“No comment”?: A study of commenting on PLOS articles

Authors : Simon Wakeling, Peter Willett, Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry, Stephen Pinfield, Valerie Spezi, Marc Bonne, Christina Founti, Itzelle Medina Perea

Article commenting functionality allows users to add publically visible comments to an article on a publisher’s website. As well as facilitating forms of post-publication peer review, for publishers of open-access mega-journals (large, broad scope, OA journals that seek to publish all technically or scientifically sound research) comments are also thought to serve as a means for the community to discuss and communicate the significance and novelty of the research, factors which are not assessed during peer review.

In this paper we present the results of an analysis of commenting on articles published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), publisher of the first and best-known mega-journal PLOS ONE, between 2003 and 2016.

We find that while overall commenting rates are low, and have declined since 2010, there is substantial variation across different PLOS titles. Using a typology of comments developed for this research we also find that only around half of comments engage in an academic discussion of the article, and that these discussions are most likely to focus on the paper’s technical soundness.

Our results suggest that publishers have yet to encourage significant numbers of readers to leave comments, with implications for the effectiveness of commenting as a means of collecting and communicating community perceptions of an article’s importance.

URL : http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/138717/

Gold Open Access Publishing in Mega-Journals: Developing Countries Pay the Price of Western Premium Academic Output

Authors : Jacintha Ellers, Thomas W. Crowther, Jeffrey A. Harvey

Open access publishing (OAP) makes research output freely available, and several national governments have now made OAP mandatory for all publicly funded research. Gold OAP is a common form of OAP where the author pays an article processing charge (APC) to make the article freely available to readers.

However, gold OAP is a cause for concern because it drives a redistribution of valuable research money to support open access papers in ‘mega-journals’ with more permissive acceptance criteria. We present a data-driven evaluation of the financial ramifications of gold OAP and provide evidence that gold OAP in mega-journals is biased toward Western industrialized countries.

From 2011 to 2015, the period of our data collection, countries with developing economies had a disproportionately greater share of articles published in the lower-tier mega-journals and thus paid article APCs that cross-subsidize publications in the top-tier journals of the same publisher.

Conversely, scientists from Western developed countries had a disproportionately greater share of articles published in those same top-tier journals. The global inequity of the cross-subsidizing APC model was demonstrated across five different mega-journals, showing that the issue is a common problem.

We need to develop stringent and fair criteria that address the global financial implications of OAP, as publication fees should reflect the real cost of publishing and be transparent for authors.

URL : https://research.vu.nl/en/publications/gold-open-access-publishing-in-mega-journals-developing-countries

Evolution of the scholarly mega-journal, 2006–2017

 Author : Bo-Christer Björk

Mega-journals are a new kind of scholarly journal made possible by electronic publishing. They are open access (OA) and funded by charges, which authors pay for the publishing services. What distinguishes mega-journals from other OA journals is, in particular, a peer review focusing only on scientific trustworthiness.

The journals can easily publish thousands of articles per year and there is no need to filter articles due to restricted slots in the publishing schedule. This study updates some earlier longitudinal studies of the evolution of mega-journals and their publication volumes.

After very rapid growth in 2010–2013, the increase in overall article volumes has slowed down. Mega-journals are also increasingly dependent for sustained growth on Chinese authors, who now contribute 25% of all articles in such journals.

There has also been an internal shift in market shares. PLOS ONE, which totally dominated mega-journal publishing in the early years, currently publishes around one-third of all articles. Scientific Reports has grown rapidly since 2014 and is now the biggest journal.

URL : Evolution of the scholarly mega-journal, 2006–2017

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4357

“Let the community decide”? The vision and reality of soundness-only peer review in open-access mega-journals

Authors : Valerie Spezi, Simon Wakeling, Stephen Pinfield, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Peter Willett

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to better understand the theory and practice of peer review in open-access mega-journals (OAMJs). OAMJs typically operate a “soundness-only” review policy aiming to evaluate only the rigour of an article, not the novelty or significance of the research or its relevance to a particular community, with these elements being left for “the community to decide” post-publication.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reports the results of interviews with 31 senior publishers and editors representing 16 different organisations, including 10 that publish an OAMJ. Thematic analysis was carried out on the data and an analytical model developed to explicate their significance.

Findings

Findings suggest that in reality criteria beyond technical or scientific soundness can and do influence editorial decisions. Deviations from the original OAMJ model are both publisher supported (in the form of requirements for an article to be “worthy” of publication) and practice driven (in the form of some reviewers and editors applying traditional peer review criteria to OAMJ submissions). Also publishers believe post-publication evaluation of novelty, significance and relevance remains problematic.

Originality/value

The study is based on unprecedented access to senior publishers and editors, allowing insight into their strategic and operational priorities.

The paper is the first to report in-depth qualitative data relating specifically to soundness-only peer review for OAMJs, shedding new light on the OAMJ phenomenon and helping inform discussion on its future role in scholarly communication. The paper proposes a new model for understanding the OAMJ approach to quality assurance, and how it is different from traditional peer review.

URL : “Let the community decide”? The vision and reality of soundness-only peer review in open-access mega-journals

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-06-2017-0092

Open access megajournals: The publisher perspective (Part 2: Operational realities)

Authors : Simon Wakeling ,Valérie Spezi, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Stephen Pinfield, Peter Willett

This paper is the second 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, which take an innovative approach to peer review, basing acceptance decisions solely on the technical or scientific soundness of the article. B

ased on interviews with 31 publishers and editors, this paper reports the perceived cultural, operational, and technical challenges associated with launching, growing, and maintaining a megajournal.

We find that overcoming these challenges while delivering the societal benefits associated with OAMJs is seen to require significant investment in people and systems, as well as an ongoing commitment to the model.

URL : Open access megajournals: The publisher perspective (Part 2: Operational realities)

Alternative location : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/leap.1118/full

 

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)

Alternative location : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/leap.1117/full

 

 

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

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/publications5020007