Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Comments on the Lancet editorial endorsing OA

If you recall, last month The Lancet published an editorial endorsing OA, endorsing Harvard's OA mandate, and criticizing conventional medical journals:

...What should editors and publishers do? They need to cast dullness to one side, and become leaders instead of followers....They need to pay less attention to their financial bottom line, and commit themselves to a larger, more inspiring mission —to join doctors in working to achieve the highest attainable standards of health for the communities they serve. Most medical publishers have forgotten that mission. It is time they returned to it.

Comments from Lancet readers are now online.  (As with the editorial itself, free registration may be required in order to access full text.) 

From John James, Editor and publisher, AIDS Treatment News:

It is tragic that doctors and others must sacrifice access so that corporate gatekeepers can extort payment for information, while contributing little or nothing to its production....

From Luca De Fiore, Manager, Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore:

Sadly, the position of most International medical publishers is very conservative. Costs/job-cuttings too often produce poor quality publishing....Open access initiatives such as the PLoS or BioMed Central act mainly as "download machines" of sometimes good microchunks of information: doctors need more, they require a systematic approach to healthcare and medicine, to be actually updated and informed. They need modern, appealing paper+internet journals, able to give chances to discover unknown information needs. A decontextualized information hardly becomes knowledge.

From Matthew Cockerill, Publisher, BioMed Central:

It is s good to see The Lancet giving the issue of open access publishing attention, but the following claim is wide of the mark:  "Although BioMed Central has grown substantially during the past 3 years, it has yet to capture the quality end of the research sector. The Public Library of Science has been more successful. It has produced several high-impact journals".  In fact, BioMed Central publishes several journals which are ranked as highly, and in some cases more highly, than PLoS titles....

The SCImago website lists [SCImago Journal Ranks] for just over 13,000 journals. In the 2006 SCImago rankings, the two highest ranked BioMed Central journals (Journal of Biology and Genome Biology) are the top 0.5% of journals in the database, ahead of all 5 PLoS titles listed.

Of the 135 BioMed Central journals listed in the SJR rankings, more than half are ranked in the top 15%, and 50 journals are in the top 10%. These data show that a typical open access journal, whether from BioMed Central or from PLoS, is significantly more highly cited than a typical traditional journal....

The newly launched BMC Research Notes from BioMed Central...[allows] the publication of negative, confirmatory or incremental research results, as long the research has been soundly performed. Public Library of Science and Hindawi have launched similar initiatives, demonstrating that the open access model can do more than simply reproduce the traditional journal system, it can deliver additional options for the sort of research communication that was poorly served by traditional publishing.