How to avoid borrowed plumes in academia

Authors : Margit Osterloh, Bruno S. Frey

Publications in top journals today have a powerful influence on academic careers although there is much criticism of using journal rankings to evaluate individual articles.

We ask why this practice of performance evaluation is still so influential. We suggest this is the case because a majority of authors benefit from the present system due to the extreme skewness of citation distributions. “Performance paradox” effects aggravate the problem.

Three extant suggestions for reforming performance management are critically discussed. We advance a new proposal based on the insight that fundamental uncertainty is symptomatic for scholarly work. It suggests focal randomization using a rationally founded and well-orchestrated procedure.

URL : How to avoid borrowed plumes in academia

Access to Top-Cited Emergency Care Articles (Published Between 2012 and 2016) Without Subscription

Authors : Murad Al Hamzy, Dominique de Villiers, Megan Banner, Hein Lamprecht, Stevan R. Bruijns


Unrestricted access to journal publications speeds research progress, productivity, and knowledge translation, which in turn develops and promotes the efficient dissemination of content.

We describe access to the 500 most-cited emergency medicine (EM) articles (published between 2012 and 2016) in terms of publisher-based access (open access or subscription), alternate access routes (self-archived or author provided), and relative cost of access.


We used the Scopus database to identify the 500 most-cited EM articles published between 2012 and 2016. Access status was collected from the journal publisher. For studies not available via open access, we searched on Google, Google Scholar, Researchgate,, and the Unpaywall and Open Access Button browser plugins to locate self archived copies.

We contacted corresponding authors of the remaining inaccessible studies for a copy of each of their articles. We collected article processing and access costs from the journal publishers, and then calculated relative cost differences using the World Bank purchasing power parity index for the United States (U.S.), Germany, Turkey, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia.

This allows costs to be understood relative to the economic context of the countries from which they originated.


We identified 500 articles for inclusion in the study. Of these, 167 (33%) were published in an open access format. Of the remaining 333 (67%), 204 (61%) were available elsewhere on the internet, 18 (4%) were provided by the authors, and 111 (22%) were accessible by subscription only.

The mean article processing and access charges were $2,518.62 and $44.78, respectively. These costs were 2.24, 1.75, 2.28 and 1.56 times more expensive for South African, Chinese, Turkish, and Brazilian authors, respectively, than for U.S. authors (p<0.001 all).


Despite the advantage of open access publication for knowledge translation, social responsibility, and increased citation, one in five of the 500 EM articles were accessible only via subscription. Access for scientists from upper-middle income countries was significantly hampered by cost.

It is important to acknowledge the value this has for authors from low- and middle-income countries. Authors should also consider the citation advantage afforded by open access publishing when deciding where to publish.

URL : Access to Top-Cited Emergency Care Articles (Published Between 2012 and 2016) Without Subscription


Altruism or Self-Interest? Exploring the Motivations of Open Access Authors

Authors : Robert Heaton, Dylan Burns, Becky Thoms

More than 250 authors at Utah State University published an Open Access (OA) article in 2016. Analysis of survey results and publication data from Scopus suggests that the following factors led authors to choose OA venues: ability to pay publishing charges, disciplinary colleagues’ positive attitudes toward OA, and personal feelings such as altruism and desire to reach a wide audience.

Tenure status was not an apparent factor. This article adds to the body of literature on author motivations and can inform library outreach and marketing efforts, the creation of new publishing models, and the conversation about the larger scholarly publishing landscape.

URL : Altruism or Self-Interest? Exploring the Motivations of Open Access Authors


Impact Assessment of Non-Indexed Open Access Journals: A Case Study

Authors : Daniela Solomon, Mark Eddy

This case study assesses the impact of a small, open-access social sciences journal not included in citation tracking indexes by exploring measures of the journal’s influence beyond the established “impact factor” formula. An analysis of Google Scholar data revealed the journal’s global reach and value to researchers.

This study enabled the journal’s editors to measure the success of their publication according to its professed scope and mission, and to quantify its impact for prospective contributors.

The impact assessment strategies outlined here can be leveraged effectively by academic librarians to provide high-value consultancy for scholar-editors of open access research journals.


Plan S: challenges and opportunities in Spain

Authors: Francisco Jesús Martínez-Galindo, Francisco Rubio, Javier Hernández-San-Miguel, Sergio Fernández Burguete

Spain is one of the most active European countries in the open access (OA) movement. Although the gold route has scarcely been used, the green route has been intensively implemented through fulfilment of European and national mandates and the development of institutional policies.

Plan S is becoming a disruptive element in the context of scientific communication, and Spain’s possible adherence to Plan S could imply technical challenges in journals and repositories, additional costs that are difficult to estimate, or refusal to accept the Plan on the part of researchers (based on the loss of freedom to choose the journal in which to publish).

However, the implementation of Plan S in Spain would also lead to greater transparency in APC spending, a reduction in publishing in predatory journals, greater visibility and impact for journals that are only published OA, improvements in OA monitoring and a change in the evaluation model for researchers from one based on the impact factor to one based on DORA recommendations.

URL : Plan S: challenges and opportunities in Spain


Revisiting ‘the 1990s debutante’: scholar-led publishing and the pre-history of the open access movement

Author : Samuel Moore

The movement for open access publishing is often said to have its roots in the scientific disciplines, having been popularised by scientific publishers and formalised through a range of top-down policy interventions. But there is an often-neglected pre-history of open access that can be found in the early DIY publishers of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Managed entirely by working academics, these journals published research in the humanities and social sciences and stand out for their unique set of motivations and practices.

This article explores this separate lineage in the history of the open access movement through a critical-theoretical analysis of the motivations and practices of the early scholar-led publishers.

Alongside showing the involvement of the humanities and social sciences in the formation of open access, the analysis reveals the importance that these journals placed on experimental practices, critique of commercial publishing and the desire to reach new audiences.

Understood in today’s context, this research is significant for adding complexity to the history of open access, which policymakers, advocates and publishing scholars should keep in mind as open access goes mainstream.


Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing

Authors : Jonathan P. Tennant, Harry Crane, Tom Crick, Jacinto Davila, Asura Enkhbayar, Johanna Havemann, Bianca Kramer, Ryan Martin, Paola Masuzzo,  Andy Nobes, Curt Rice, Bárbara Rivera-López, Tony Ross-Hellauer, Susanne Sattler, Paul D. Thacker, Marc Vanholsbeeck

The changing world of scholarly communication and the emerging new wave of ‘Open Science’ or ‘Open Research’ has brought to light a number of controversial and hotly debated topics.

Evidence-based rational debate is regularly drowned out by misinformed or exaggerated rhetoric, which does not benefit the evolving system of scholarly communication.

This article aims to provide a baseline evidence framework for ten of the most contested topics, in order to help frame and move forward discussions, practices, and policies.

We address issues around preprints and scooping, the practice of copyright transfer, the function of peer review, predatory publishers, and the legitimacy of ‘global’ databases.

These arguments and data will be a powerful tool against misinformation across wider academic research, policy and practice, and will inform changes within the rapidly evolving scholarly publishing system.

URL : Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing