Scholarly journal publishing in transition: from restricted to open access

Author : Bo-Christer Björk

While the business models used in most segments of the media industry have been profoundly changed by the Internet surprisingly little has been changed in the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals.

Electronic delivery has become the norm, but the same publishers as before are dominating the market, selling content to subscribers. This article asks the question why Open Access (OA) to the output of mainly publicly funded research hasn’t yet become the mainstream business model.

OA implies a reversal of business logic from readers paying for content to authors paying fro dissemination via universa free access. The current situation is analyzed using Porter’s five forces model.

The analysis demonstrates a lack of competitive pressure in this industry, leading to so high profit levels of the leading publishers that they have yet to feel a strong need to change the way they operate.


How Frequently are Articles in Predatory Open Access Journals Cited

Authors : Bo-Christer Björk, Sari Kanto-Karvonen, J. Tuomas Harviainen

Predatory journals are Open Access journals of highly questionable scientific quality. Such journals pretend to use peer review for quality assurance, and spam academics with requests for submissions, in order to collect author payments.

In recent years predatory journals have received a lot of negative media. While much has been said about the harm that such journals cause to academic publishing in general, an overlooked aspect is how much articles in such journals are actually read and in particular cited, that is if they have any significant impact on the research in their fields.

Other studies have already demonstrated that only some of the articles in predatory journals contain faulty and directly harmful results, while a lot of the articles present mediocre and poorly reported studies.

We studied citation statistics over a five-year period in Google Scholar for 250 random articles published in such journals in 2014, and found an average of 2,6 citations per article and that 60 % of the articles had no citations at all.

For comparison a random sample of articles published in the approximately 25,000 peer reviewed journals included in the Scopus index had an average of 18,1 citations in the same period with only 9 % receiving no citations. We conclude that articles published in predatory journals have little scientific impact.


Thought Experiment on the Impact of Plan S on non-Plan S countries and Japan

Author : Miho Funamori

In September 2018, a consortium of eleven European research funding agencies known as cOAlition S announced “Plan S,” which requires full and immediate Open Access to all research publications stemming from projects funded by the agencies.

The goal of making research output openly available to all has been generally welcomed; however, the strict requirements of Plan S, which take effect on January 1, 2020, have drawn criticisms from various stakeholders. Researchers from affected countries considered it a violation of their academic freedom, as they will be forced to publish only in conforming journals.

Publishers, especially those publishing high profile journals, claim that it will be impossible to sustain their business if forced to convert to Open Access journals and to rely solely on article processing charges. Institutions operating their own Open Access platforms or Open Access repositories view the requirements as well-intended but difficult to meet.

Despite the turmoil, little has been heard from non-Plan S countries, especially from non-English speaking countries outside Europe. There have been scarcely any comments or analyses relating to the impact of Plan S on these non-Plan S countries.

This paper aims to fill the gap with a thought experiment on the impact of Plan S requirements on various stakeholders in these non-Plan S countries. The analysis concludes that non-Plan S countries are indirectly affected by Plan S by being forced to adapt to the world standard that Plan S sets forth.

As many non-Plan S countries lack support for this transition from their respective funding agencies, they will be seriously disadvantaged to adapt to the new standards. The article processing charge for publishing in Open Access journals and the strict requirements for Open Access platforms could suppress research output from non-Plan S countries and reduce their research competitiveness.

Local publishers, whose financial position in many cases is already precarious, may be forced to shut down or merge with larger commercial publishers. As scholarly communication is globally interconnected, the author argues the need to consider the impact of Plan S on non-Plan S countries and explore alternative ways for realizing full and immediate OA by learning from local practices.

This analysis uses Japan as an exemplar of non-Plan S countries. Its distinctiveness is specified where applicable.


A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment

Authors : Garret Christensen, Allan Dafoe, Edward Miguel, Don A. Moore, Andrew K. Rose

This study estimates the effect of data sharing on the citations of academic articles, using journal policies as a natural experiment. We begin by examining 17 high-impact journals that have adopted the requirement that data from published articles be publicly posted.

We match these 17 journals to 13 journals without policy changes and find that empirical articles published just before their change in editorial policy have citation rates with no statistically significant difference from those published shortly after the shift.

We then ask whether this null result stems from poor compliance with data sharing policies, and use the data sharing policy changes as instrumental variables to examine more closely two leading journals in economics and political science with relatively strong enforcement of new data policies.

We find that articles that make their data available receive 97 additional citations (estimate standard error of 34).

We conclude that: a) authors who share data may be rewarded eventually with additional scholarly citations, and b) data-posting policies alone do not increase the impact of articles published in a journal unless those policies are enforced.

URL : A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment


Transparent, Reproducible, and Open Science Practices of Published Literature in Dermatology Journals: Cross-Sectional Analysis

Authors : J Michael Anderson, Andrew Niemann, Austin L Johnson, Courtney Cook, Daniel Tritz, Matt Vassar


Reproducible research is a foundational component for scientific advancements, yet little is known regarding the extent of reproducible research within the dermatology literature.


This study aimed to determine the quality and transparency of the literature in dermatology journals by evaluating for the presence of 8 indicators of reproducible and transparent research practices.


By implementing a cross-sectional study design, we conducted an advanced search of publications in dermatology journals from the National Library of Medicine catalog. Our search included articles published between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2018.

After generating a list of eligible dermatology publications, we then searched for full text PDF versions by using Open Access Button, Google Scholar, and PubMed. Publications were analyzed for 8 indicators of reproducibility and transparency—availability of materials, data, analysis scripts, protocol, preregistration, conflict of interest statement, funding statement, and open access—using a pilot-tested Google Form.


After exclusion, 127 studies with empirical data were included in our analysis. Certain indicators were more poorly reported than others. We found that most publications (113, 88.9%) did not provide unmodified, raw data used to make computations, 124 (97.6%) failed to make the complete protocol available, and 126 (99.2%) did not include step-by-step analysis scripts.


Our sample of studies published in dermatology journals do not appear to include sufficient detail to be accurately and successfully reproduced in their entirety. Solutions to increase the quality, reproducibility, and transparency of dermatology research are warranted.

More robust reporting of key methodological details, open data sharing, and stricter standards journals impose on authors regarding disclosure of study materials might help to better the climate of reproducible research in dermatology.

URL : Transparent, Reproducible, and Open Science Practices of Published Literature in Dermatology Journals: Cross-Sectional Analysis


Resurfacing Historical Scientific Data: A Case Study Involving Fruit Breeding Data

Authors : Shannon L. Farrell, Lois G. Hendrickson, Kristen L. Mastel, Katherine Adina Allen, Julia A. Kelly


The objective of this paper is to illustrate the importance and complexities of working with historical analog data that exists on university campuses. Using a case study of fruit breeding data, we highlight issues and opportunities for librarians to help preserve and increase access to potentially valuable data sets.


We worked in conjunction with researchers to inventory, describe, and increase access to a large, 100-year-old data set of analog fruit breeding data. This involved creating a spreadsheet to capture metadata about each data set, identifying data sets at risk for loss, and digitizing select items for deposit in our institutional repository.


We illustrate that large amounts of data exist within biological and agricultural sciences departments and labs, and how past practices of data collection, record keeping, storage, and management have hindered data reuse.

We demonstrate that librarians have a role in collaborating with researchers and providing direction in how to preserve analog data and make it available for reuse. This work may provide guidance for other science librarians pursing similar projects.


This case study demonstrates how science librarians can build or strengthen their role in managing and providing access to analog data by combining their data management skills with researchers’ needs to recover and reuse data.

URL : Resurfacing Historical Scientific Data: A Case Study Involving Fruit Breeding Data


“Data Stewardship Wizard”: A Tool Bringing Together Researchers, Data Stewards, and Data Experts around Data Management Planning

Authors: Robert Pergl, Rob Hooft, Marek Suchánek, Vojtěch Knaisl, Jan Slifka

The Data Stewardship Wizard is a tool for data management planning that is focused on getting the most value out of data management planning for the project itself rather than on fulfilling obligations.

It is based on FAIR Data Stewardship, in which each data-related decision in a project acts to optimize the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and/or Reusability of the data.

The background to this philosophy is that the first reuser of the data is the researcher themselves. The tool encourages the consulting of expertise and experts, can help researchers avoid risks they did not know they would encounter by confronting them with practical experience from others, and can help them discover helpful technologies they did not know existed.

In this paper, we discuss the context and motivation for the tool, we explain its architecture and we present key functions, such as the knowledge model evolvability and migrations, assembling data management plans, metrics and evaluation of data management plans.

URL : “Data Stewardship Wizard”: A Tool Bringing Together Researchers, Data Stewards, and Data Experts around Data Management Planning