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Open-access publication is very useful for researchers from resource poor areas as there is no cost to access published research. Many institutions or researchers cannot afford to pay for expensive research journals. In this model, researchers pay a fee to have their papers published, which means that those needing to access the research do not have to pay. In some cases, these journals can waive publication fees for those researchers who do not have funds to pay for publication. A good example, the PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials, is an important source of clinical research study data, which is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. See this site here: PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials What do you think of this model of publication? Do you think this improves access? Does it potentially impact on quality? Do you use this resource in your current research planning?
An article on the Guardian newspaper site picks up on this issue: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2013/jan/17/open-access-publishing-science-paywall-immoral
This site could be of interest: http://www.openaccessweek.org
I think the perception is that open access journals have a lower impact factor than the traditional journals. However if you review the impact factor listings for 2011 you will see that many open access journals have equivalent, if not higher impact factors, than their traditional and more established counterparts. For instance, many people would be thrilled to publish in the BMJ, but it actually has a lower impact factor than PLOS Medicine (14 and 16 respectively). I imagine this myth occurred during the early days of the Open Access movement as it takes some time to establish a good impact factor. BMJ's new open access publication BMJ OPEN does not currently have an impact factor because it is less than 2 years old. However there have been some great articles published in it so it will be interesting to see the impact factor when it is calculated.
So even if you are being pressured to publish in high impact journals, it certainly does not mean that this cannot be in an open access journal with all the benefits that this brings. Besides the open access element I find the option for online comment and discussion really exciting.
That is an excellent point. What are the experiences of other researchers who have either used open-access publications, or tried to publish this way? Do you think there is an issue with the impact factor of these journals? How did you find the peer review quality?
One of the major challenges we have had in open-access publication was the perception from senior researchers that open-access = poor peer review and lower standards. My personal experience is that the peer review was very good, very quick, and much more detailed than from some of the more traditional 'high impact' journals who tended to give very abrupt rejections. In my experience, the peer reviews from the open-access journals were much more detailed about what could be done to improve papers that were found to be a bit weak.
Another problem with some of the open-access journals is that their stated journal impact factors are much lower than the traditional, high impact journals. I think this is changing but, unfortunately, the attitudes of some senior researchers may be more difficult to change. I do know that there are some very poor open-access journals, and I don't know how you tell which those are?