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Publishing in 2010: Are we ready for Open Access 2.0?

June 13, 2010 - 19:49 -- Bart G.J. Knols

If you work as a malaria researcher, you publish your work in professional magazines. To inform your colleagues around the world about your findings. And the higher (in terms of impact factor) the journal you publish in, the more your work will be valued. But what's more important, the contribution of the work towards solving the malaria problem or a high impact factor?

Nature, one of the most prestigious journals came under fire last week, when the University of California openly criticised the NPG (Nature Publishing Group) for planned increases in subscription rates (up by 400% in 2011). The University threatened with advice to its staff to no longer submit manuscripts to Nature journals, withdraw from reviewing manuscripts, and give up editorial positions.

And I wonder, what's the big deal here? If you are a student in Gabon, you can't read articles in Nature anyway. You can't go beyond the abstract. If you are not on a computer within an institute that has access rights through the HINARI system, it's the same problem. No access. Even if you have HINARI, access is still limited for many journals.

So, why do we publish in those journals anyway? What's the use of publishing articles that scientists in developing countries cannot read?

Most of the traditional journals have subscription rates that scientists in both the developed and developing world can't afford. So how do we solve this...

Mostly, you send an email to the corresponding author and ask for a pdf of the article. This works very well, because the author is proud that someone requests his/her article. And although many journals forbid you to do this, I have never been told so by an author.

Another way to solve the problem is through Open Access (OA). Here the author pays, not the reader. Great concept, but here's the BIG problem: Many authors in developing countries cannot afford to pay for publishing in OA journals. The Malaria Journal now asks some € 1100 for a full article.

So here's the catch 22: You can't pay for the subscription meaning you cannot have access, and for OA journals you can read but you cannot afford to publish there. Either way, as a scientist in a developing country, you get stuck.

So how to solve this problem? Well, here we introduce Open Access 2.0. And here's how it works.

At MalariaWorld we feel that scientific information should be accessible by all who need it (this is part of our mission), and we also feel that anyone, irrespective of the depth of your pocket, should be able to publish the OA way.

How do we do this? By doing the same as OA journals but taking away the cost for you to publish your article. By having an Editor and an editorial board (similar to the classical way of publishing), and publishing your article on the MalariaWorld platform.

So who pays for the Editor and Editorial Board? A funding organisation. Simple.

How? We'll take your manuscript through peer-review, then make up the final version in a definitive form (pretty much like BioMed Central), and publish online. Pdf's can be downloaded for free by anyone around the world. We'll seek to have your article up on PubMed.

And the impact factor? Well, the first impregnation of a bednet was published in a conference proceedings book, not even as an article... See how this small piece of work transformed the way we do malaria control today. No need for Nature, right?

MalariaWorld has been approached several times by members with the request to publish their work. I believe we can, and we'll do it very differently - at no cost.

Welcome to the MalariaWorld Journal - where you read and write for free, and the impact factor is replaced by the relevance factor

We look forward to seeing pioneers daring to come forward with their manuscripts and publish with us. Almost 6000 malariologists from around the world will see your work.

Send your manuscript to info@malariaworld.org and get the ball rolling...

Comments

Submitted by Clifford Mutero on

Congratulations Bart. The MalariaWorld Journal is a great idea. Being able to share current research findings on malaria without having to pay for it is revolutionary indeed. Best wishes from World Cup country.

Cliff

Clifford Mutero PhD
School of Health Systems and Public Health
University of Pretoria
South Africa

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks Clifford,

The time has come that it is no longer tolerable that scientific information in the field of malaria is not accessible or cannot be contributed to. It has to be for free.

If elimination of malaria is our new goal, we better make sure that what we know is available to all that need it.

Our move was bound to happen - we have been talking about it for quite some time. But now push comes to shove... please spread the word.

Bart

William Jobin's picture
Submitted by William Jobin on

You are one ambitious fellow Bart, with great ideas. Will your journal have full-scale peer review process? Does that usually require a large professional society, or the equivalent?

And would you do book reviews? I have a small book coming out soon, and would love to have it reviewed. Again that requires a group of reviewers, etc. Please let us know the details.

Bill

William Jobin Director of Blue Nile Associates

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Hello Bill,

Yes - we will do book reviews. And yes, we will have full-scale peer-review process. Editors will initially not be on a board, but selected based on their expertise for specific topics addressed in the manuscripts we receive.

We thus aim for a very dynamic and fluid setup.

Reviews will be published alongside the article itself (if accepted), there will be space for discussion, and the broader readership can comment on the reviews as well.

Best of all, no payments involved.

So let's have it and we'll move forward.

Submitted by Ricardo Ataide on

Hi Bart,

I'd like to get your opinion on the online journal "Malaria Research and Treatment" http://www.sage-hindawi.com/journals/mrt/editors.html and on the impact that you think that both the Malaria World Journal and the Malaria Research and Treatment can have on the quality of papers that will eventually be accepted and published.

Keep up the excellent work.

Ricardo

Ricardo Ataíde

Marit Farenhorst's picture
Submitted by Marit Farenhorst on

Congratulations MalariaWorld!
Making the latest research available to developing countries where that knowledge is most needed is a great initiative.
I'll definately keep your journal in mind for my next publication and hope many others will do so too.
Best of luck,
Marit

Marit Farenhorst, PhD
Thorbeckestraat 150
6702 BW Wageningen
The Netherlands

Submitted by Daniel Bridges on

What will be the scope of the journal i.e. absolutely anything to do with malaria? Or is the remit more refined?

Wish I had a manuscript to try and publish at the moment...

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Hi Daniel,

The scope will be 'Malaria'. In the broadest sense. Incl. book reviews, reviews, opinion articles, etc.

Think about us when you have a manuscript lined up...

Bart

Barbara Kirsop's picture
Submitted by Barbara Kirsop on

I would just like to add to this discussion by pointing out two things.

1. There is an alternative way to make essential research available free to all researchers with access to the Internet, and that is by authors depositing copies of their final accepted articles in their Open Access institutional repository (IR). This is a policy now being mandated by some 220 academic organisations (eg MIT, California, Harvard . . .) and funders (eg all UK Research Councils, Wellcome Trust . .), see http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/policysignup/ for details. There are now ~1800 IRs around the world, see http://roar.eprints.org for the full list.

2. Providing OA by publishing in OA journals need not be a cost barrier to developing countries since the following studies have shown that by far the majority of OA journals do NOT charge a publication fee. See:
- http://www.alpsp.org/ngen_public/article.asp?id=200&did=47&aid=270&st=&o...
and
- http://www.sennoma.net/main/archives/2007/12/if_it_wont_sink_in_maybe_we...
and
- http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/11-02-07.htm#list

Figures vary somewhat as the studies are using different databases, but the take home message is that by far the majority of OA journals make no charge, recovering their costs in a variety of other ways. Most journals published by developing countries make no charge – for obvious reasons. For examples, see SciELO, Bioline International or MedKnow publications. It has been calculated that 427 scholarly societies publish 496 fully Open Access peer-reviewed journals. So this is not a new concept.

It is also important to point out that the flow of research information FROM the developing countries is very important in order to strengthen the science base in these regions and to provide global information for the establishment of appropriate development programmes. IRs have been set up at low cost in these regions and download usage is very high, as is usage of the OA journal services listed above.

At any rate, it’s great that MalariaWorld is OA! Congratulations!

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks Barbara,

Point 1: I went to http://roar.eprints.org, then selected Australian Research Online, then typed 'Malaria' and got to the first paper there 'The importance of the spleen in malaria'. Could I get the full paper? No. Only with special access codes from the University of Brisbane...

I tried the repository of Newcastle University: same story...

So if I'm not connected to some University, I get stuck...

2) Interesting report, from which I picked in the introduction the following sentence: 'What does appear clear, however, is that there is a general recognition that we all need to find a better model (or models) to provide wide and speedy access to research findings in the interests of science...'.

I could not agree more, and that's what we are doing here. We are aware that most low-income countries don't pay for OA publishing. But why should developed countries?

Last paragraph: couldn't agree more.

Thanks for your insights, very helpful indeed.

Barbara Kirsop's picture
Submitted by Barbara Kirsop on

Sorry you had a problem with this. But the ROAR database is not a search engine for IRs, it’s a directory of them. It doesn’t provide access to their content.

To search IRs, either use Google Scholar with your keywords (it will turn up papers in IRs on malaria), or OAIster, or the individual repositories themselves.

Hope this helps.

Also, please recall that most OA journals do NOT charge authors for publishing in them so there is no need for authors from developing countries to request a dispensation.

Barbara

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks Barbara - really helpful.

If you could list say 5-10 OA journals where malaria-related articles can be published without paying that would be great.

What about my comment regarding OA publishing costs in developed countries?

Barbara Kirsop's picture
Submitted by Barbara Kirsop on

Hi again, I will come back with a list of some 'malaria' journals that don't make publication charges. Regards 'developed' country authors, recall that most OA journals make no charge to any authors, regardless of country or its development status.

Also, remember that any author can achieve OA for his research by publishing in his/her favourite journal (whether OA or not) and archiving a copy of the article in his/her institutional repository (called 'Green' OA) once it is accepted for publication There are ~1800 interoperable IRs around the world, and most major universities have set them up in order to showcase their research output and to ensure maximum benefits for research. About 80% of publishers agree to this, see the ROMEO web site for details of publisher policies. Green OA practice does not require publishing in an OA journal so there is no problem about checking whether journals make a charge.

I am a champion of this 'Green' route to OA as setting up IRs is low cost and quick to do, and therefore suitable for low income regions.

Regards, Barbara

Osvaldo Marinotti's picture
Submitted by Osvaldo Marinotti on

Congratulations for this initiative. I am sure it will be very successful.
Are there guidelines for how the manuscripts should be organized, formatted, etc?

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks Osvaldo,

We are working on the guidelines but aim to be as flexible as possible at the moment. Soon we will post the requirements on the platform.

Meanwhile, if you have a manuscript you would like us to publish, just send it to info@malariaworld.org and we will see if it fits. Two manuscripts are in so far...

Usa Lek-Uthai's picture
Submitted by Usa Lek-Uthai on

Dear Prof. Dr Bart,
Congatulations for the up coming successuful malaria world journal, which is i do agree for this initiative and helpful for the malaria scientists relating to the research studies. However, i myself always have a problem about payment for the publication fee, cost too expensive to the developing country. But kindly from the ISI-JCR paid journal eg; malaria journal (IF=3.0:year 2010), PLoS One (1350 USD/MS, etc, they have complete or partial waivers for the publication fee, it could be requested which is not affected to the review process, but some journal we (University) have to pay for publication access (both access journal and on line). Good news for us, we ll submit to MWJ as soon.;)
Great Greetings again
Usa Lek-Uthai

Usa Lek-Uthai,
Mahidol University,
Bangkok, Thailand

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Dear Usa,

Many thanks for your kind words - we will welcome your manuscripts, and please spread the word about the MWJ to other colleagues in Thailand.

Warm regards,
Bart

Barbara Kirsop's picture
Submitted by Barbara Kirsop on

Usa is certainly not alone. But if authors need to find journals that do not make a publication charge, they can go to the Directory of Open Access Journals and click on 'Authors' and then select the discipline of interest. The list of journals that appears states whether there is a charge or not. See http://www.doaj.org.

I had a job finding which journals were 'malaria' journals, but the very long-established Memorias do Eswaldo Cruz from Brazil (published in English) covers malaria strongly. I assume also the Journal of Vector Bourne Diseases and the Journal of Environmental and Tropical Health and the CDC publication (Eurosurveiiance) are other examples - and none make a charge. But an amateur search would suggest MWJ is going to fill a needy gap.

As I mentioned before, authors can always publish in their favourite toll access journal and archive a copy of their final accepted article in any of the ~1800 Institutional Repositories at Universities and Institutes around the world, thus providing free open access to all, see http://roar.eprints.org.

Barbara Kirsop's picture
Submitted by Barbara Kirsop on

Hello again, I have just noticed, thanks to the SciDevNet web site (http://www.scidev.net/en/news/human-migration-maps-reveal-global-flow-of...), that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which is a non-OA journal, does however provide free access online ahead of the printed publication. And one of the papers that SciDevNet highlighted is about malaria, see http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/07/1002971107.full.pdf+html?si....
Hope this is of interest to you malaria-people.
Regards,
Barbara

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Dear Barbara,

PNAS offers the option to provide the paper in open access format at (much extra cost). It is up to the author to decide if he/she wants everybody to see the paper or only those that subscribe to PNAS.

So - the journal does not give free access unless the authors have paid for this...

Bart

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

On behalf of the whole MW team I am happy to report that the first articles of the MalariaWorld Journal have now been uploaded. Author guidelines have been added, and we welcome your manuscripts. Check out 'MWJ' in the top bar for more.