Open access publishing: a study of current practices in orthopaedic research

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Abstract

Background

Open access (OA) publications have changed the paradigm of dissemination of scientific research. Their benefits to low-income countries underline their value; however, critics question exorbitant publication fees as well as their effect on the peer review process and research quality.

Purpose

This study reports on the prevalence of OA publishing in orthopaedic research and compares benchmark citation indices as well as evidence quality derived from OA journals with conventional subscription based orthopaedic journals.

Methods

All 63 orthopaedic journals listed in ISI’s Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Report (JCR) were examined. Bibliometric data attributed to each journal for the year 2012 was acquired from the JCR. Studies that fulfilled the criteria of level I evidence were identified for each journal within PubMed. Individual journal websites were reviewed to identify their open access policy. A total of 38 (60.3 %) journals did not offer any form of OA publishing; however, 20 (31.7 %) hybrid journals were identified which offered authors the choice to publish their work as OA if a publication fee was paid. Only five (8 %) journals published all their articles as OA. There was variability amongst the different publication fees for OA articles. Journals that published OA articles did not differ from subscription based journals on the basis of 2012 impact factor, citation number, self citation proportion or the volume of level I evidence published (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

OA journals are present in orthopaedic research, though in small numbers. Over a third of orthopaedic journals catalogued in the ISI Web of Knowledge JCR® are hybrid journals that provide authors with the opportunity to publish their articles as OA after a publication fee is paid. This study suggests equivalent importance and quality of articles between OA and subscription based orthopaedic journals based on bibliometric data and the volume of level I evidence produced. Orthopaedic researchers must recognize the potential benefits of OA publishing and its emerging presence within the field. Further examination and consensus is required in orthopaedic research to generate an OA system that is robustly regulated and maintains research quality.