FEBS Open Bio Success Story

FEBS Open Bio article

At the end of 2011 we launched FEBS Open Bio as an online-only open access journal in partnership with the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS). As of June 2014, FEBS Open Bio has published over 200 articles, with 60 of these published in the past 6 months.

The purpose of the journal is rapid publication of research articles in molecular and cellular life sciences in both health and disease. The journal's peer review process focuses on the technical soundness of papers, leaving the assessment of their impact and importance to the scientific community. From the beginning we worked closely with FEBS to position this open access journal in a way that complemented the other journals in their portfolio. "This is the first OA journal from FEBS, so we wanted to make it clear to researchers and authors how it aligned with their other publications," said Gwen van der Heide, Marketing Communications Manager at Elsevier. "We used the journal homepage to showcase the open access policy, to clearly lay out the scope of the journal and to highlight the most popular content."

FEBS Open Bio faced challenges that are similar to other new, open access journals when it comes to introducing it to the author community and attempting to gain recognition by prospective authors as a legitimate and prestigious publication. FEBS recognizes the value of peer review and was keen to maintain it for this new journal, and thus its founding Editorial Board was formed from members of the Editorial Boards of FEBS Journal, FEBS Letters and Molecular Oncology. Other Editors have since been appointed.

FEBS worked closely together with Elsevier to proactively promote the advantages for authors. FEBS promoted the journal to authors of its existing journals, offering a quick and easy transfer process to authors of papers that did not meet the criteria for publication in the more selective, established journals. Peer reviews solicited by the original journals are transferred along with the papers, offering authors a fast-track alternative for publication of their paper.

To encourage direct submissions, the marketing team drew from Elsevier's database of hundreds of thousands of contacts to hone campaigns that targeted relevant authors – including those who specifically published in open access journals. Campaigns were created for every journal milestone – including its first issue, its first anniversary, etc. "We also created a specific campaign for open access week offering a special discount," said Gwen. "We mailed to over 19,000 authors and the response was remarkable."

In addition to the targeted email campaigns, the team collaborated with FEBS to promote the journal at their annual society conference in a way that matched their vision. On the exhibit stand, "Meet the Editor" sessions gave researchers and authors a chance to find out more about the journal. This activity was supported by flyers and advertisements for the journal in the conference program. The team also produced FEBS Open Bio Post-It notes for the Editors to attach to posters in the exhibition hall. "Researcher poster sessions can be a great source of research articles," said Gwen, "So, the idea is that the Editor can stick a note to any poster that catches his or her attention, asking the researcher to get in contact."

Mary Purton, Executive Editor of FEBS Open Bio, said, "FEBS Open Bio is continuing to grow at a fast pace, publishing a wide variety of research from the field of molecular and cellular life sciences in both health and disease. The growth in submissions, the number of downloads and early citation metrics are gratifyingly encouraging. They testify to the attention that this new Journal is already receiving and suggest that it is filling the niche foreseen by FEBS in deciding to launch it."