Cheap Impact?

A new online tool allows researchers to compare open-access journal publication fees with article influence, and reveals that you don’t necessarily get what you pay for.

By | January 23, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, VMENKOVThe open-access journals that charge the most to publish in their pages don’t always have the biggest impact, according to a new, free-to-access interactive online tool. The service, which allows researchers to compare the publication price and influence of hundreds of open-access journals, reveals that publication fees don’t correlate very strongly with influence.

Launched last month to help create more transparency in the open-access journal market, Cost Effectiveness for Open Access Journals incorporates data on publication price and article influence, based on various citation measures, for 657 open-access journals indexed by Thomson Reuters. The tool was developed as part of the Eigenfactor Project, which seeks alternative ways to rank and map science.

“We have brought together a way of measuring prestige and price and come up with a metric that can be used by authors to help them decide between the different venues they could publish in,” Jevin West of the University of Washington in Seattle, who led the development of the tool, told Nature. “We hope to clean up a little of the predatory publishing, where publishers might be charging more than their value merits.”

Three Public Library of Science (PLOS) journals—PLOS Biology, PLOS Genetics, and PLOS Medicine—ranked in the top 15 for cost effectiveness, while BioMedCentral’s Irish Veterinary Journal ranked in the top 10 least value publications.

Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project, told Nature that he welcomed the tool as a way to create competition in the market. But Suber added that he is skeptical about judging the influence and prestige of a journal based only on citations.


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