Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Profile of BMC journals and the business value of OA

Donna Howell, Online Journals Gain Readers, Respect, Investor's Business Daily, February 14, 2008.

... The Malaria Journal recently became the most-cited publication in tropical medicine. But it operates entirely online, freely viewable, by necessity. For researchers in the developing world where malaria's a big problem, says editor Marcel Hommel, the cost and logistics of a paper-based journal would be prohibitive.

Within the World Health Organization, officials scour medical journals every week for new papers on malaria. Most open-access research gets reviewed and disseminated almost immediately.

If a paper is not open access if it can't be viewed immediately at no cost it's less apt to get looked at, Hommel says. He adds that even traditional research journals like Nature and Science tend to make their malaria studies open access.

The Malaria Journal is now one of nearly 200 peer-reviewed open-access journals freely viewable via BioMed Central, an open-access publishing house based in London that has put about 30,000 studies into print online since starting in 1999. Some scientific societies outsource their journal publishing largely to BioMed Central. Others, like the Malaria Journal, do their own prep work with the help of BioMed Central.

"We were the first publisher to say, 'We're never going to charge for research, we think it makes sense in the age of the Internet for research to be free,'" said BioMed Central Publisher Matthew Cockerill. "Having pioneered this model, it's gotten a huge amount of support from groups in the scientific community."

More but not all traditional journal publishers have embraced the idea, he says.

Successes like the Malaria Journal are helping soften opposition, he says. "It's the dominant journal in the field of tropical medicine, proving beyond a doubt the qualitative and economic viability of the open-access model." ...