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 firstname.lastname@example.org and get the ball rolling...