Authors: Kyle Siler, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Over the past decade, megajournals have expanded in popularity and established a legitimate niche in academic publishing. Leveraging advantages of digital publishing, megajournals are characterized by large publication volume, broad interdisciplinary scope, and peer‐review filters that select primarily for scientific soundness as opposed to novelty or originality.
These publishing innovations are complementary and competitive vis‐à‐vis traditional journals. We analyze how megajournals (PLOS One, Scientific Reports) are represented in different fields relative to prominent generalist journals (Nature, PNAS, Science) and “quasi‐megajournals” (Nature Communications, PeerJ).
Our results show that both megajournals and prominent traditional journals have distinctive niches, despite the similar interdisciplinary scopes of such journals.
These niches—defined by publishing volume and disciplinary diversity—are dynamic and varied over the relatively brief histories of the analyzed megajournals. Although the life sciences are the predominant contributor to megajournals, there is variation in the disciplinary composition of different megajournals.
The growth trajectories and disciplinary composition of generalist journals—including megajournals—reflect changing knowledge dissemination and reward structures in science.
URL : The diverse niches of megajournals: Specialism within generalism
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24299
Author : Bo-Christer Bjórk
The acceptance rate of scholarly journals is an important selection criterion for authors choosing where to submit their manuscripts. Unfortunately, information about the acceptance (or rejection rates) of individual journals is seldom available.
This article surveys available systematic information and studies of acceptance rates. The overall global average is around 35-40%. There are significant differences between fields of science, with biomedicine having higher acceptance rates compared to for instance the social sciences.
Open access journals usually have higher acceptance rates than subscription journals, and this is particularly true for so-called OA mega-journals, which have peer review criteria focusing on sound science only.
URL : https://recyt.fecyt.es/index.php/EPI/article/view/epi.2019.jul.07
Authors : Barbara McGillivray, Mathias Astell
How does usage of an article relate to the number of citations it accrues? Does the timeframe in which an article is used (and how much that article is used) have an effect on when and how much that article is cited?
What role does an article’s subject area play in the relationship between usage and citations? This paper aims to answer these questions through an observational study of usage and citation data collected about a multidisciplinary, open access mega journal, Scientific Reports.
We find that while the direct correlation between usage and citations is only moderate at best, the relationship between how early and how much an article is used and how early it is cited is much clearer. What is more, we find that when an article is cited earlier it is also cited more often, leading to the assertion that if an article is more highly accessed early on, it is more likely to be cited earlier and more often.
As Scientific Reports is a multidisciplinary journal covering all natural and clinical sciences, this study was also able to look at the differences across subject areas and found some interesting variations when comparing the major subject areas covered by the journal (i.e. biological, Earth, physical and health sciences).
URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.01333
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.
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0165551518819965
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
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
Authors : Valerie Spezi, Simon Wakeling, Stephen Pinfield, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Peter Willett
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.
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 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.
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