Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Medical journal backs away from OA

Philip Davis, End of Free Access, The Scholarly Kitchen, February 26, 2009.

... The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), a prestigious title in continuous publication since 1924, implemented a subscription model beginning with its January 2009 issue. Original articles, however, continue to be freely available.

JCI began providing free access to all online content in 1996. ...

JCI has an impact factor of 16.9, and is the most highly-cited journal within its category of Medicine, Research and Experimental, according to ISIís 2007 Journal Citation Reports. Its editors reject 9 out of every 10 manuscript submissions.

The journal receives several sources of income from its authors. JCI charges for submission ($70 US), pages charges ($0.22 per word), plus additional fees for each figure ($100), table ($50), supplemental data ($300) and color ($1000). Apparently, these author charges are not sufficient to cover publication costs for a high-quality journal.

Between 1996 and 2003, JCI lost 40% of its institutional subscribers, according to John Hawley, Executive Director of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Responding to my email on his decision to institute online subscriptions, Hawley responded in practical terms:

The decision to institute access control was not a strained one; there are costs to be met, and this was the one route available to determine if they could be met. ...

JCI is primarily a research journal, publishing 15-30 articles per issue with little non-research material. Responding to a question I posted on MEDLIB-L, a listserv for medical librarians, Peter Cole, director of the Aquinas Medical Library in New Jersey responded:

there isnít enough non-research content in JCI to justify purchasing a subscription

Other librarians responded that they reinstated their institutional subscription, some begrudgingly. At a time when many librarians are attempting to make radical cuts in their budget, this news did not come at a welcome time. Leslie Czechowski, Assistant Director of Collections & Technical Services at the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library responded:

we canceled [our subscription] because of free online access. Another year we might have resubscribed, but in times of declining budgets, it will be a more difficult decision ...