Advertisement

The troubles of high-profile open access megajournals

  • Petr HenebergEmail author
Article

Abstract

The rise in open access journals was followed by the proliferation of open access megajournals, which were once expected to become a major publication platform of the future. We analyzed the bibliometric parameters of 11 megajournals sensu stricto according to the definition by Björk and compared them with three control groups of gold open-access journals that do not satisfy the criteria for megajournals and that do not apply the concept of “sound science”, namely the journals published under the PLoS, BMC and Hindawi brands. We show that nonselective megajournals have started to decline in all bibliometric parameters. These journals in particular have lost connection with the most advanced science as revealed by the decreasing citations to and from the top-tier journals. While some megajournals have underperformed on bibliometric parameters from the beginning of their existence, others experienced a short honeymoon period before declining. In contrast, major discipline-specific open-access journals remain competitive, and those published by less prominent publishers have even increased their performance. However, the discipline-specific open-access journals also display decreasing citations to and from the top-tier journals. Concluded, we provided the first evidence that the change in the perception of megajournals is associated with the deterioration of their bibliometric characteristics. The future of megajournals as a major publishing platform is now threatened.

Keywords

Editorial policies Journal publishing Megajournals Open-access publishing Peer-review process 

Notes

Authors’ contribution

PH conceived the study, analyzed the data, wrote, revised and approved the manuscript.

Funding

The study was supported by the Charles University in Prague project Primus/MED/32. The funding body had no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

Petr Heneberg serves as the Academic Editor of PLoS ONE.

References

  1. Anderson, K. (2016). The new(ish) kids on the block—Touring the megajournals. The Scholarly Kitchen. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/04/05/the-newish-kids-on-the-block-touring-the-megajournals/. Cited as March 5, 2019.
  2. Anonymus. (2017). Don`t pay prizes for published science. Nature, 547, 137.Google Scholar
  3. Binfield, P. (2011). PLoS ONE and the rise of the open access mega journal. Presentation at Society of Scholarly Publishing (SSP) meeting, June 1, 2011. https://www.slideshare.net/PBinfield/ssp-presentation4. Cited as November 27, 2018.
  4. Björk, B.-C. (2015). Have the “mega-journals” reached the limits to growth? PeerJ, 3, e981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Björk, B. C., & Catani, P. (2016). Peer review in megajournals compared with traditional scholarly journals: Does it make a difference? Learned Publishing, 29, 9–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borrego, Á. (2018). Are mega-journals a publication outlet for lower quality research? A bibliometric analysis of Spanish authors in PLOS ONE. Online Information Review.  https://doi.org/10.1108/oir-04-2018-0136.
  7. Burns, C. S. (2015). Characteristics of a megajournal: A bibliometric case study. Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, 3, 16–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cagan, R. (2013). The San Francisco declaration on research assessment. Disease Models & Mechanisms, 6, 869–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cronin, B. (2012). The resilience of rejected manuscripts. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 1903–1904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis, P. (2014). PLOS ONE output falls following impact factor decline. The Scholarly Kitchen. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2014/03/07/plos-one-output-falls-following-impact-factor-decline/. Cited as November 27, 2018.
  11. Davis, P. (2018a). Future of the OA megajournal. The Scholarly Kitchen. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/01/10/future-oa-megajournal/. Cited as November 27, 2018.
  12. Davis, P. (2018b). Journal growth lowers impact factor. The Scholarly Kitchen. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/06/13/journal-growth-lowers-impact-factor/. Cited as March 6, 2019.
  13. Fein, C. (2013). Multidimensional journal evaluation of PLOS ONE. Libri, 63, 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frandsen, T. F. (2017). Are predatory journals undermining the credibility of science? A bibliometric analysis of citers. Scientometrics, 113, 1513–1528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heber, J. (2018). Towards our next ten years. News & Policy. https://blogs.plos.org/everyone/2018/02/26/towards-our-next-10-years/. Cited as March 5, 2019.
  16. Heneberg, P. (2016). From excessive journal self-cites to citation stacking: Analysis of journal self-citation kinetics in search for journals, which boost their scientometric indicators. PLoS ONE, 11, e0153730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hicks, D., Wouters, P., Waltman, L., de Rijcke, S., & Rafols, I. (2015). Bibliometrics: The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics. Nature, 520, 429–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peters, P. (2007). Going all the way: How Hindawi became an open access publisher. Learned Publishing, 20, 191–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pisoschi, A. M., & Pisoschi, C. G. (2016). Is open access the solution to increase the impact of scientific journals? Scientometrics, 109, 1075–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Shah, D. (2016). MOOC trends in 2016: MOOCs no longer massive. MOOC Report. https://www.class-central.com/report/moocs-no-longer-massive/. Cited as March 5, 2019.
  21. Shen, C. Y., & Björk, B. C. (2015). “Predatory” open access: A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13, 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Solomon, D. J. (2014). A survey of authors publishing in four megajournals. PeerJ, 2, e365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Spezi, V., Wakeling, S., Pinfield, S., Creaser, C., Fry, J., & Willett, P. (2017). Open-access mega-journals. The future of scholarly communication or academic dumping ground? A review. Journal of Documentation, 73, 263–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sugimoto, C. R., Larivière, V., Ni, C., & Cronin, B. (2013). Journal acceptance rates: A cross-disciplinary analysis of variability and relationships with journal measures. Journal of Informetrics, 7, 897–906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Verma, I. M. (2015). Impact, not impact factor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 112, 7875–7876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wakeling, S., Creaser, C., Pinfield, S., Fry, J., Spezi, V., Willett, P., & Paramita, M. (2019b). Motivations, understandings and experiences of open-access mega-journal authors: Results of a large-scale survey. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.  https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24154.
  27. Wakeling, S., Spezi, V., Creaser, C., Fry, J., Pinfield, S., & Willett, P. (2017). Open access megajournals: The publisher perspective (part 2: operational realities). Learned Publishing, 30, 313–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wakeling, S., Spezi, V., Fry, J., Creaser, C., Pinfield, S., & Willett, P. (2019a). Academic communities: The role of journals and open-access mega-journals in scholarly communication. Journal of Documentation, 75, 120–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wakeling, S., Willett, P., Creaser, C., Fry, J., Pinfield, S., & Spezi, V. (2016). Open-access megajournals: A bibliometric profile. PLoS ONE, 11, e0165359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ware, M., & Mabe, M. (2015). The STM report. International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, Hague. http://www.markwareconsulting.com/the-stm-report/. Cited as November 27, 2018.
  31. Xia, J., Harmon, J. L., Connolly, K. G., Donnelly, R. M., Anderson, M. R., & Howard, H. A. (2015). Who publishes in “predatory” journals? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66, 1406–1417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Third Faculty of MedicineCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations