Open Access Journals

ResearchBlogging.orgAbout 10 years ago, some scientists started an ‘open access’ campaign for free journals funded by author fees. A reason to start the open access journals was to make scientific publications available for researchers in developing countries. Can we after 10 years say that researchers in the poorer countries have benefited from this exercise?

The two most important publishers are Public Library of Science (with six journals) and BioMedCentral (with 206 journals). By various measures about 10% of all biomedical journals are now open access. PLoSONE expects to publish about 7500 papers this year, making it the world’s largest journal in terms of volume.

A review in 2009 shows an 8% citation advantage for open-access articles, although the rate was higher in developing countries (Evand and Reimer, 2009).From personal experience I have learned that Ethiopian researchers try to publish in open access journals. This is a natural development because they are exempted from paying the processing fees.

Another benefit for researchers in developing countries is that many of the open access journals have a good citation index, showing that research papers are widely read and cited.

However, there is also a weakness in the open access publishing for developing countries. Unfortunately, the scientific literature the researchers read and cite is often limited to articles found in open access journals. This may result in a selective reading of researchers and students.

So researchers in the poor countries need to have better access to read journals. Unfortunately, initiatives as HINARI are often limited to a few individuals and to libraries.

Evans, J., & Reimer, J. (2009). Open Access and Global Participation in Science Science, 323 (5917), 1025-1025 DOI: 10.1126/science.1154562

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