Open access medical journals: Benefits and challenges

Authors : Jenny Z.Wang, Aunna Pourang, Barbara Burrall

The world of medical science literature is ever increasingly accessible via the Internet. Open access online medical journals, in particular, offer access to a wide variety of useful information at no cost.

In addition, they provide avenues for publishing that are available to health care providers of all levels of training and practice. Whereas costs are less with the publishing of online open access journals, fewer resources for funding and technical support also exist.

A recent rise in predatory journals, which solicit authors but charge high fees per paper published and provide low oversight, pose other challenges to ensuring the credibility of accessible scientific literature.

Recognizing the value and efforts of legitimate open access online medical journals can help the reader navigate the over 11,000 open access journals that are available to date.


Scholarly journals in building and civil engineering – the big picture and current impact of open access

Author : Bo-Christer Björk

The publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals has in the past 20 years moved from print to primarily digital publishing, but the subscription-based revenue model is still dominant.

This means that the additional benefits of open access to all scholarly articles still remains a vision, despite some progress. A selection of 72 leading journals in building & construction was studied, in order to determine the current status in this subfield of engineering. Of the approximately 9,500 articles published yearly in these, only some 5,6 % are in the 11 full OA journals included, and a couple of percentage more are paid OA articles in hybrid journals.

In most of the OA journals publishing is free for the authors. In terms of OA maturity, the field lags far behind the situation across all sciences, where at least 15 % of articles are in full OA journals.

If OA is to become more important in our field, the growth is likely to come from major publishers starting new journals funded by author payments (APCs) or converting existing hybrid journals once they have reached a critical share of paid OA articles.

URL : Scholarly journals in building and civil engineering – the big picture and current impact of open access

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Being a deliberate prey of a predator: Researchers’ thoughts after having published in predatory journal

Authors: Najmeh Shaghaei, Charlotte Wien, Jakob Pavl Holck, Anita L. Thiesen, Ole Ellegaard, Evgenios Vlachos, Thea Marie Drachen

A central question concerning scientific publishing is how researchers select journals to which they submit their work, since the choice of publication channel can make or break researchers.

The gold-digger mentality developed by some publishers created the so-called predatory journals that accept manuscripts for a fee with little peer review. The literature claims that mainly researchers from low-ranked universities in developing countries publish in predatory journals.

We decided to challenge this claim using the University of Southern Denmark as a case. We ran the Beall’s List against our research registration database and identified 31 possibly predatory publications from a set of 6,851 publications within 2015-2016.

A qualitative research interview revealed that experienced researchers from the developed world publish in predatory journals mainly for the same reasons as do researchers from developing countries: lack of awareness, speed and ease of the publication process, and a chance to get elsewhere rejected work published.

However, our findings indicate that the Open Access potential and a larger readership outreach were also motives for publishing in open access journals with quick acceptance rates.

URL : Being a deliberate prey of a predator: Researchers’ thoughts after having published in predatory journal


Factors Influencing Cities’ Publishing Efficiency

Author : Csomós György


Recently, a vast number of scientific publications have been produced in cities in emerging countries. It has long been observed that the publication output of Beijing has exceeded that of any other city in the world, including such leading centres of science as Boston, New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo.

Researchers have suggested that, instead of focusing on cities’ total publication output, the quality of the output in terms of the number of highly cited papers should be examined. However, in the period from 2014 to 2016, Beijing produced as many highly cited papers as Boston, London, or New York.

In this paper, another method is proposed to measure cities’ publishing performance by focusing on cities’ publishing efficiency (i.e., the ratio of highly cited articles to all articles produced in that city).


First, 554 cities are ranked based on their publishing efficiency, then some general factors influencing cities’ publishing efficiency are revealed. The general factors examined in this paper are as follows: the linguistic environment of cities, cities’ economic development level, the location of excellent organisations, cities’ international collaboration patterns, and their scientific field profile.

Furthermore, the paper examines the fundamental differences between the general factors influencing the publishing efficiency of the top 100 most efficient cities and the bottom 100 least efficient cities.


Based on the research results, the conclusion can be drawn that a city’s publishing efficiency will be high if meets the following general conditions: it is in a country in the Anglosphere–Core; it is in a high-income country; it is home to top-ranked universities and/or world-renowned research institutions; researchers affiliated with that city most intensely collaborate with researchers affiliated with cities in the United States, Germany, England, France, Canada, Australia, and Italy; and the most productive scientific disciplines of highly cited articles are published in high-impact multidisciplinary journals, disciplines in health sciences (especially general internal medicine and oncology), and disciplines in natural sciences (especially physics, astronomy, and astrophysics).

Research limitations

It is always problematic to demarcate the boundaries of cities (e.g., New York City vs. Greater New York), and regarding this issue there is no consensus among researchers.

The Web of Science presents the name of cities in the addresses reported by the authors of publications. In this paper cities correspond to the spatial units between the country/state level and the institution level as indicated in the Web of Science.

Furthermore, it is necessary to highlight that the Web of Science is biased towards English-language journals and journals published in the field of biomedicine. These facts may influence the outcome of the research.

Practical implications

Publishing efficiency, as an indicator, shows how successful a city is at the production of science. Naturally, cities have limited opportunities to compete for components of the science establishment (e.g., universities, hospitals).

However, cities can compete to attract innovation-oriented companies, high tech firms, and R&D facilities of multinational companies by for example establishing science parks. The positive effect of this process on the city’s performance in science can be observed in the example of Beijing, which publishing efficiency has been increased rapidly.


Previous scientometric studies have examined cities’ publication output in terms of the number of papers, or the number of highly cited papers, which are largely size dependent indicators; however this paper attempts to present a more quality-based approach.

URL : Factors Influencing Cities’ Publishing Efficiency


Biomedical authors’ awareness of publication ethics: an international survey

Authors : Sara Schroter, Jason Roberts, Elizabeth Loder, Donald B Penzien, Sarah Mahadeo, Timothy T Houle


The extent to which biomedical authors have received training in publication ethics, and their attitudes and opinions about the ethical aspects of specific behaviours, have been understudied. We sought to characterise the knowledge and attitudes of biomedical authors about common issues in publication ethics.


Cross-sectional online survey.

Setting and participants

Corresponding authors of research submissions to 20 journals.

Main outcome measure(s)

Perceived level of unethical behaviour (rated 0 to 10) presented in five vignettes containing key variables that were experimentally manipulated on entry to the survey and perceived level of knowledge of seven ethical topics related to publishing (prior publication, author omission, self-plagiarism, honorary authorship, conflicts of interest, image manipulation and plagiarism).


4043/10 582 (38%) researchers responded. Respondents worked in 100 countries and reported varying levels of publishing experience. 67% (n=2700) had received some publication ethics training from a mentor, 41% (n=1677) a partial course, 28% (n=1130) a full course and 55% (n=2206) an online course; only a small proportion rated training received as excellent.

There was a full range (0 to 10 points) in ratings of the extent of unethical behaviour within each vignette, illustrating a broad range of opinion about the ethical acceptability of the behaviours evaluated, but these opinions were little altered by the context in which it occurred.

Participants reported substantial variability in their perceived knowledge of seven publication ethics topics; one-third perceived their knowledge to be less than ‘some knowledge’ for the sum of the seven ethical topics and only 9% perceived ‘substantial knowledge’ of all topics.


We found a large degree of variability in espoused training and perceived knowledge, and variability in views about how ethical or unethical scenarios were. Ethical standards need to be better articulated and taught to improve consistency of training across institutions and countries.

URL : Biomedical authors’ awareness of publication ethics: an international survey


Confused about copyright? Assessing Researchers’ Comprehension of Copyright Transfer Agreements

Authors: Alexandra Kohn, Jessica Lange


Academic authors’ confusion about copyright and publisher policy is often cited as a challenge to their effective sharing of their own published research, from having a chilling effect on selfarchiving in institutional and subject repositories, to leading to the posting of versions of articles on social networking sites in contravention of publisher policy and beyond.

This study seeks to determine the extent to which authors understand the terms of these policies as expressed in publishers’ copyright transfer agreements (CTAs), taking into account such factors as the authors’ disciplines and publishing experience, as well as the wording and structure of these agreements.


We distributed an online survey experiment to corresponding authors of academic research articles indexed in the Scopus database. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of two copyright transfer agreements and were subsequently asked to answer a series of questions about these agreements to determine their level of comprehension.

The survey was sent to 3,154 participants, with 122 responding, representing a 4% response rate. Basic demographic information as well as information about participants’ previous publishing experience was also collected. We analyzed the survey data using Ordinary Least Squared (OLS) regressions and probit regressions.


Participants demonstrated a low rate of understanding of the terms of the CTAs they were asked to read. Participants averaged a score of 33% on the survey, indicating a low comprehension level of author rights.

This figure did not vary significantly, regardless of the respondents’ discipline, time in academia, level of experience with publishing, or whether or not they had published previously with the publisher whose CTA they were administered. Results also indicated that participants did equally poorly on the survey regardless of which of the two CTAs they received.

However, academic authors do appear to have a greater chance of understanding a CTA when a specific activity is explicitly outlined in the text of the agreement.

URL : Confused about copyright? Assessing Researchers’ Comprehension of Copyright Transfer Agreements


Marketing via Email Solicitation by Predatory (and Legitimate) Journals: An Evaluation of Quality, Frequency and Relevance

Authors: Warren Burggren, Dilip K. Madasu, Kevin S. Hawkins, Martin Halbert


Open access (OA) journals have proliferated in recent years. Many journals are highly reputable, delivering on the promise of open access to research as an alternative to traditional, subscriptionbased journals.

Yet some OA journals border on, or clearly fall within, the realm of so-called “predatory journals.” Most discussion of such journals has focused on the quality of articles published within them.

Considerably less attention has been paid to the marketing practices of predatory journals—primarily their mass e-mailing—and to the impact that this practice may have on recipients’ perception of OA journals as a whole.


This study analyzed a subset of the 1,816 e-mails received by a single university biology faculty member during a 24-month period (2015 and 2016) with an update from December 2017 and January 2018.


Of those e-mails sent in 2015, approximately 37% were copies or near-copies of previous e-mail messages sent to the recipient, less than 25% of e-mails from predatory journals mentioned publication fees, only about 30% of soliciting journals were listed in DOAJ, and only about 4% had an identifiable impact factor.

While most e-mails indicated a purported familiarity with, and respect for, the recipient, more than two thirds of the e-mails did not, implying use of mass-e-mailing methodologies.

Almost 80% of the e-mail solicitations had grammar and/or spelling mistakes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, only a staggeringly small 4% of e-mails were judged highly relevant to the recipient’s area of expertise.


In light of the marketing practices of many predatory journals, we advocate specific instructions for librarians, faculty mentors, and administrators of legitimate OA journals as they interact with new researchers, junior faculty, and other professionals learning how to discern the quality of journals that send direct e-mail solicitations.

URL : Marketing via Email Solicitation by Predatory (and Legitimate) Journals: An Evaluation of Quality, Frequency and Relevance