In addition to making content free for readers, open access publishing has other benefits. For authors who have longer-than-typical manuscripts or color images and videos to accompany their work, such extra content can be loaded without the publication paying extra for it. “Longer manuscripts that might have required a supplement in the past may be published at conventional rates, which are typically much less expensive than supplement rates,” said D. Bradley Welling, MD, PhD, the editor in chief of Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology, the OA journal of The Triological Society and the first OA peer-reviewed journal associated with a major otolaryngology academic organization.
The move to OA has been driven by research organizations and funders that require studies and data be published in an open forum. Some funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, require that research conducted under their grants be published in OA journals. “Funding may come from the grant or the home institution,” said Dr. Welling.
While there are many legitimate open access publishers, there is a growing number of publications considered predatory, questionable, or illegitimate. These titles will take an author’s money and submission and may publish their work as is without cycling it through the peer review or editing processes. “There’s no question there are some journals that do no peer review, and claim that they do,” said Joseph Esposito, a New York-based STEM publishing consultant.
A number of these titles may even list a peer review board, but sometimes the people listed aren’t aware their names and titles are being used this way. “I get a request almost every day to be on the peer review board of some open access journal,” said Dr. Welling, noting that many of these journals have names that are very similar to more established titles. “It’s a continual phishing experience, to be honest,” he added.
Such titles, both online and in print, are most likely to attract submissions from researchers who are younger, who live overseas, and/or who haven’t conducted their own research on which journals to submit to. This is a crucial step (See “Is That Open Access Journal Legitimate?” below).
An Addition to the Publishing Landscape
Open access is just another option in which to publish scientific research, say experts. “It’s the way of publishing now,” added Esposito. “It’s not binary, not a question of predatory publishing versus all others. Open access is just an added service that publishing provides. It’s simply part of the landscape today.”