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.


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


Attitudes of North American Academics toward Open Access Scholarly Journals

Authors : Elizabeth D. Dalton, Carol Tenopir, Bo-Christer Björk

In this study, the authors examine attitudes of researchers toward open access (OA) scholarly journals.

Using two-step cluster analysis to explore survey data from faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers at large North American research institutions, two different cluster types emerge: Those with a positive attitude toward OA and a desire to reach the nonscholarly audience groups who would most benefit from OA (“pro-OA”), and those with a more negative, skeptical attitude and less interest in reaching nonscholarly readers (“non-OA”).

The article explores these cluster identities in terms of position type, subject discipline, and productivity, as well as implications for policy and practice.


Intellectual and social similarity among scholarly journals: An exploratory comparison of the networks of editors, authors and co-citations

Authors : Alberto Baccini, Lucio Barabesi, Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

This paper explores, by using suitable quantitative techniques, to what extent the intellectual proximity among scholarly journals is also proximity in terms of social communities gathered around the journals.

Three fields are considered: statistics, economics and information and library sciences. Co-citation networks represent intellectual proximity among journals. The academic communities around the journals are represented by considering the networks of journals generated by authors writing in more than one journal (interlocking authorship: IA), and the networks generated by scholars sitting on the editorial board of more than one journal (interlocking editorship: IE).

Dissimilarity matrices are considered to compare the whole structure of the networks. The CC, IE, and IA networks appear to be correlated for the three fields. The strongest correlation is between CC and IA for the three fields.

Lower and similar correlations are obtained for CC and IE, and for IE and IA. The CC, IE, and IA networks are then partitioned in communities. Information and library sciences is the field in which communities are more easily detectable, whereas the most difficult field is economics.

The degrees of association among the detected communities show that they are not independent. For all the fields, the strongest association is between CC and IA networks; the minimum level of association is between IE and CC.

Overall, these results indicate that intellectual proximity is also proximity among authors and among editors of the journals. Thus, the three maps of editorial power, intellectual proximity, and authors communities tell similar stories.


Do we need to move from communication technology to user community? A new economic model of the journal as a club

Authors : John Hartley, Jason Potts, Lucy Montgomery, Ellie Rennie, Cameron Neylon

Much of the argument around reforming, remaking, or preserving the traditions of scholarly publishing is built on economic principles, explicit or implicit. Can we afford open access (OA)?

How do we pay for high‐quality services? Why does it cost so much? In this article, we argue that the sterility of much of this debate is a result of failure to tackle the question of what a journal is in economic terms.

We offer a way through by demonstrating that a journal is a club and discuss the implications for the scholarly publishing industry.

We use examples, ranging from OA to prestige journals, to explain why congestion is a problem for club‐based publications, and to discuss the importance of creative destruction for the maintenance of knowledge‐generating communities in publishing.


APCs – Mirroring the impact factor or legacy of the subscription-based model?

Author : Nina Schönfelder

With the ongoing open-access transformation, article processing charges (APCs) are gaining importance as the dominant business model for scientific open-access journals. This paper analyzes which factors determine the level of an APC by means of multivariate linear regression.

With data from OpenAPC, APCs actually paid are explained by the following variables: (1) the “source normalized impact per paper” (SNIP), (2) whether the journal is open access or hybrid, (3) the publisher of the journal, (4) the subject area of the journal, and (5) the year.

The results show that the journal’s impact and the hybrid status are the most important factors for the level of APCs. However, the relationship between APC and SNIP is different for open-access journals and hybrid journals.

The journal’s impact is crucial for the level of APCs in open-access journals, whereas it little alters APCs for publications in hybrid-journals. This paper contributes to the emerging literature initiated by the “Pay It Forward”-study conducted at the University of California Libraries.

It sets the foundations for the assessment whether the large-scale open-access transformation of scientific journals is a financially viable way for each research institution in general and universities in particular.

URL : APCs – Mirroring the impact factor or legacy of the subscription-based model?


Post-publication peer review in biomedical journals: overcoming obstacles and disincentives to knowledge sharing

Authors : Valerie Matarese, Karen Shashok

The importance of post-publication peer review (PPPR) as a type of knowledge exchange has been emphasized by several authorities in research publishing, yet biomedical journals do not always facilitate this type of publication.

Here we report our experience publishing a commentary intended to offer constructive feedback on a previously published article. We found that publishing our comment required more time and effort than foreseen, because of obstacles encountered at some journals.

Using our professional experience as authors’ editors and our knowledge of publication policies as a starting point, we reflect on the probable reasons behind these obstacles, and suggest ways in which journals could make PPPR easier. In addition, we argue that PPPR should be more explicitly valued and rewarded in biomedical disciplines, and suggest how these publications could be included in research evaluations.

Eliminating obstacles and disincentives to PPPR is essential in light of the key roles of post-publication analysis and commentary in drawing attention to shortcomings in published articles that were overlooked during pre-publication peer review.

URL : Post-publication peer review in biomedical journals: overcoming obstacles and disincentives to knowledge sharing