My blog posted in open access has been viewed 2771 times in 5 days and has now been subject to some post-publication reviews. It seems appropriate to do a quick follow up in which I respond to those comments.
The original post made several points:
- If you have some great work, submitting to high-impact journals like Science/Nature is fine – even though the chances of acceptance are low. The whole process usually makes for a better paper.
- Traditional society-based journals are great outlets: they are well respected in the community and are frequently scanned for papers by many scientists. If you publish there, folks know you have received a rigorous and critical evaluation of your science from the perspective of its rigor AND importance.
- Rejection is an ever-constant companion for ALL scientists trying the above routes and it is good idea to find a coping mechanism that works for you.
- Open access journals are not good options (except as a last restort) because they don’t have the above properties.
This statement is totally correct. Most of us think of PLoS ONE as the archetypal open access journal, which is why I didn't think to initially draw the distinction with "better" open access journals. I therefore added the follow comment after the post.
@JacquelynGill @EcoEvoEvoEco I don't see what this has to do w OA. It is about journal quality, which isn't necessarily correlated with OA.
— ElenaBennett (@ElenaBennett) December 3, 2014
To make sure my opinion is clear, I am FOR open access PAPERS (in whatever journal) and even for open access journals as long as they are selective (e.g., PLoS Biology, Evolutionary Applications). What I am not for is for-profit open access journals where you pay your way to publish pretty much whatever you want. Those are merely profit making machines for publishing houses - they only make money when they publish your paper. PLoS ONE is non-profit but the problem there is that it is (rightly) viewed as a dumping ground for papers that people couldn't get published elsewhere. Thus, it is not good for exposure of your paper, for the influence of your paper (citations), or for your career. It should be a last resort when you are in a hurry or you (or your student) are sick of trying other places. Indeed, that is how many people already view it and you should too or people will think that was the case for your paper even if you submitted there first.
By far the best option as far as everyone (except for many publishers) is concerned is to publish in a respected traditional (often society based) journal and pay for the paper to be open access. Everyone wins.
A number of other comments were along the lines that I had N = 2 for my PLoS ONE papers, which thus doesn't say much beyond my own limited personal experience. This is also entirely true given that the post was from my personal perspective and speaks only to my own experience.
But, wait, it turns out I have more experience than I thought (it seems I even ignore my own PLoS ONE papers). While reviewing another manuscript today, I remembered that I had another PLoS ONE paper - this one published in 2010. Yeeha: N = 3. I figured I better update my stats accordingly. I was a bit worried this time as I quite like the paper and know it has been cited at least a few times, so I was thinking that my new data point would mess up my story. Nope. Same thing - the worst cited of all my papers in that year.
@ucfagls @Protohedgehog @alisonatkin Yes, data speak to only 2 papers but, for me, those 2 are the ones that matter. Doesn't encourage more.
— Andrew Hendry (@EcoEvoEvoEco) November 30, 2014
|Updated stats (adding 2010) for citations (Web of Science) to my PLoS ONE papers in comparison to citations to all my other papers in those years.|
@JacquelynGill @ElenaBennett @EcoEvoEvoEco This study gave different picture of cites in PLOS ONE vs ecology journals http://t.co/O4lJVFUSC4The paper referred to here collected data on citations to 30 empirical ecological papers (selected in a "stratified" manner) published in 2009 in PLoS ONE, in some traditional ecology journals (Ecology, Oikos, Functional Ecology), in Ecology Letters, and in the big boys (Nature, Science). The results were that citations to ecology papers in PLoS ONE were roughly equivalent to those in Ecology and Functional Ecology and higher than those in Oikos. However, the citation rates in PLoS ONE were much lower than in Ecology Letters and the big boys.
— Matt Hodgkinson (@mattjhodgkinson) December 3, 2014
|From Wardle (2012 - Ideas In Ecology and Evolution)|
|Citations to "ecology" papers in PLoS ONE and in Ecology in each of three years.|
Of course, this analysis is still crude: I didn't actually read the papers, I didn't examine other journals, and I didn't examine more years. Nevertheless, these larger sample sizes than in Wardle (2012) seem more in line with my argument that citations are lower in PLoS ONE than in the canonical society-based journal. My papers, which are more evolution than ecology, are cited below these PLoS ONE rates. I wanted to do a similar analysis for PLoS ONE versus my own target journal Evolution but the "topic" "evolution" pops up too many other things in PLoS ONE that are not organismal evolution and I was too lazy to sort through them all. My suspicion (and that is all it is) is that the difference will be more severe in evolution than in ecology, where PLoS ONE is perhaps more accepted as a reasonable outlet. It would be awesome if someone did a proper analysis - but not my students - they need to be working on papers and not blogging.
Of course, none of this stuff is definitive in any way but these post publication reviews of the original blog have lead to revisions that bolster my original findings and thus strengthen my general conclusions. I hope that my blog is now acceptable for publication in your journal, whether open access or otherwise.
More just for fun: