I have always been taught the value of publishing scientific findings in high-impact journals and the importance of the “publish or perish” theology. Nature, Science, PNAS, JBC…these are the publications to aim for. However, as I spend more time exploring the scientific blogosphere, I find myself becoming increasingly familiar with the world of open access journals and shared scientific thought. The idea of publishing your results with less up-front scrutiny than found in traditional “peer-reviewed” journals seems quite tempting. Yet, open access certainly does not mean less scrutiny. In fact, by publishing in an open access forum, you are opening up your paper to criticism, suggestions and (more importantly) dialogue with other experts in you field and beyond.
At the present time, the directory of open access journals (DOAJ) has a list of 5,701 journals, including 283 in the field of biology and life science. Here’s a breakdown by discipline:
-Botany (73 journals)
-Cytology (8 journals)
-Genetics (43 journals)
-Microbiology (44 journals)
-Physiology (28 journals)
-Zoology (77 journals)
-Biochemistry (45 journals)
-Biotechnology (33 journals)
One of the more well known subsets of open access journals is the Public Library of Science (PLoS). PLoS is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. While PLoS includes 7 peer reviewed journals, the peer review process does not judge the importance of the work, rather focuses on whether the work is done to high scientific and ethical standards, is appropriately described, and that the data support the conclusions.
The other well known open access science publisher is BioMed Central (BMC). BMC was founded in 2000 and owns and produces in-house six flagship journals: Journal of Biology, Genome Biology, Genome Medicine, Arthritis Research and Therapy, Breast Cancer Research, and Critical Care. It also produces the BMC series of 64 journals covering the fields of biology and medicine, and including the leading titles BMC Biology and BMC Medicine (source wikipedia).
In an effort to promote the open access lifestyle, a world-wide open access week is held annually in various locations throughout the planet. The 4th annual open access week took place from October 18-24 and was promoted through the open access week website and many engaged bloggers. According to the event organizers open access week was an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.
What are your thoughts on open access publications? How familiar are you with them? How have they impacted on your research (either directly or indirectly)? Would you consider a first submission to an open access journal or is this only a choice of last resort?
Below is a video presented on the open access website that gives a brief introduction on open access and focuses on Scholarly/Scientific Impact Metrics in the Open Access Era.