The value of a journal is the community it creates, not the papers it publishes | Impact of Social Sciences

“Initially PLOS ONE was a “club” of radicals who could afford to experiment with a new publishing model. This resulted in a higher than expected initial JIF and a massive influx of new authors, who were attracted to this (now) “proven” publishing model. Consequently, article processing times expanded (congestion), the initial sense of community became harder to maintain and the influx of articles ultimately reduced the JIF, leading to the flight of authors that were just seeking access to the prestige of the journal. The journal then shifted from a community (if not properly a knowledge club, as the disciplines were too disparate) to a social network market, which it could not sustain.

Scientific Reports follows a similar trajectory, but for different reasons. Initial submissions were not driven by a desire to be radical or progressive, as the concept of a mega-journal was already proven. Rather, Scientific Reports launched as a social network market, providing access to the prestige of the Nature brand. This model in turn became unsustainable, as the journal developed its own reputation and niche, which had been carefully planned through the naming (which does not include the name “Nature”) to avoid any dilution of the existing Nature brand.


What does this mean for Open Access and for initiatives like PlanS? Note that the club-theoretic model is ambivalent about how payments are made. We see similar patterns of growth and decline for subscription and APC journals alike. However the model is arguably better configured to understand how to create knowledge-value efficiently, because it asks how a community can be created and sustained, and how open access to membership can both stimulate and dilute knowledge-making itself. In our next post, we will discuss the implications of our model for planning a transition to full open access.”

Scholarly Communication and Open Access in Psychology: Current Considerations for Researchers

Abstract:  Scholarly communication and open access practices in psychological science are rapidly evolving. However, most published works that focus on scholarly communication issues do not target the specific discipline, and instead take a more “one size fits all” approach. When it comes to scholarly communication, practices and traditions vary greatly across the disciplines. It is important to look at issues such as open access (of all types), reproducibility, research data management, citation metrics, the emergence of preprint options, the evolution of new peer review models, coauthorship conventions, and use of scholarly networking sites such as ResearchGate and from a disciplinary perspective. Important issues in scholarly publishing for psychology include uptake of authors’ use of open access megajournals, how open science is represented in psychology journals, challenges of interdisciplinarity, and how authors avail themselves of green and gold open access strategies. This overview presents a discipline-focused treatment of selected scholarly communication topics that will allow psychology researchers and others to get up to speed on this expansive topic. Further study into researcher behavior in terms of scholarly communication in psychology would create more understanding of existing culture as well as provide early career researchers with a more effective roadmap to the current landscape. As no other single work provides a study of scholarly communication and open access in psychology, this work aims to partially fill that niche.

‘No comment’? A study of commenting on PLOS articles – Simon Wakeling, Peter Willett, Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry, Stephen Pinfield, Valerie Spezi, Marc Bonne, Christina Founti, Itzelle Medina Perea, 2019

Abstract:  Article–commenting functionality allows users to add publicly 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, open-access 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 article 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 are 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.

Who are you writing for? The role of community membership on authors’ decisions to publish in open access mega-journals | Impact of Social Sciences

“Open Access mega-journals have in some academic disciplines become a key channel for communicating research. In others, however, they remain unknown. Drawing on evidence from a series of focus groups, Jenny Fry and Simon Wakeling explore how authors’ perceptions of mega-journals differ across disciplines and are shaped by motivations associated with the multiple communities they function within….”

Publishing speed and acceptance rates of open access megajournals | Online Information Review | Ahead of Print

“Purpose. The purpose of this paper is to look at two particular aspects of open access megajournals, a new type of scholarly journals. Such journals only review for scientific soundness and leave the judgment of scientific impact to the readers. The two leading journals currently each publish more than 20,000 articles per year. The publishing speed of such journals and acceptance rates of such journals are the topics of the study.

Design/methodology/approach. Submission, acceptance and publication dates for a sample of articles in 12 megajournals were manually extracted from the articles. Information about acceptance rates was obtained using web searches of journal home pages, editorials, blogs, etc.

Findings. The time from submission to publication varies a lot, with engineering megajournals publishing much more rapidly. But on average it takes almost half a year to get published, particularly in the high-volume biomedical journals. As some of the journals have grown in publication volume, the average review time has increased by almost two months. Acceptance rates have slightly decreased over the past five years, and are now in the range of 50–55 percent.

Originality/value. This is the first empirical study of how long it takes to get published in megajournals and it highlights a clear increase of around two months in publishing. Currently, the review process in the biomedical megajournals takes as long as in regular more selective journals in the same fields. Possible explanations could be increasing difficulties in finding willing and motivated reviewers and in a higher share of submissions from developing countries….”

Phil Davis: Future of the OA Megajournal – The Scholarly Kitchen

“On June 1st, 2011, Peter Binfield, then publisher of PLOS ONE, made a bold and shocking prediction at the Society of Scholarly Publishing annual meeting: I believe we have entered the era of the OA mega journal,” adding, “Some basic modeling predicts that in 2016, almost 50% of the STM literature could be published in approximately 100 mega journals…Content will rapidly concentrate into a small number of very large titles. Filtering based solely on Journal name will disappear and will be replaced with new metrics. The content currently being published in the universe of 25,000 journals will presumably start to dry up. If you were not present for that pre-meeting workshop, you likely heard it repeated throughout the conference. The open access (OA) megajournal was taking over STM publishing and Binfield had data to prove it. PLOS ONE, which had received its first 2010 Impact Factor (4.351) the previous summer, was exploding with new submissions. In a few weeks, the journal would receive its second Impact Factor (4.411), a confirmation that its model was both wildly successful and dangerously competitive. PLOS had discovered the future of STM publishing and others had better get on board or get out of the way….”

Guest Editorial: Open Access: Principles, Practice, and Potential – ACS Omega (ACS Publications)

“As working scientists, many of us become imbued (by processes of which few are conscious) with the principles articulated by Robert Merton that hold science to be a collective and cumulative activity in which the core responsibility is to communicate knowledge—even if it is distorted by career incentives that focus less on the substance of our accomplishments than where they are published. The duty of communication is primarily to other scholars, but from the formation of the very first learned societies the scientific community has a sense of its public obligations.

That sense of duty has been sharpened by the arrival of open access and extended by governments seeking better returns on public investment in research. The Finch report’s statement in 2012 that “The principle that the results of research that has been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain is a compelling one, and fundamentally unanswerable” captured the zeitgeist and was accepted without demur by the UK government.(4) Similar proclamations have been made by administrations in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.

Of course, words are cheaper than actions, and open access has yet to deliver fully on the promise of providing faster, fairer, and cheaper access to research information. In part this is due to historical baggage. The entanglement of the principles of scholarly communication with increased commercializm in publishing and with rising managerialism in university governance has intensified our preoccupation with journal-based measures of prestige. That has retarded the dissemination of knowledge as authors chase impact factors and locked in the market advantages of the largest publishers.(2)”

Pushing the boundaries: Science Advances | Science Advances

Science Advances was launched on February 2015 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in San Jose, California, as the online, open-access expansion of Science magazine. Science Advances, like its older sibling, covers the full gamut of scientific disciplines, including (but not limited to) earth and space sciences; ecology, evolution, and environmental biology; biomedical, biological, and neuroscience; social sciences; and chemical, computational, mathematical, and physical sciences as well as applied sciences and engineering. We publish research articles and reviews that illuminate the leading edge of national and international research, both within and across scientific disciplines….”