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


Developments in research data management in academic libraries: Towards an understanding of research data service maturity

Authors : Andrew M. Cox, Mary Anne Kennan, Liz Lyon, Stephen Pinfield

This paper reports an international study of research data management (RDM) activities, services and capabilities in higher education libraries. It presents the results of a survey covering higher education libraries in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK.

The results indicate that libraries have provided leadership in RDM, particularly in advocacy and policy development. Service development is still limited, focused especially on advisory and consultancy services (such as data management planning support and data-related training), rather than technical services (such as provision of a data catalogue, and curation of active data).

Data curation skills development is underway in libraries, but skills and capabilities are not consistently in place and remain a concern. Other major challenges include resourcing, working with other support services, and achieving ‘buy in’ from researchers and senior managers.

Results are compared with previous studies in order to assess trends and relative maturity levels. The range of RDM activities explored in this study are positioned on a ‘landscape maturity model’, which reflects current and planned research data services and practice in academic libraries, representing a ‘snapshot’ of current developments and a baseline for future research.


A ‘gold-centric’ implementation of open access: Hybrid journals, the ‘total cost of publication’ and policy development in the UK and beyond

Authors : Stephen Pinfield, Jennifer Salter, Peter A. Bath

This paper reports analysis of data from higher education institutions in the UK on their experience of the open-access (OA) publishing market working within a policy environment favouring ‘Gold’ OA (OA publishing in journals).

It models the ‘total cost of publication’ – comprising costs of journal subscriptions, OA article-processing charges (APCs) and new administrative costs – for a sample of 24 institutions. APCs are shown to constitute 12% of the ‘total cost of publication’, APC administration, 1%, and subscriptions, 87% (for a sample of seven publishers).

APC expenditure in institutions rose between 2012 and 2014 at the same time as rising subscription costs. There was disproportionately high take up of Gold options for Health and Life Sciences articles.

APC prices paid varied widely, with a mean APC of £1,586 in 2014. ‘Hybrid’ options (subscription journals also offering OA for individual articles on payment of an APC) were considerably more expensive than fully-OA titles, but the data indicate a correlation between APC price and journal quality (as reflected in the citation rates of journals).

The policy implications of these developments are explored particularly in relation to hybrid OA and potential of offsetting subscription and APC costs.


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


Business process costs of implementing “gold” and “green” open access in institutional and national contexts

Authors : Robert Johnson, Stephen Pinfield, Mattia Fosci

As open access (OA) publication of research outputs becomes increasingly common and is mandated by institutions and research funders, it is important to understand different aspects of the costs involved.

This paper provides an early review of administrative costs incurred by universities in making research outputs OA, either via publication in journals (“Gold” OA), involving payment of article-processing charges (APCs), or via deposit in repositories (“Green” OA).

Using data from 29 UK institutions, it finds that the administrative time, as well as the cost incurred by universities, to make an article OA using the Gold route is over 2.5 times higher than Green. Costs are then modeled at a national level using recent UK policy initiatives from Research Councils UK and the Higher Education Funding Councils’ Research Excellence Framework as case studies.

The study also demonstrates that the costs of complying with research funders’ OA policies are considerably higher than where an OA publication is left entirely to authors’ discretion.

Key target areas for future efficiencies in the business processes are identified and potential cost savings calculated. The analysis is designed to inform ongoing policy development at the institutional and national levels.

URL : Business process costs of implementing “gold” and “green” open access in institutional and national contexts

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