Open access megajournals: The publisher perspective (Part 1: Motivations)

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.

URL : Open access megajournals: The publisher perspective (Part 1: Motivations)

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Quantifying the distribution of editorial power and manuscript decision bias at the mega-journal PLOS ONE

Author : Alexander M. Petersen

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.


Entre science légitime et science amateur : le devenir trivial d’une information scientifique sur Internet

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.


Have the “mega-journals” reached the limits to growth?

“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.”

URL :  Have the “mega-journals” reached the limits to growth?


Multidimensional Journal Evaluation of PLOS ONE PLOS

“PLOS ONE (formerly PLoS ONE) is an international open access online journal published by the Public Library of Science. The periodical covers all science and medicine categories and has published as many as 28,852 documents from 2007 to 2011. PLOS ONE will be used to show the range of journal metrics and informetric methods regarding validity, practicability and informative value. To assess this data as specifically as possible and to address all relevant factors, the evaluation is split into five dimensions, each of which involves distinct metrics. The five dimensions are journal output, journal content, journal perception, journal citations and journal management. Each of them is pointed out in the process of the analyses, and all significant evaluation results are presented. The results show that PLOS ONE has experienced an enormous development. Because of a relatively low rejection rate of 31%, its openness towards a multitude of different research areas, an internationally large peer review community, and its open access, a plurality of documents can be published in comparison with a print-journal or other online periodicals. The results of the evaluation indicate that PLOS ONE should be assessed from numerous perspectives because there are a variety of indicators beyond the impact factor that can be made use of in order to evaluate exhaustively the standing of the journal as well as its prestige and impact.”