BioMed Central welcomes objective research into open access publishing. Unfortunately, however, the report published by ALPSP this week ("The Facts about Open Access") contains significant factual inaccuracies. We also disagree with many of the reports interpretations and conclusions. The two most serious problems with the report are that it inaccurately describes the peer review process operated by BioMed Central's journals, and it also draws unjustified conclusions concerning the long-term sustainability of open access journals. The overview of the report incorrectly states that BioMed Central does not operate external peer review on most of its journals. In fact, all of BioMed Central's journals operate full peer review using external peer reviewers. Full peer review is a condition of the inclusion of articles in NIH's PubMed Central, in which all 140+ of the journals published by BioMed Central are archived. The study groups BioMed Central together with Internet Scientific Publications (ISP) as a cohort, and indicates that this was done because over half of the responding open access journals were from these two publishers. ISP and BioMed Central have little in common as publishers, and so the conclusions drawn about BioMed Central by looking at this cohort are not meaningful and are often misleading. For example, the BioMed Central/ISP group of journals is reported to offer online manuscript submission on a lower percentage of journals than other journal groups. The report picks up on this as a surprising finding, suggesting implicitly that open access journals are lagging behind in this regard. In fact, BioMed Central offers online submission of manuscripts on every one of its journals. Not only that, but BioMed Central's manuscript submission system is widely praised by authors, many of whom tell us that it is the best online submission system they have used.
ALPSP Chief Executive Sally Morris comments in her introduction to the report that "Over 40% of the Open Access journals are not yet covering their costs and, unlike subscription journals, there is no reason why the passage of time - evidenced in increasing submissions, quality or impact - should actually change that". She goes on to suggest that this calls into question the sustainability of the open access publishing model. The suggestion that the economics of open access journals are unlikely to improve over time is not supported by the evidence in the report, and runs strongly counter to BioMed Central's direct experience. More at: https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2444.html
Posted by P. Kaufman at October 17, 2005 9:59 AM