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Back in 2006 I moaned about how difficult it is to get quick turn around for review and publication of articles in paper based peer reviewed journals. In one of my blog posts - publish and be jammed - I named and shamed one journal for its abysmal feet dragging which saw one of my papers delayed by almost 3 years before it was published. Now I'm a journal editor myself, I try my level best with my review and editorial team, to turn round reviews quickly so that academics and researchers can see their work in print before its sell by date. It's hard, but not impossible to turn a paper round in 3-6 months from submission to publication.

I also wrote about how some of my papers were published rapidly in open access online journals, and how the experience was infinitely more satisfying. Two of my papers (co-written with Maged Boulos) are ranked as highly accessed and as a result have been cited numerous times. I have just had another article (on mashups) accepted for publication in a new open access journal called Future Internet (it looks interesting and well worth bookmarking). I submitted it last week, it was reviewed within a few days by two experts, I received back the feedback on Friday, revised and resubmitted it the same day, and on Saturday I was advised that it will be published in a few days. Turn around time? Approximately one week from submission to publication.

Articles published through open access journals often enjoy a higher profile than say, articles published in conventional paper based journals, because they are made freely accessible on the internet. Their high visibility is mainly due to full texts being visible on, and searchable from, all major search engines. Open access articles are also easily and quickly added into many literature databases and generally become more frequently cited over a shorter period of time.

The old model for conventional journals is that readers pay for subscription to read the articles they are interested in. Generally the open access model differs - instead it is the authors pay for their articles to be reviewed and published. The same rigorous review process is in place to ensure quality, but readers don't have to pay to read the article, and the readership is exponentially higher. (I have not paid a single penny though, because these articles have usually been invited). There is a third model, where organisations, institutions and third parties pay for the article to be published, and the author and reader participate for free.

My honest opinion is that the days of the conventional journal are numbered. The business model no longer makes a lot of sense in the context of social media, and other more relevant models will soon become dominant. What do you think about the new business models? What are your experiences with open access journals?

Directory of Open Access Journals (via @josswinn)

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Mark Bullen said…
Steve: As the editor of an open access journal (Journal of Distance Education), I have to agree that the conventional academic journal model is dying. I don't think it has anything to do with the turnaround time. There is nothing inherent in the OA model that speeds up turnaround time. The reason for the growth of OA journals and the death of publisher-supported journals is a recognition that academic research that is supported largely by public funds shouldn't be given away to profit-making publishers and then sold back to the academic community and the people who paid for the research through their tax dollars.

You say that in the OA model the author pays for the review. I think this is the exception. Most OA journal I am familiar with don't require authors to pay anything.

Steve Wheeler said…
I take your point about turn around times. I only quoted the issue because in my experience publishing in OA journals has reduced turn around times for me personally. Your comment about the profit making publishers is of course a very valid reason for us to go down the OA route. It makes a lot more sense to many of us who publish our work, I think.

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