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New Models Of Publishing

With the increasing cost of journal subscriptions from publishers rising far beyond inflation and rapid, inexpensive distribution available with the Internet, several new models of publication offer promising means of wide-spread and immediate dissemination of research findings without financial or accessibility barriers.

Open Access Model

The Open Access model advocates unfettered access to scientific research in peer-reviewed journals in digital format that are free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. Most open access publishers subject manuscripts to peer review before publishing. The only difference between the open access model and the traditional publication model is that the author retains all copyright to their work with the open access publisher holding a license to the work. For an excellent discussion of open access, please refer to A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber.

The issue of open access is a contentious issue with many organizations taking a stance. Proponents of the open access model state that open access promotes unfettered access to research, enhances the citation impact of a work, accelerates discovery of research findings and allows authors to retain the rights to their work. The issue of author rights represents a core argument in the open access model, with many organizations promoting the concept of rights for authors. For more details, see the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Open Access brochure.

Opponents of the open access model assert that it undermines the traditional model of publishing, retaining of copyright by the publisher is necessary in order to protect the integrity of research and that open access compromises the quality of research. To learn more about the arguments against open access, see Association of American Publishers (AAP).

In most open access publications the author pays an article processing fee to offset the cost of publication. Some open access publishers offer memberships to allow for a discount for article processing fees for authors, and in some instances, publishers will waive the fee for authors who do not have the funds and for authors from developing countries. However, some funding agencies are moving to provide support for authors by paying this fee. NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Wellcome Trust are examples of funding organizations for biomedical research that provide article processing funds for authors as part of the grant award. For more information on funding agencies and their policies on open access and funding of article processing fees please view the BioMed Central Summary of Funding Agency Policies on Open Access. Some universities have established open access publication funds to help defray the publication fees.

Benefits of Publishing in BioMed Central and PLoS
  • Authors retain ownership of their work
  • Indexed in PubMed
  • Deposited in PubMed Central
  • Disseminated more widely than traditional journal articles
  • Subject to immediate peer review
  • Studies show potential of increased impact factor
  • WU authors receive discount on article processing fees with BMC
  • Articles are freely accessible to the public and scientific community

Many traditional publishers offer fee-based open access options for authors as part of a hybrid model that combines open access articles with non-open access articles in a journal issue. Based on Washington University Libraries and Becker Medical Library member/subscriber status with select publishers and journals, authors from the Washington University Danforth Campus (WU) or the Medical School Campus (WUSM) are entitled to a discount on author publication fees for open access articles. See the Subsidized Open Access Fees for WU and WUSM Authors chart for more information.

For a listing of open access journals, please consult DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals). The Directory of Open Access Journals lists journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access.

Despite their relative infancy in the field, open access journals are ranking high in an impact factor study done by ISI. Among the titles scoring high are Respiratory Research, PLoS Biology, Arthritis Research and Therapy, Breast Cancer Research, and Critical Care.

One proposed open access model is the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 is a consortia proposal to pay publishing/peer review costs in lieu of subscription fees which would allow for research to be freely available. Under this model, the costs of open access publishing are funded by the consortia, not the author as is the case with typical open access models. Washington University has signed an expression of interest in SCOAP3.


Hybrid Model – Traditional Publishing and Open Access

Many traditional journal publishers are offering authors the option of participating in an open access means of dissemination. In this Hybrid model, authors pay an upfront fee to designate their article as “open access” to allow anyone access to the article without a subscription to the journal. Open access articles are mixed with non-open access articles in the same journal issue. Among the publishers that offer this option are Oxford Journals (Optional Oxford Open), Karger (Author’s Choice), and Springer (Open Choice), with author fees ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. As with open access publishers, funding agencies are moving to provide support for authors by paying this fee for authors.

A study by Eysenbach showed that these open access articles in the hybrid model are well received.  Eysenbach, G. (2006) Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles. PLoS Biol 4(5): e157 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040157. Another resource about the impact of open access articles is a bibliography of the effect of open access and downloads on citation impact compiled by the Open Citation Project.


Repository Model

Digital Commons@Becker

There are over 660 capstones and independent studies dating from 1938 in the Digital Commons@Becker Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences Collection.

Repositories range from those hosted by an institution to house the intellectual property created by that institution or repositories that are subject based such as biomedicine or physics. While some repositories perform peer review functions, most serve simply as a repository for materials (published and unpublished) such as manuscripts, theses, supplemental data, conference proceedings, student posters, faculty notes, newsletters, to name a few examples. To locate a repository, use the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR).

Institutional Repository

  • Digital Commons@Becker
    • Digital Commons@Becker is a digital repository for hosting the scholarly work created at Washington University School of Medicine and enhancing its visibility and accessibility to scholars, researchers, and the public. Administered and maintained by the Bernard Becker Medical Library, Digital Commons@Becker provides groups, departments, centers, divisions, or programs at the School of Medicine with a platform for creating customized collections that reflect the wide range of their scholarly output. Collections can include journal articles, meeting abstracts, capstones, research papers, poster presentations, newsletters, videos, sound files, and more. For more information, please contact Cathy Sarli at Becker Medical Library.
  • Washington University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
    • Washington University Electronic Theses and Dissertations contains Master's theses and Doctoral dissertations produced at Washington University since 2009. Not all are available for public viewing at the request of authors. For more information on Washington University Electronic Theses and Dissertations, please contact Digital Library Services.
  • Open Scholarship
    • Open Scholarship provides access to the scholarly output of faculty, staff, and students from Washington University in St. Louis by gathering it in one place. On May 9, 2011, the Faculty Senate passed the Open Access Resolution in order to make "scholarship and creative works freely and easily available to the world community." Open Scholarship is a further step in the University's commitment to open access. For more information, please contact Digital Library Services.

Subject-Based Repositories

  • PubMed Central
    • PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. PMC was started in 2000 and contains over half a million articles, including supplemental data, most of which have a corresponding entry in PubMed. Authors who publish manuscripts based on research funded by NIH are strongly encouraged to deposit their work in PMC.
  • arXiv
    • arXiv is an e-print service hosted by Cornell University in the fields of physics, mathematics, non-linear science, computer science, and quantitative biology. Washington University Libraries (Physics Library funds) contributes annually to arXiv.
  • RePEc
    • Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) is a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in 63 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in economics. The heart of the project is a decentralized database of working papers, journal articles and software components. All RePec materials are freely available.


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