Enhancing the Open Access Experience
Now that we have developed some experience with the open access model, it seems reasonable to explore ways by which our journal can enhance the experience. We have had some interesting discussions internally about social media and the way they promote information sharing. The open access format is uniquely suited to participatory reading, that is the development of a community of people with common interests. Yet, just like the Internet on which they reside, open access publications are susceptible to the same guile and anarchy that can exist online.
In the case of open access, it has taken the form of what has been called “predatory publishing.” Who among us has not seen the seductive blandishments from official-sounding journals soliciting contributions of work or even offering editorial positions and titles? There are a number of ways for the aspiring author to assess the legitimacy of a journal. Because the predatory journals all have legitimate sounding names but merely serve as an ATM for their owners, authors can often not distinguish them from the profusion of academic journals. One of the best ways I know to vet a journal is through Professor Jeffrey Beall’s Website. Beall, a librarian at University of Colorado, Denver, has developed a compendium of predatory publishers and journals. He has also identified journal rank assessment organizations that purport to identify the impact of articles and journals but have no discernible or transparent methodology.
Another strategy has been adopted by Retraction Watch, which focuses on scientific misconduct as reflected on journal retractions. This site also tracks the activities of agencies and organizations concerned with misleading publications. It provides a fascinating insight into the world of assessing coercion, cheating, plagiarism, and other threats to scientific credibility.
Predatory publishing and fraudulent articles have in common the appeal to circumventing the checks and balances of the normal dissemination of science. Their proliferation is driven in part by the enormous barriers to peer-reviewed publication in prestigious journals as well as the use of impact factors in academic assessment including promotions and tenure. Although the use of impact factors in academic assessment has been criticized, and alternatives proposed by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment have received widespread endorsement, there remains a perception that impact factor still has a strong influence.
The open access model is exciting because it allows interaction among academics, industry, students, and the generally curious without having to commit to a subscription. As we discuss internally our desire to promulgate the ideas of our authors, we are exploring a wide frontier of options. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Doximity, and many others offer the opportunity for easy dissemination of ideas, but they are largely uncurated. In the early days of the Internet, one feature was anonymity. A famous Peter Steiner cartoon
beautifully characterized this ability to express oneself without attribution, (One dog seated in front of a computer turns to another and says–tail wagging, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”) JTEHM has adopted the principle that comments need to be signed and curated but we encourage the community to participate as much as possible. We also encourage participation and article submissions from areas of the world where library subscriptions to journals are less accessible and ideas are rampant. We would also like our readership to let us know about the type of social media that they would like to access and use.
As we continue in our second year, we strive to serve as a forum for investigators young and old, traditional and non-traditional, academic and industry, and geographically dispersed to make JTEHM a vanguard for information dissemination worldwide.