BioMed Central, an open access journal publisher in biology and medicine, hosted the 3rd Open Access Africa conference at the University of Cape Town from 4-5 November 2012. Day 1 was well attended with over 100 participants from all parts of Africa and abroad, including funders, publishers, researchers and other interested open access advocates. Publishing Director Deborah Kahn gave an interesting overview of the state of open access and plans for the future at BioMed Central. Some of the points she raised are listed below:
- Open access publishing has shown strong growth over the last decade; it has grown across all subject areas (with biomedicine leading the way) and across the world (e.g., the creation of institutional repositories and new institutional open access policies).
- The good news for researchers in developing countries is that BioMed Central is able to accept any submission that can be verified as good science because they are not limited by traditional page budgets.
- While the impact factor is used to judge the quality of journals, there is an emerging recognition that there are other tools available. For example, altmetrics tracks how an article is shared and saved in the social media world. A new BioMed Central article got an altmetric rating of 193 in just two weeks after it had been published.
- BioMed Central has about ten million downloads per month. Although not necessarily a measure of citations, if they are being downloaded by those who need them most, then surely this is also a measure of impact?
- BioMed Central’s open access publishing approach enables them to publish other types of content such as videos and info-graphics.
- BioMed Central has had feedback that publishing in open access journals and using social media to spread the news can increase collaborative opportunities. For example, one open access success story is about a medical researcher from Hungary who published his work in the open access journal BMC Medical Genomics and shared it through various social media platforms. Very quickly, his blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts received comments, which enabled other disparate scientists (whom he had never worked with) to contact him. Collaborative work has since ensued.
- Most of the costs that BioMed Central has to carry relate to managing the peer review process, keeping systems up-to-date, formatting and marking up articles as well as marketing. These costs are covered through the Article Processing Fee (APC), advertising and memberships. But BioMed Central does waive these costs for those researchers who cannot afford to pay the APC.
- The Cases Database will be launched later this year. It will house medical case reports and people will be able to search and filter the cases by condition, age, gender, etc. It will be a freely accessible database.
Get free access to over 240 peer-reviewed, high quality open access journal material (that is compatible with mobile phone usage): http://www.biomedcentral.com/ and check out their Open Access in the Developing World website.
You can find all the Twitter feeds covering this conference at #OAAfrica2012.