Open access makes peer reviewed scientific research freely available to all. According to the speakers at this year’s Publication Seminars, open access is growing in popularity. There were 8,817 open access journals included in the Directory of Open Access Journals in March 2013. A little over a year and one-half later in October 2014, there were 10,050. Literally thousands of open access journals are being launched each year. The drawback is that there has also been a rise in the number of predatory open access journals which are not peer reviewed. They collect a payment and do little more than publish the manuscript on a website. Beware when receiving an email inviting a publication because these are often from predatory journals.
Many of the traditional, peer reviewed print journals are starting open access versions with similar titles. For example, the highly regarded British Medical Journal (BMJ) launched BMJ Open in 2011. This development could potentially make it easier to publish. When a manuscript is submitted, a traditional print journal will often offer the opportunity to fast-track publications that narrowly missed being selected for publication to their open access partner journal. This ‘journal cascade’ option should expedite publication as the timely peer review process does not need to be repeated. A drawback is that manuscripts published in open access partner journals will typically, and sometimes unfairly, be considered lower in quality.
With open access week nearing its close, it is clear from the increasing number of open access journals that this growing trend is becoming entrenched. This does not mean that open access is necessarily as revolutionary as this inspiring video of dancers indicates. As Publications Consultant Liz Wager suggested during the Publication Seminars, open access is another business model employed by the publications industry.
For further reading on journal cascades, please refer to:
Cascading Peer-Review — The Future of Open Access?