Eight facts and myths about open access journals: an experience of eight years and eighty journals
Sahu, DK (2009) Eight facts and myths about open access journals: an experience of eight years and eighty journals. In: Open Access to Science Publications: Policy perspective, Opportunities and Challenges, 24 March 2009, New Delhi, India.
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FACT: 1. Most Indian journals have low impact: In the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) 2007, only 49 journals were from India (0.76% of all journals in JCR and 2.6% of all Indian A&I covered journals listed in Ulrich's Periodical Directory). Average Impact Factor for the Indian journals was 0.40. According to SCImago Country Rank, India was ranked 143rd out of 233 countries based on Cites per Doc if all the documents published in 2007were taken into consideration. The same ranking dropped down to 42nd out of 64 if countries with at least 1000 documents in the year were taken into consideration. The trend, however, is changing with open access journal publishing in the country, particularly in the area of medicine and the editors of the journals in other disciplines can learn from this experience. MYTHS: 2. OA journals are not peer reviewed: Access policy is not related to the peer-review policy. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which lists only peer-reviewed journals, has nearly 4000 journals now. Of 4793 OA journals in OpenJGate, 2607 are classified as peer-reviewed. On the other hand, in JCR (Ulrich’s, March 2009 data) of 7483 non-OA journals nearly 8% are not peer-reviewed. Medknow has shown that OA journals are at par with any other journal in terms of their peer-review process as can also be judged from the unique ‘Reviewer Institution Mapping’. 3. It is costly for a journal to go online: For a society / association owned journal, which has to provide a print copy to its members, it is usually not very hard to go online with an additional expenditure of 2-8% over its annual expenditure. Apart from the commercial services, such as those provided by Medknow, there are tools like Open Journal System (OJS) and services such as Bioline International, SCIELO, and MedInd to help journals go online. 4. OA journal is one which charge author for publication: Bill Hooker in December 2007 showed that 62% of DOAJ journals did not charge author-side fee (information about fee not available for another 15% journals). Most journals from the developing countries do not charge author side fee and out of 82 journals published by Medknow only 4 charge any kind of fee. In contrast, many of the traditional access (TA) journals not only charge the readers, but even the authors to reproduce their own work in future publication(s). 5. OA journals disappear faster than TA journals: Analysis from the Ulrich's Periodical Directory shows that while 8.3% of TA journals launched in the year 2000 have ceased publication. On the other hand, all but 3 out of 166 OA journals started in the same year are still operational. No OA journal started in year 2003 and 2005 have ceased publication till date, whereas 172 (out of 3382) and 109 (out of 4497) TA journals, started in those years respectively, are not functioning now. 6. Converting all journals to OA will solve access problem in India: Good work done in India is usually not published in the Indian journals and hence converting all the Indian journals to OA will not make the Indian research available to the Indians. OA archiving has to complement OA journal publishing. 7. OA journals have low impact: OA journals, when compared to older TA journals, erroneously show low citation impact. It is also believed that most OA journals are not indexed with Science Citation Index (SCI) and other important bibliographic databases. Many OA journals are now getting indexed with SCI; we have 16 journals indexed with SCI now as against just 2 journals a couple of years back. We have also shown that citations increase manifold when a TA journal opt for online free access. OA Indian journals published by Medknow have shown higher increase in the citations compared to non-OA journals published from the country. 8. Free access will result in loss of revenue: Over the last eight years, we have shown that by providing free access to the journals we are not losing the revenue from the subscriptions to the print editions. Majority of the OA journals continue to receive subscriptions for the print versions and the number of subscriptions have steadily increased over the years. The journals also benefit from the additional revenue from the advertisements on the websites.
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