What our editors think about open access

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Professor Tom L. Blundell, FRS, FMedSci

Emeritus Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK

Professor Tom L. Blundell, FRS, FMedSci. Until 2009, he was Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry and Chairman of the Council of Biological Sciences in Cambridge, UK. He is co-Editor of Current Opinion in Structural Biology and Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology. Both journals support open access.

As a group leader, I have a mix of nationalities in my current group: Brazilian, Australian, Chinese, Indian etc. I want the work they’ve done to benefit their colleagues and peers and encourage more science in their countries of origin. That means making everything accessible in their home countries.

“We need an open policy that recognizes inequality of resources in some countries and ensures we don’t unfairly discriminate – for example, high APC charges that some countries wouldn’t be able to afford.

Dr. Gupta Udatha

Dr. Gupta Udatha, PhD

Project Manager for the Oslo Cancer Cluster, Norway

Dr. Gupta Udatha, PhD, co-founder of the open access Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal

Most authors want to publish OA and the only reasons they will hesitate are because the journal doesn’t have the quality they are looking for, or the right APC. Many open access journals are still relatively new which means they aren’t yet very well known in their communities and are still building their reputation. Journal brand recognition will come.

“Nowadays, in developed countries, the cost of APCs is often built into the funding, but in developing countries APCs can remain a barrier. Science should be without barriers and immediately available. That’s important not just for researchers who can benefit from and build on work already done, but for the general public – in the case of biology and medicine these results can make big differences to people’s lives.

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Professor William Alex Clarke, PhD

Director of Clinical Toxicology and Professor of Pathology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, US

Professor William Alex Clarke, PhD, co-Editor-in-Chief of the open access journal Practical Laboratory Medicine

I work at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of the key pillars in our institutional mission is the dissemination of knowledge. Open access fits with that perfectly. If a journal is chasing a high impact factor, the focus is on very novel or high-complexity manuscripts that will be cited many times. For us, those papers may only lead to improvements in laboratory medicine somewhere down the line. We prefer to focus on papers that contain more basic information but have an immediate impact on processes, and potentially people’s lives.

“The conundrum is that while OA gets information to developing countries, when the authors in those countries want to publish their own research, OA comes with a cost. That means they are publishing in subscription journals but accessing content OA. We are quite early in the OA journey and still need to establish the barriers in relation to information and publishing. We aren’t there yet.

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Professor Peter Kohl, MD

Scientific Director of Universitäts-Herzzentrum, and Director, Institut für Experimentelle Kardiovaskuläre Medizin, Germany

Professor Peter Kohl, MD, co-Editor of Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology which supports open access.

Most of us have an opinion about an author or a paper in our field that is shaped independently of any bibliographic metric. But, you can only form that opinion if you can access their work.

“The recipe of author payment for making papers OA is very logical to me. In my point of view, there’s nothing wrong with making a payment that helps publishers cover costs and makes the paper available to everyone in the world – independently of the depth of their pockets or the stature of their institutions.

“We probably have unnecessary double work taking place in the Biosciences. I’m sure open access helps prevent that figure rising. In fact, I would like to see all stages of the research process made available open access. What about the experiment that didn’t work? What about inconclusive results? You may have important information to share about why it didn’t work and what needs to change.

Dr. Sergio Pantano, PhD

Dr. Sergio Pantano, PhD

Biomolecular Simulations Group Lead at Pasteur Institut in Montevideo, Uruguay

Dr. Sergio Pantano, PhD, Editor-in-Chief for the open access journal MethodsX and an Editor for Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, which supports open access.

In the case of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, one of the main advantages is rapid publication of results. Open access complements that – as an author, I want my results published first and I also want to make them as widely available as possible.

“In the case of MethodsX, the content is very practical and can save researchers time and money so it’s important they can access it.

“One of the big advantages of OA is that people see the full content on the publisher’s platform. They don’t just get the text, but full, rich content with links, data, and other supplementary information.

Professor Tilman Grune, PhD

Professor Tilman Grune, PhD

Scientific Director of the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) and Chair of the Department of Molecular Toxicology, DIfE/University of Potsdam, Germany

Professor Tilman Grune, PhD, co-Editor-in-Chief of open access journal Redox Biology

The advantage of an open access journal like Redox Biology is that you can publish new formats like the graphical review (see the interview with Professor Kalyanaraman). That format would be too expensive to publish in a traditional print journal.

“Is OA a consideration for me when I publish? Always, always… It’s about visibility, acceptance of ideas by the wider public and citations. Even if I publish in a subscription journal, I buy gold open access, if it’s possible.

“I’m totally aware that journals wouldn’t be so successful without the help of established publishing houses. It’s not just about advertising or promoting articles, it’s the submission system, all the technical support, the platforms. I would hate to do it as a scientist on my own.

“The other nice thing is you have all your articles with you all the time. No carrying papers around and it’s easy to share your work with a wide range of people.

The quotes are the Editor's personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Elsevier.

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