Subscription-based and open access dermatology journals: the publication model dilemma

Medical journalism and the dissemination of peer-reviewed research serve to promote and protect the integrity of scholarship. We evaluated the publication models of dermatology journals to provide a snapshot of the current state of publishing. A total of 106 actively-publishing dermatology journals were identified using the SCImago Journal Rankings (SJR) citation database. Journals were classified by publication model (subscription-based and open-access), publishing company, publisher type (commercial, professional society, and university), MEDLINE-indexing status, and SJR indicator. Of these, 65 (61.32%) dermatology journals were subscription-based and 41 (38.68%) were open-access. In addition, 59 (55.66%) journals were indexed in MEDLINE and most were subscription-based (N=51) and published by commercial entities (N=54). MEDLINE-indexing status was significantly different across publisher types (P<0.001), access-types (P<0.001), and the top four publishers (P=0.016). Distribution of SJR indicator was significantly different across publisher types (P<0.001) and access-types (all journals, P=0.001; indexed journals only, P=0.046). More than 91% of MEDLINE-indexed titles were published by commercial entities, and among them, four companies controlled the vast majority. Discontinuation of access to any one of the top publishers in dermatology can significantly and disproportionately impact education and scholarship.