Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Submission rates at OA journals

Heather Morrison, Transitioning to open access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 7, 2006. Excerpt:
Prediction (hypothesis): Journals with strong support for open access, high quality and no or reasonable processing fees will see increasing article submissions. Strong support for open access could mean either open access publishing, or very friendly, easy to find, understand and follow self-archiving policies.

Rationale: the impact of the growing OA requirement policies (mandates) by funders and universities, combined with increased researcher awareness of OA due to both the mandates and educational efforts by librarians and others, will cause researchers to increasingly seek OA publishing venues over the next few years. Journals that are seen to be both of high quality and OA-friendly, will meet these criteria....

Strong support for open access is a good strategy to ensure ongoing quality of journals and support from libraries. In other words, it's a good business decision! Lukewarm support - or opposition - is something else...

Comment. I have no doubt that author preference for OA will grow in proportion to author understanding of OA, and that this will show up both in self-archiving and submissions to OA journals. If we focus on submissions to OA journals, however, then prestige must enter as another key variable. OA alone will not change submission rates much unless supported by prestige. Because most OA journals are new, they don't yet have prestige in proportion to their quality. But this will change. As the prestige of high-quality OA journals grows, then the combination of that prestige and the intrinsic advantages of OA will surpass the advantages of prestigious non-OA journals and this will be reflected in submission rates. For more on these lines, see SOAN for March 2005:

For authors, the only reason to submit work to a TA [toll access] journal is its prestige. In every other way, TA journals are inferior to OA journals because they limit an author's audience and impact. OA journals will start to draw submissions away from top TA journals as soon as they approach them in prestige. And by the time they equal them in prestige, the best TA journals will have lost their one remaining competitive advantage.

There's already some evidence that converting to OA or shortening embargoes increases submissions (at BMJ, JPGM, JMLA, MBC, and Medknow journals generally). I'll say more about this in an upcoming issue of SOAN and in the meantime would appreciate pointers to any additional anecdotes or evidence.