Open access journals are vanishing from the web, Internet Archive stands ready to fill in the gaps

The advent of Open access journals was expected to revolutionize the academic journal publication sector. Various factors were driving the rise of open access journals, especially in the field of scientific studies. Some of the most common factors, such as time required to get published in conventional peer-reviewed journals or the high rate of rejections, were long-standing challenges for academicians, which Open access journals promised to resolve. Harnessing the benefits of digital communication technologies for faster discovery and dissemination of one’s content was another compelling attraction that these Journals offered. It must be noted that unlike subscription-based journals, Open access journals literally provided free access to anybody, thereby making the platforms more egalitarian.

However, despite these positives, there has been a considerable reduction in open access journals that has warranted special attention from the academic circle. Some of the top findings of disappearing Open access Journals are:

One of the key factors for the longevity of any such services is the funding that goes behind it. Subscription-based journals have a revenue model for sustenance. The digital formats for such journals utilize services like JSTOR or other such aggregators for global subscription bases that help these services survive. Open access journals rely heavily on grants or other forms of external funding to survive. Those backed by well-established Trusts or funding agencies have a higher chance of surviving in the long run, while those who fail to develop a steady stream of funding eventually have to shut down.

A major shortcoming in the case of Open access journals is the lack of archiving. According to Internet Archive, a not for profit organization dedicated to providing free content to users, 18 percent of all open access articles since 1945 (that amount to over three million articles), are not independently archived by any third-party preservation organization, other than the publishers themselves. Archiving is an integral part of academic articles and is critical for its discoverability in the long run.

This problem is further accentuated by the fact that many of these platforms have stringent anti-crawling measures and many small publishers do not use simple/common mechanisms like OAI-PMH and the ‘citation_pdf_url’ HTML meta tag to identify full-text content. This makes it difficult for third part discovery platforms to integrate these contents in their archives.

Another major concern is the challenges with Gold open access journal contents, in which the authors have to bear the costs of publication. In contrast, authors often prefer Green Open access or Hybrid Open access models where the publication cost is often partially mitigated for the authors. This affects the quality of content on different Open access platforms and thereby their attractiveness and longevity.

However, this is not to say that Open access journals are altogether dying off. There are still numerous journals experimenting with newer models. Often, the advent of a new and more popular one triggers the demise of an extant platform over time loses credence.

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Elsevier authorize the Researchers to access its pay walled journals

The conflict between Elsevier, the world’s biggest publisher of scientific journals, and Germany’s entire university system has dragged on since 2015. However, recently Elsevier has approved continuous access to its paywalled journals for researchers at around 200 German universities and other research institutes that had refused earlier to renew their individual subscriptions. The nationwide deal sought by scientists includes an open-access option, under which all corresponding authors affiliated with German institutions would be allowed to make their papers open to read and share by anyone in the world. This would be a signpost for global efforts to make the results of publicly funded research immediately and freely available to scientists.

Journal for “controversial ideas” to be launched next year

A “controversial ideas” journal where researchers can publish articles under pseudonyms will be launched next year by an Oxford University academic. The new journal is a response to a rise in researchers being criticised and silenced by those who disagree with them, according to Jeff McMahan, a professor of moral philosophy at Oxford.

Reference Link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/11/12/controversial-ideas-journal-academics-can-publish-pseudonyms/

Peter Lang converts eleven journals to Open Access publications

On 9th March, the publisher, Peter Lang has announced plans to make 11 of its subscription-based journals full open access. IngentaOpen, the new Open Access platform, will provide free online access to these journal articles, starting with each journal’s first issue of 2018 with a CC-BY license. Kelly Shergill, CEO of Peter Lang, has expressed his happiness about the step and hoped that the transition would benefit all parties.

Reference link: http://www.stm-publishing.com/peter-lang-converts-eleven-journals-to-open-access-publications/

Journals Communication Hub launched by Taylor & Francis Group

For ensuring effective communication among the journal Editors and authors, the Taylor & Francis group has launched a query management system, known as Journals Communication Hub. By registering, the authors will receive journal specific email addresses, through which the complete communication process of production, implementation and peer review will take place.

Reference Link: http://editorresources.taylorandfrancisgroup.com/introducing-the-journals-communication-hub/

ACSESS to join hands with ACCUCOMS to promote its journals

The Alliance of Crop, Soil & Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS) in association with ACCUCOMS enters the Indian subcontinent. It is to bring journals published by it to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Reference Link: http://accucoms.com/news/accucoms-represent-acsess/

Importance of English editing for non-native speaking authors

English is recognized as the lingua franca for scientific publications. This might be considered to be a deterrent for Non-Native English Speaking (NNES) authors because they find it difficult to assemble their thoughts and prepare their manuscripts for submission to the leading journals. Therefore, many new scientific researches or revelations might never come to light.

NNES researchers and authors usually seek international recognition instead of being confined to their national boundaries. Consequently, they opt for international journals in English. However, these journals are very particular about the language structure and a manuscript with poor language is inevitably rejected. Even if the paper is accepted, the journal reviewers will come down hard on any ambiguity in the language and give a negative feedback. In few cases, they can reject the manuscript citing lack of relevance to the journal’s scope.

In this scenario, NNES authors can seek solace in proficient editing services, which can help bring their manuscripts to the required standard. Professional editors can tweak sentences and content to expunge ambiguous statements, so that the research is presented in a clear, lucid, and cogent manner.

Common mistakes by NNES authors

The most common mistakes committed by NNES writers include the following:

  • Sentence structure: They commit mistakes in basic English writing, particularly grammatical mistakes.
  • Clarity: They often face the problem of expressing their ideas in English, which leads to complex and wordy sentences that impede understanding.
  • Subject specific terms: They are often unable to use technical terms appropriately, which might lead to serious fallacies.

The way forward for NNES authors

Rather than being disheartened, NNES authors should take measures to overcome the obstacles on the way to getting published in reputed journals.

Before hiring a professional editing service to review their manuscripts, they need to take care of the following points to communicate their research ideas better through their writing:

  • They should keep the text as simple as possible by reducing the sentence length, vocabulary usage, and complexity.
  • Usage of idioms and phrases should be minimized.
  • The paper should contain only subject-related technical terminologies.
  • The context of the paper should be clear and concise so that the referees build-up an understanding about the subject while reviewing.

These writing guidelines, coupled with the expertise of a professional editor, can go a long way in ensuring publication in renowned journals.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

A fundamental requisite of a publication in any reputed journal is the need to provide readers with unbiased and unambiguous research. Toward this objective, a published article should disclose whether the author or authors had any competing interest or conflict of interest while preparing the article. Consequently, the onus is on the journal to publish such disclosures in the paper so that readers, who include researchers, professionals, practitioners and scholars, are aware of them while evaluating the paper.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), there is a case of “competing interest” or “conflict of interest” when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Such conflict is likely to affect the credibility of the journal as well as that of the author(s).

Conflict of interest may arise from potential relationships or allegiances, or from hostilities against particular groups or organizations. It may occur when a specific factor influences one’s judgments or actions significantly. In such situations, personal gain has an ascendancy over scholarly output.

Today, most journals publish papers that are not only based on the output of the authors, but also largely impacted by the inputs of peer reviewers, editors, and editorial board members of the journals. All such participants, who play a critical role in the process of finalizing a paper for publication, also need to seek any disclosure from the authors that could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest.

The general format of the conflict of interest form includes:

  • Author and co-authors’ conflict of interest.
  • Statements declaring whether the supporting sources are involved in the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Explanation regarding the authors’ access to the study data, including the nature and extent of the authors’ access and validity.

Declaration of any conflict of interest is an ethical requirement for researchers at the time of submitting their manuscripts for publication. Being upfront about any potential conflict of interest is likely to increase the trust of the readers in the publication and places them in a position to make an honest evaluation of any likely bias in the research findings.

Retraction of Publications

Your published articles give you recognition as a writer and boost your academic credentials. However, there are special circumstances when an article might be withdrawn or cancelled even after its publication. This process is called retraction of publications.

Research articles go through a review process prior to publication. However, there are occasions when major errors are detected in a research paper after it is published. In such circumstances, the journal is forced to issue a retraction notice to withdraw the publication. Retraction enables journals to alert or inform readers about the errors in the findings or conclusions of the paper. Some journals, however, retract papers without citing specific reasons because they fear a loss of credibility in the journal. In recent months, there is a discernible increase in the retraction rate in the publication industry.

According to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), publications can be retracted by journal editors if:

  • They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g., data fabrication) or honest error (e.g., miscalculation or experimental error).
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification (i.e., cases of redundant publication).
  • It constitutes plagiarism.
  • It reports unethical research.

Even though retraction of a publication is the decision of the journal’s editor, sometimes the author of the paper may also be asked by the editor to formally issue the retraction. In some journals, both the editor and the author issue the retraction notice. Nevertheless, the journal’s editor can retract the published paper unilaterally in case the author refuses to do so.

The retraction notice should cite the reasons for the retraction and clarify whether the retraction is for misconduct or for honest and genuine mistakes. The notice also needs to mention whether the publication is being retracted by the editor or the author. Retracted publications should not be removed either from online or printed copies of the journal; instead, the status of the retraction should be clearly indicated in the publication.

Retraction of publications is likely to have an adverse impact on the credentials of both the author and the journal. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary measures to avoid such a scenario.