Case Study: Cell Reports and the Creative Commons Path

Cell Reports and the Creative Commons Path

Cell Reports is not only the latest addition to the Cell Press suite of journals, it also holds the honor of being the group’s first open access journal and the first Creative Commons journal published by Elsevier.

Authors in Cell Reports retain full copyright over their articles and are able to choose between two Creative Commons licenses for publication, one of which is the most permissive license offered by Creative Commons.

Cell Reports Editor, Boyana Konforti, spoke to Editors’ Update about why the journal chose this particular open access path.

“Cell Press has always placed a high priority on access to its content; each of the journals offers free featured articles and the sponsored article option*, and all content is freely available after 12 months. Cell Reports goes further by providing authors with an opportunity to publish in a prestigious journal with immediate and unrestricted access.

Why Creative Commons?

“It was important for Cell Reports to be able to offer authors Creative Commons licenses. The most permissive license allows end users to share and adapt the paper, both commercially and non-commercially. The other option allows the article to be copied and distributed, but it cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

“I’m not sure how much time our authors spend deciding between these two licenses. However, I do know that for open access advocates, the fact that we offer the most accommodating Creative Commons license, and that copyright is retained by the authors, is a big deal.

“It is still early days - we published our inaugural issue at the end of January and we publish new articles weekly – but as time goes on it will be interesting to see whether authors favor one license over the other.

“The aim of Cell Reports is to publish high-quality papers encompassing all scales of biology, from the organism to the atom, with a focus on short papers.   There are, of course, other open access journals – in fact, quite a number have launched just in recent years – though few have the high standards and prestige of the Cell Press brand. There are also other journals that publish short papers, and still others that have a broad remit. But it is the unique combination of these features that will distinguish Cell Reports within Cell Press and beyond. I like to think of the old adage of the sum being greater than its parts.

The peer review process

"So far, we have been very pleased with the number and breadth of papers we’ve been receiving. The in-house editorial team of Cell Reports, which consists of me and Sabbi Lall, are responsible for reading all the papers and deciding which ones go out for external review. In making that decision we have the good fortune to be able to call on the extensive editorial expertise available across all the other Cell Press journals.

"We also ask our Editorial Board for advice. This unique board consists of up-and-coming scientists who are the new leaders in their respective fields and will help shape the journal from the ground up. They are passionate about their subject areas and enthusiastic about the journal.

"Even for those papers that do go out for review, the reviewers are holding the bar high. That way we can ensure we maintain the high quality and selectivity you would expect from Cell Press. As part of the Cell Press family, we also benefit from the manuscript-transfer system between journals, so one review process can serve for consideration at more than one journal.

First impressions

"I have been an Editor for many years and yet it is very exciting to start a journal from scratch – especially a high caliber, broad, open access journal at Cell Press. I am especially proud of the fact that the moment the paper is published it is available to everyone, everywhere.

"I’d like to say a big thank you to all the reviewers and our Editorial and Advisory Boards but especially to our authors who helped us get the journal launched. It’s always a big leap of faith to get involved with a new project like this so I’m very grateful. I look forward to further expanding the scope of Cell Reports so that it truly covers all of biology."

* Cell Press journals permit sponsored articles only in accordance to agreements with funding organizations.

Author Biography

Boyana Konforti

Boyana Konforti
EDITOR, CELL REPORTS Boyana earned her PhD at Stanford University with Ron Davis, studying the mechanism of DNA recombination. She then did postdoctoral studies on the mechanisms of RNA splicing at Rockefeller University with Magda Konarska and at Columbia University with Anna Pyle. Boyana has been a professional Editor for more than 13 years, and she brings a wealth of experience in scientific journal publishing, as well as a deep understanding of biology and the communities that Cell Press serves.

Archived Comments (58)

Mike Taylor says: March 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Thank you for making the Open Access licensing terms so explicit in this journal. In the past I have been very critical of Elsevier for obfuscating the terms of their “sponsored articles”: we can all hope that this journal marks the beginning of a transition towards greater clarity and transparency in ALL Elsevier’s OA doings.

Mike Taylor says: March 28, 2012 at 7:17 am

However, please note that there’s some confusion in the current implementation — see Heather Morrison’s analysis here

and don’t miss my comment!

Hopefully these are simple oversights that can be quickly fixed.

Boyana Konforti says: March 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Thanks for pointing out the Permission Link issue which we are aware of, and are working on. Regardless of which CC license they choose authors retain copyright so the ‘Copyright @ 2012 Authors’ is correct.

anonymous says: August 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Any idea where it will stand in ranking ? Scientific report, an open access journal from nature, has a very low impact factor of 2.8ish in comparison to plos biology that that has a double digit impact factor.

arthur says: September 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

If you take data from SCOPUS about Cell Reports, so far around 550 papers are published and total citations so far = 1426 so IF = 1426/550 = 2.6. ( if my calculation is right :).

Boyana Konforti says: September 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Cell Reports is an open access journal that publishes high quality papers. Unlike Scientific Reports we are not a PLoS One clone. We are not publishing a high volume of papers where the primary criterion is scientific soundness. Like all Cell Press journals, the primary criterion for publication in Cell Reports, is new biological insight. Early indications (such as the immediacy index) are that Cell Reports will have an Impact Factor that reflects the higher bar we the editors and our reviewers have set.

anonymous says: September 20, 2013 at 8:08 am

My calculation for the first IF of Cell Reports is about 7.5-8.0. It published 250 papers in 2012, and these papers have been cited for over 1000 times in 2013. Other journals with IF = 7 to 8 are just like that. In a longer term, its IF would be around 10-12.

anonymous says: September 29, 2013 at 3:24 am

how can you have IF 8 if you have 250 papers cited 1000 times ???

1426/550 = 2.6 looks more fact based.

anonymous says: October 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Maybe I didn’t explain it well:

for a journal with IF=7-8: if it publishes 250 papers in 2012, usually these papers are cited for ~1,000 times in 2013 (4 citations per paper). Cell rep started from 2012, and that’s why you need to compare the rate of [citation in 2013]/[publication in 2012] with other journals. Since the citations in 2013 is still increasing, the rate shouldn’t be considered as the final figure. However, you can still compare the this temporary number with other journals. Again, since a journal with IF=7-8 usually has the rate [citation in 2013]/[publication in 2012] = 4, you could expect cell rep to have similar outcome…

I think it’s fact based, and just calculating the number 1426/550 seems to be oversimplification.

anonymous says: October 5, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I imagine the first poster assumed that the papers would get 2000 citations in 2 years if they got 1000 in 1 year. So he/she figured 2000/250=8. Of course this is wrong, and it derives from a common misunderstanding of IF, which is that would measure citations over the last two years. But this is wrong, and the first poster should look up how IF is actually calculated. However, the 1426/550 calculation is also flawed, because it includes papers published up to the present, which will still take a few months to start getting cited. Also, please keep in mind that Cell Reports first IF, to be released next year, will only take into account the papers published in 2012 (and how many citations they got in 2013), since the 2013 papers will not have their first year of citations tallied up until 2014 ends. How that will affect the IF in subsequent years will depend on how the journal was first viewed by the scientific community when it first came out and how it will react once the first IF is released.

In any case, a quick comparison between papers published in Cell Reports and Scientific Reports at any period last year will show that Cell Reports are, on average, being cited more often. So while an IF of 8 might be a stretch, it will most likely be higher than Scientific Reports’ 2.8. I’m guessing something around 6, which would be not too shabby at all.

anonymous says: October 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I guess people discussing here are mostly scientists, so why don’t you read the papers published in cell reports? In our research field, the articles in cell reports are rather in-depth, and reflect the trends in the field. However, the quality in scientific reports is unequal and in many cases much lower…..

johannes says: October 10, 2013 at 2:18 am

Well, they claim that Cell Reports is on its way to become a top journal in the category of open access. Impact Factor of BMJ = 18, PLOS biology = 12 and PLOS genetics = 8. SO 6 will be shabby for Cell Reports……

If Cell reports gets first IF next summer around 5 or 6, it will be hard for Cell reports to become topmost Open Access journal in foreseeable future.

Why would you pay fee to publish in Cell Reports (with IF of 5 or 6) when you can publish your work in Development, or Journal of Biological Chemistry or Journal of Cell Science at fraction of the cost?

haythere says: January 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm

It seems that Cell Reports will get its first IF approximate to 7?

anonymous says: January 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Base on what?

haythere says: February 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Its first IF will be above 7.0, based on the updated citation statistics. In fact, many scientists believe that it will reach 10.0 very soon.

anonymus says: February 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Based on Scopus, the 249 articles published in Cell Reports in 2012 were cited 1737 times in 2013. This is a IF of 6.97, which is above Developmental Cell (6,41). But this is just for 2012 papers. The 2 year IF, which will come out in 2015, should be above 14.

haythere says: February 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Its major competitor is nature communications, which however covers all natural sciences and publishes >2,000 papers per year. I prefer to read cell rep, which is a combination of complete open access and high quality.

YDKWYATA says: April 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

1) Nat. Commun. is not publishing (yet) >2000 papers/year…

2) Nat. Commun. IF is >10

3) Nat. Commun. is not an open access (unless the authors pay for the open access option) but it is an only on-line journal

4) Cell Reports IF should be (considering the trend) not higher than 8 (maybe 5-6 depending on the rush of the next 8 months)

5)On the quality of papers published on Cell Reports…They look like papers in Nature Commun. in 2010 when people just sent something clearly not accepted in other journals (like embo J).

5) I would say that, so far, the real direct competitors of Cell Reports are MCB or NAR while the real competitors of Nature Commun. are PNAS or Embo J.

Anonymous says: April 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm


Just follow this link and compare between Nature Communications and Call Reports. You will get the idea.



YDKWYATA says: May 26, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Yes I did, now just use data coming from webofscience and you will get the real trend… Anyway by December you will know the IF with a certain confidence degree. And the numbers will tell who is right

anonymus says: April 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Cell Reports is already above the lower IF Cell Press journals (Dev. Cell, Current Biology) and also PNAS, EMBO J., Nat. Communications, Plos. This is the perception of many people and IF data is already confirming this or will confirm very soon.

YDKWYATA says: May 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Cell Reports IF is not available yet and the sentence “the IF is already…” sounds like a nonsense. I don’t know how many of you already published in that journal, personally I did and also the revision process is quite easy compared to Nature Comm. by the way. Nevertheless I’m also convinced that Cell Reports will get a nice IF in 2016 (maybe more than 10) but this is just an impression. Numbers and time will tell

Anonymous says: April 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

249 articles published in 2012 received 242 citations in 2012 and 1794 citations in 2013. Therefore the IF would be =(1794+242)/249 = 8.17. Am I right?

Shin says: April 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

According to Scopus, Cell Reports IF will be higher than Nat. Commun. You can find that by simply comparing the first two year data.

ANONYMOUS says: May 3, 2014 at 7:55 pm

How is the first year impact factor calculated?

Geneous says: May 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

According to scopus records IF for Cell Reports should be somewhere between 12-14

Shin says: May 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I think the first year IF will be higher than that of Nat.commun., but it will be 8-9. The second year IF will be 12-14.

Martin says: May 16, 2014 at 6:07 am

Anyone knows when is Cell Reports getting officially the IF? I heard about June but not sure. Thanks!

Cell Reports says: May 18, 2014 at 12:12 am

(190+1681)/242 = 7.73.

haythere says: May 19, 2014 at 4:54 am

The form of Nature communications papers are very similar to Scientific Reports, but not Nature or its sister journals. However, Cell Reports papers are given the same form as other Cell journals. From this simple point, we may get an idea about the journal levels that are defined by the publishers.

Ming says: May 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Cell reports can’t get high impact factor just because this journal don’t publish reviews. We can see lots of top journals publishing a portion of reviews. If Nature communications nod publishing review, that journal can’t get the IF above 10 easily.

So, my question is whether Cell Reports will publish a portion of reviews in future?

By the way, I would like to show the IF of Cell reports in June of 2014: 1715/242=7.08

This score really frustrated me, although I think the quality of Cell Reports is above of Nature communications !

Jim says: May 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Why do you care IF so much? Do you want to publish your paper at Cell Research which has a IF over 10? We should strongly suggest the review articles to be excluded from journals which primarily publish original research articles. In this way, no journals can manipulate IF.

Jim says: May 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Exclude the reviews to IF calculation at the journals primarily publish original articles.

Ming says: May 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Do anyone can compare the weight between the “reports”, “article ” and “resource” in Cell reports?

Is the “reports” type values impact factor above 10 ? Lots of reports papers contain not much data.

Cell reports says: May 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Same question here. Does Cell Reports plan to publish Review Articles? If so, when?

haythere says: June 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

In fact, I also believe that review papers will help to increase journal IFs.

Cell Reports may publish a special form of “short and single point” reviews, namely “focused reviews”. Only the hot topics will be reviewed, and only include the progresses in the last 3-5 years…

Shin says: June 18, 2014 at 4:07 am

When will this year IF be released?!

ROKI says: June 26, 2014 at 1:56 am

July 30.

Shin says: June 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Later than usual! Thank you!

Martin says: July 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

It looks like Cell reports already have a SJR indicator of 8.134 by Scopus. If I´m not mistaken this indicator is in general lower than IF what means that this journal is going to get a decent IF, probably above 10?

ROKI says: July 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

That is quite higher than Nat. commun. (5.041)! Good news. Thanks.

pk says: July 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Does anyone know what is impact factor of cell reports

screen says: July 29, 2014 at 10:30 pm

its first IF is 7.207, looks good.

CNS says: July 30, 2014 at 3:44 am

Now the IF is available for Cell Reports: 7.207. Is this a good or bad IF for the first year? How about 2015 or 2016?

ROKI says: July 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

will be above 10, I guess.

iygqd says: July 30, 2014 at 10:11 am

Rather disappointing, much lower than Nature Communications or Elife or Plos Biology

Ming says: July 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm

If ‘Cell reports’ does not publish a portion of reviews, it’s hard to get a IF over 10.

ANONYMOUS says: July 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

The first IF of Nat Comm was similar 7.4.

Too many papers to get its IF higher?

PlosBio and eLife publish fewer papers and have higher IFs.

screen says: September 24, 2014 at 4:45 am

Did you guys notice that Nat communs has also switched to full open access?

it seems that the two journals are getting closer!

ANONYMOUS says: December 17, 2014 at 6:12 am

Cell Rep papers are better than Nat Comm ones. I am quite sure.

CR says: January 18, 2015 at 8:50 am

IF will be less than 9 though

ANONYMOUS says: March 1, 2015 at 8:58 am


How can you know?

Shin says: March 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

I deeply hope more than 9.

Cell reports says: March 19, 2015 at 4:06 am

looks like it will be less than 9. right now it’s around 8.2

J says: April 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

When is the 2015 IF going to be available? Any estimation? 9 at least?

im getting my paper published in Cell Reps and im a little bit concerned

M says: June 9, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Any news about the new 2015 IF release?

Is gonna be less than 9? That wouldn´t be fair

shin says: June 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm

In Scopus, Cell Rep is much better than Curr Biol except for Impact Factor.

ANONYMOUS says: July 8, 2015 at 11:32 pm


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