After several months of earnest attempts on our part, Elsevier was told on January 10 that the Editorial Board of our Journal of Informetrics (JOI) had decided to resign. Subsequently the board announced they will start a new journal: Quantitative Science Studies (QSS). QSS is being launched with financial support from the MIT Libraries and the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB). More information on the board’s decision can be found in an announcement from the current Editor-in-Chief here. We wish the board well with their new venture.
Elsevier launched JOI in 2007 in collaboration with this scientific community, and it has since been consistently valued. After many years of strong collaboration, last year the board raised concerns with some of the journal’s policies. We responded to each of these concerns, explaining our position and making concrete proposals to attempt to bridge our differences and move forward together. These were outlined in a Letter to the Board in October 2018, the key points of which are included below.
Ultimately, the board sought alternative arrangements to launch a new sponsored journal and decided to step down from JOI. While we would of course have preferred to pursue discussions to continue working together, and deeply regret the board’s choice to resign, we respect this decision and wish them the best in their future endeavors. Current and future authors should be assured that articles are continuing to be handled following the journal’s usual high-quality peer-review process. We will now move to appoint a new Editorial team and Board.
Some comparisons have been drawn with an example from just over three years ago in which the Lingua journal Editorial Board similarly resigned and launched a new journal. While this situation was regrettable, we’re pleased that the journal was able to quickly recruit new board members and has continued to develop healthily, and we expect the same will happen with JOI. Today, Lingua’s CiteScore remains stable, and its Impact Factor is at its highest level.
Key points from the Letter to the JOI Board in October 2018:
1. Open citations
The board wanted to make all article reference lists of all Elsevier journals freely available.
Our response: Elsevier invests significantly in citation extraction technology. While these are made available to those who wish to license this data, Elsevier cannot make such a large corpus of data, to which it has added significant value, available for free.
Elsevier provides options to enable unrestricted free access to some of the data it publishes and curates, including bibliographic metadata related to all articles it publishes, and basic metadata for citation records in Scopus. The Scopus API also provides access for bibliometric scientific research. Institutional subscribers are granted access in most cases, and non-subscribers who do not have access to the data can also submit requests for individual evaluation.
Our offer: To ensure that this facility is as visible as possible and easy to request, we proposed to raise the profile of this on the journal’s homepage and include details in a free-to-access Editorial and/or Publisher’s note, as appropriate, within the journal.
2. Open access
The board wanted Elsevier to lower the cost of the Article Publishing Charge (APC).
Our response: We feel that the current APC for JOI is set at an appropriate rate, as it is lower than that of its main competitor and about average overall in the field, while offering above average content quality.
Our offer: The stable subscription and open access article volumes within the journal do not suggest immediate changes are needed to the journal’s publishing model. That said, Elsevier is continuing to experiment with new ways of boosting gold open access, and we propose that JOI becomes a catalyst for the growth in open access in the field. The idea is to create a fully gold open access version of JOI, with the same board, same aims and scope, and the same scientific rigor, but fully gold open access. To help grow the journal in its nascent stages, we would further offer APC waivers for the Editor-in-Chief to use at his discretion.
The board wanted Elsevier to transfer ownership of the journal to the board.
Our response: JOI’s history at Elsevier is a success story of collaboration between the scientific community and our organization. Founding Editor Leo Egghe’s final editorial reflects on the process of creating the journal and the collaborative spirit that set the stage for its launch.
Our offer: Ownership of this title is not negotiable, but we are committed to working on restoring trust and continuing to support the advancement of the field through the journal. We all share the same goal: to make the best journal possible for the community. We know from experience that the only way to achieve this is by having a strong, collaborative partnership and we look forward to working together with you all to grow and develop this over the coming years.
The simple fact is that editorial boards and publishers will, from time to time, have differences of opinion on the future operation and direction of a journal. In some cases, mutual agreement cannot be reached, and in these instances, the editorial board may decide to apply their services elsewhere, especially when offered financial support to cover operational and/or author expenses.
While any board resignation is unfortunate, we’re pleased with the outcomes of many other collaborative discussions with other editorial boards that continue to work with us as we move forward into the future together.