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April 8, 2008

The University of Illinois is Now a Member of BioMed Central

News that many of you have been eagerly awaiting!

The University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana is now a Supporting Member of the open access publisher, BioMed Central.

What this means is that when you submit a journal article for publication in one of nearly 200 BMC titles, you will receive a 15% discount off the article processing charge!

Here's a list of the BMC titles:
This discount also applies to articles submitted to Chemistry Central and to PhysMath Central

Here's a list of the article processing charges for the various BMC journals (before discount):
For most of the journals, the fee is $1690, but may be as high as $2685 or as low as $500. A few are even free.

Many of the BMC journals have already earned quite respectable Impact Factors. See:
e.g., Genome Biology (7.17); BMC Bioinformatics (3.62); BMC Biology (4.43); BMC Evolutionary Biology (4.46)

Why should you consider publishing in a BMC journal?
First of all, know that all research submitted will receive rigorous and rapid peer review. If the article is accepted:

Papers published by our colleagues:
The University of Illinois' "homepage" lists papers that were published in BMC jouranls by U of I authors in the last year -- at this point 30 research articles, software, protocols, etc:
For your interest, here's the U of I-Chicago's home page:

Submitting a paper:

If you are on campus within our recognized IP range when submitting a manuscript you will be identified as belonging to a member institution and automatically granted a 15% discount on article processing charges If you are at home or at an external terminal when submitting your paper, you can still claim this discount by stating that you are a affiliated with the U of I. Papers may be submitted either via a journal home page or via

Posted by florador at 3:56 PM

June 12, 2007

NPG launches Two New Websites: Nature Reports Climate Change and Nature Reports Stem Cells

From Knowledgespeak (June 12)

Scientific publisher Nature Publishing Group (NPG), UK, has announced the launch of two new websites - Nature Reports Climate Change and Nature Reports Stem Cells. The Nature Reports sites highlight topical science issues by providing thorough investigative reporting based on peer-reviewed, primary research.

The new websites will report ‘the science behind the news, the news behind the science,’ and explore the social, political and economic implications of the highlighted topic. Users of all levels of expertise, from scientists, journalists and students, to members of the general public, can access the content, a vast majority of which is freely available. Over the coming months, both Nature Reports: Stem Cells and Nature Reports Climate Change hope to develop further with increased community interactions, resources and media.

The topics for discussion in the Nature Reports series were chosen based on the most popular search terms run on in 2006. The first in the series- Nature Reports Avian Flu- was launched in March 2007.

Nature news release (pdf).

Posted by florador at 1:18 PM

January 25, 2007

Publish Videos of Your Experiments Online - for Free

The Journal of Visualized Experiments (2006-) is truly living up to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. This online, open access journal is

publishing visualized (video-based) biological research studies. This publication aims to solve some of the most difficult problems in the contemporary life science research:
  • low transparency and reproducibility of biological experiments
  • time-consuming learning of experimental techniques

Each video-article will include step-by-step instructions on an experiment, a demonstration of equipment and reagents, and a short discussion by experts describing possible technical problems and modifications. Every scientist planning on a biological experiment will be able to access the database, find videos relevant to their work, and use them as protocols. High effectiveness of visualized instructions, as compared to currently used written protocols, will decrease failure rates for biological experiments, and, thus, facilitate significant savings in time and cost. It will also increase reproducibility of published experiments, one of the main problems in the current life science research.

There is no charge to authors to submit or have their protocols published. Each submission will be reviewed by members of an editorial board, but, at this time, will not be rigorously peer-reviewed (that will come later). The time lapse from the date of submission to the date of publication should be no longer than 7-14 days. At the present time, there are 17 videos available in JoVE.

Of course, researchers have been putting their videos up on their personal websites and in sites such as YouTube. See for yourself: search for microarray in YouTube or in GoogleVideo.

Posted by florador at 10:14 AM

January 9, 2007

Open Access: the View from a Scholarly Society's Journal Editor

Starting with the January 2007 issue of the journal Plant Physiology, all articles published by members of the scholarly society that publishes the journal, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), are open access at no additional cost to the member. Of the 43 articles in the January issue, 25 are freely available to all scholars with no lag period. Some of these may have been authored by non-members who paid $1,000* in order to provide open access to their article, but I suspect not many. [*$1000 if the corresponding author's institution does not subscribe to Plant Physiology, if it does subscribe it is $500.]

The editor of the journal, Donald Ort of the University of Illinois, wrote an editorial for the ASPB News, "Real-Time Plant Physiology: My View of What’s in It for Authors, the Journal, and ASPB". Following several avenues of analysis, he concludes that open access articles are more highly read than non-open access articles, which in turn he feels will enhance the stature of the journal. He also presents an interesting table listing the top 10 plant research journals and their open access option. Most have a provision for open access if the author pays; Plant Physiology will be the only one that offers free open access publishing to it's member authors. Of course, another perk with offering free open access publishing to members might be a jump in the membership count.

Interestingly, the editorial that Ort wrote for the ASPB Newsletter was only available online to members until he deposited it in the University of Illinois' digitial repository, IDEALS, where it is now freely available to all. I would recommend it to the editors of other scholarly journals.

It can also be noted that the ASPB has for several years provided free online access to The Arabidopsis Book through a collaboration with BioOne.

Posted by florador at 3:56 PM

December 26, 2006

Nature Ends Open Peer Review Experiment

Scientific journal Nature has announced plans to abandon an online experiment, which allowed scientists to comment on their peers' research before publication, due to lack of participation.

In a four-month trial, which began in June, a group of select scholars reviewed scientific manuscripts and decided what should appear in print. In the experiment, authors whose manuscripts were selected for traditional peer review could also opt to have them simultaneously posted on the Internet for feedback from scientists.

According to the British publication, although the experiment generated high online traffic, it was ultimately canceled because only a few authors participated and many of the online comments were nothing more than nice work.

Published by an arm of Macmillan Publishers Ltd., Nature is highly selective of the research it publishes. Of the 10,000 papers it receives every year, the journal rejects nearly 60 percent, and only about 7 percent of submissions are published.

From Knowledgespeak, 12/25/06

Posted by florador at 10:33 AM

July 18, 2006

BioMed Central Membership Cancelled at UIUC

Recently the University of Illinois Library chose not to continue its membership in BioMed Central (BMC) This decision was made in consultation with the then-Acting Provost and the Vice-Chancellor for Research. The discussion with the campus administration was precipitated when BMC changed its membership plan. Formerly, there was one type of membership: member institutions paid a modest fee and in return, authors were given free publishing rights in BMC journals. Waiving of the article processing charge is no longer a benefit of the standard 'supporter’ membership.

The discussion with the Provost and Vice-Chancellor revolved around the following questions:

What would we get were we to continue our membership in BMC?

Some faculty have erroneously concluded that a Library membership in BMC would grant them cost-free publishing rights in BMC journals. Although this used to be the case, the new Supporting Membership model does not provide this feature.

BMC offers another type of BMC 'membership' called 'PrePay Membership', which gives individual authors free publishing rights. Under this model, the University would pre-pay the article processing charges upfront, based on the number of successful submissions it expects its authors to make. The more the institution pre-pays, the lower the APC that is charged against the pre-paid account. Under this plan, the individual researcher would pay nothing; the University would pick up the APC bill ahead of time. So, for example, if the University estimates that there might be 30 submissions to BMC from UIUC, it would pre-pay around $30,000 to BMC. We do not feel this is a sustainable model, and are not considering becoming a 'prepay member' of BMC. To learn more about the types of BMC memberships, see:

There are a handful of other BMC-published journals for which we don't hold subscriptions -- the research articles in most of these are open access, but the reviews and commentaries are not. See this page for a list of the titles that UIUC has access to from BMC:

In 2004 Nature held a forum on the issue of Open Access. Don King and Carol Tenopir analyzed the pros and cons of the open access system as well as its long-term sustainability. See:

Ultimately, if we are to have 'open access', someone has to pay. This is just the opening salvo of a conversation that will surely span many months, and occur in many venues. We welcome hearing your comments on this issue.

A final word...
If you are interested in making your research more accessbile -- more widely read and cited -- consider putting a copy of it in the UIUC scholarly respository, IDEALS. Or, if appropriate, put it in the NIH respository, PubMed Central or some other subject-based resource. Over 90% of the "traditional" publishers will allow you to do this, so go ahead and publish where you like, but later consider putting the final version of the articles in one of these publically accessible repositories. If you do this, the whole world will be able to read and profit from your research!

Posted by florador at 3:23 PM

February 10, 2006

A New Model for Peer Review? Peer Reviewers Comments are Open for All to See in New Biology Journal

BioMed Central has launched Biology Direct, a new online open access journal with a novel system of peer review. The journal will operate completely open peer review, with named peer reviewers' reports published alongside each article. The autho's rebuttals to the reviewers comments are also published. The journal also takes the innovative step of requiring that the author approach Biology Direct Editorial Board members directly to obtain their agreement to review the manuscript or to nominate alternative reviewers.

Biology Direct launches with publications in the fields of Systems Biology, Computational Biology, and Evolutionary Biology, with an Immunology section to follow soon. The journal considers original research articles, hypotheses, and reviews and will eventually cover the full spectrum of biology.

Biology Direct is led by Editors-in-Chief David J Lipman, Director of the National Center Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at NIH, USA; Eugene V Koonin, Senior Investigator at NCBI; and Laura Landweber, Associate Professor at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.

For more information about the journal or about how to submit a manuscript to the journal, visit the Biology Direct website. [Largely taken from a BioMed Central press release.]

Posted by florador at 3:25 PM

December 22, 2005

BioMed Central Journals & Impact Factors

Have you been thinking of publishing in one of the BioMed Central open access journals, but were concerned because they might not be construed as a quality journal? One measure of the quality of a journal is it's Impact Factor, a value calculated by ISI from journals that they track (index) in their citation indexes such as Science Citation Index (which is available to UIUC on the web as Web of Science.) The impact factors are reported in Journal Citation Reports. ISI does not track all journals, but rather relies on a board of scientists to select which journals to index. Thus, to be chosen as a journal that ISI will index is something of a coup.

BioMed Central, one of the largest publishers of open access journals, has created a site where they list the BMC titles that are being indexed by ISI. As reported elsewhere, one of the BMC journals, BMC Bioinformatics, recently received nearly the same impact factor as the most well established journal is this field, Bioinformatics. This suggests that open access journals are being widely read and cited by others...which, after all, is a goal of most researchers.

Also posted to the Scholarly Communication newsletter.

Posted by florador at 1:49 PM

November 4, 2005

Oxford Open: Publish in Oxford University Press journals in an Open Access Mode.

Select Oxford University Press journals allow authors to, for an extra fee, publish their articles in the journal in an open access mode. This allows anyone in the world access to the article, whether they have an online subscription to the journal, or not. The result is greater visibility and readership of your article!

An analysis after just 3 months shows that many researchers, particularly in the biomedical sciences, are using this option. See:

If the University of Illinois subscribes to the journal, the fee for making your article open access is currently $1500. If we do not subscribe, the fee is $2800.

To see a list of journals for which this is an option, please go to:

Posted by florador at 4:11 PM

June 30, 2005

Free Personal Subscriptions to "Cell"

For some reason known only to them, Cell Press (an imprint of Elsevier) is offering free personal print subscriptions for the journal, CELL, to faculty and students affiliated with institutions that have site licences for the electronic version of Cell! The UIUC Library, has, of course, paid for a site license for UIUC. Outside of this deal, an individual print subscription to Cell costs $165 for 2005.

So, if you'd like to sign up to receive a free personal subscription to Cell, please go to this site:
and fill in the requested information.

By the way, if you'd like to receive emailed "alerts" with the Table of Contents of Cell, you may do this by signing up for a table of contents alert at the Cell site or at the ScienceDirect site (where you can sign up for topic or TOC alerts for any of nearly 2000 Elsevier journals). When you get the TOC emails, they will have links for each article that will take you directly to the electronic version of the article. Most journals that are available electronically now offer this service, which deliver the TOC much more quickly than is possible via Current Contents or Web of Science alerts.

Posted by at 1:56 PM