquets de revues consiste à obtenir un droit d’accès, ne tenant pas compte de l’archivage de celles-ci.

Si une revue venait à disparaître, l’ensemble de ce qui avait été acheté disparaitrait aussi. Partant de ce constat, l’enjeu réside dans la nécessité d’assurer la conservation des revues de façon pérenne, tout en garantissant leur lisibilité et leur intelligibilité à long terme.

URL : L’archivage des revues scientifiques électroniques pour les bibliothèques universitaires en France

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What Does the Future Hold for Scientific Journals? Visual Abstracts and Other Tools for Communicating Research

Authors : Vahagn C. Nikolian, Andrew M. Ibrahim

Journals fill several important roles within academic medicine, including building knowledge, validating quality of methods, and communicating research. This section provides an overview of these roles and highlights innovative approaches journals have taken to enhance dissemination of research.

As journals move away from print formats and embrace web-based content, design-centered thinking will allow for engagement of a larger audience. Examples of recent efforts in this realm are provided, as well as simplified strategies for developing visual abstracts to improve dissemination via social media.

Finally, we hone in on principles of learning and education which have driven these advances in multimedia-based communication in scientific research.


Openness of Spanish scholarly journals as measured by access and rights

Authors : Remedios Melero, Mikael Laakso, Miguel Navas-Fernández

Metrics regarding Open Access (OA) availability for readers and the enablers of redistribution of content published in scholarly journals, i.e. content licenses, copyright ownership, and publisher-stipulated self-archiving permissions are still scarce.

This study implements the four core variables (reader rights, reuse rights, copyrights, author posting rights) of the recently published Open Access Spectrum (OAS) to measure the level of openness in all 1728 Spanish scholarly journals listed in the Spanish national DULCINEA database at the end of 2015.

In order to conduct the analysis additional data has been aggregated from other bibliographic databases and through manual data collection (such data includes the journal research area, type of publisher, type of access, self-archiving and reuse policy, and potential type of Creative Commons (CC) licence used).

79% of journals allowed self-archiving in some form, 13.5% did not specify any copyright terms and 37% used CC licenses. From the total journals (1728), 1285 (74.5%) received the maximum score of 20 in reader rights. For 72% of journals, authors retain or publishers grant broad rights which include author reuse and authorisation rights (for others to re-use).

The OAS-compliant results of this study enable comparative studies to be conducted on other large populations of journals.


Relationships between Consumption, Publication and Impact in French Universities in a value perspective: A Bibliometric Analysis

Authors : Chérifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri, Pascal Bador, Thierry Lafouge, Hélène Prost

The study aims to investigate the relationships between consumption of e-journals distributed by Elsevier ScienceDirect platform, publication (articles) and impact (citations) in a sample of 13 French universities, from 2003 to 2009.

It adopts a value perspective as it questions whether or not publication activity and impact are some kind of return led by consumption. A bibliometric approach was used to explore the relations between these three variables.

The analysis developed indicators inspired by the mathematical h-Index technique. Results show that the relation between consumption, publication and citations depends on the discipline’s profile, the intensity of research and the size of each institution.

Moreover, although relations have been observed between the three variables, it is not possible to determine which variable comes first to explain the phenomena. The study concludes by showing strong correlations, which nevertheless do not lead to clear causal relations.

The article provide practical implication for academic library managers who want to show the added value of their electronic e-journals collections can replicate the study approach. Also for policy makers who want to take into account e-journals usage as an informative tool to predict the importance of publication activity.

Originality: The study is the first French contribution to e-journal value studies. Its originality consists in developing a value viewpoint that relies on a bibliometric approach.


Reproducible and reusable research: Are journal data sharing policies meeting the mark?

Author : Nicole A Vasilevsky, Jessica Minnier, Melissa A Haendel, Robin E Champieux


There is wide agreement in the biomedical research community that research data sharing is a primary ingredient for ensuring that science is more transparent and reproducible.

Publishers could play an important role in facilitating and enforcing data sharing; however, many journals have not yet implemented data sharing policies and the requirements vary widely across journals. This study set out to analyze the pervasiveness and quality of data sharing policies in the biomedical literature.


The online author’s instructions and editorial policies for 318 biomedical journals were manually reviewed to analyze the journal’s data sharing requirements and characteristics.

The data sharing policies were ranked using a rubric to determine if data sharing was required, recommended, required only for omics data, or not addressed at all. The data sharing method and licensing recommendations were examined, as well any mention of reproducibility or similar concepts.

The data was analyzed for patterns relating to publishing volume, Journal Impact Factor, and the publishing model (open access or subscription) of each journal.


11.9% of journals analyzed explicitly stated that data sharing was required as a condition of publication. 9.1% of journals required data sharing, but did not state that it would affect publication decisions. 23.3% of journals had a statement encouraging authors to share their data but did not require it.

There was no mention of data sharing in 31.8% of journals. Impact factors were significantly higher for journals with the strongest data sharing policies compared to all other data sharing mark categories. Open access journals were not more likely to require data sharing than subscription journals.


Our study confirmed earlier investigations which observed that only a minority of biomedical journals require data sharing, and a significant association between higher Impact Factors and journals with a data sharing requirement.

Moreover, while 65.7% of the journals in our study that required data sharing addressed the concept of reproducibility, as with earlier investigations, we found that most data sharing policies did not provide specific guidance on the practices that ensure data is maximally available and reusable.

URL : Reproducible and reusable research: Are journal data sharing policies meeting the mark?