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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 8 January 2018

Valerie Spezi, Simon Wakeling, Stephen Pinfield, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser and Peter Willett

The purpose of this paper is to better understand the theory and practice of peer review in open-access mega-journals (OAMJs). OAMJs typically operate a “soundness-only” review…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to better understand the theory and practice of peer review in open-access mega-journals (OAMJs). OAMJs typically operate a “soundness-only” review policy aiming to evaluate only the rigour of an article, not the novelty or significance of the research or its relevance to a particular community, with these elements being left for “the community to decide” post-publication.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reports the results of interviews with 31 senior publishers and editors representing 16 different organisations, including 10 that publish an OAMJ. Thematic analysis was carried out on the data and an analytical model developed to explicate their significance.

Findings

Findings suggest that in reality criteria beyond technical or scientific soundness can and do influence editorial decisions. Deviations from the original OAMJ model are both publisher supported (in the form of requirements for an article to be “worthy” of publication) and practice driven (in the form of some reviewers and editors applying traditional peer review criteria to OAMJ submissions). Also publishers believe post-publication evaluation of novelty, significance and relevance remains problematic.

Originality/value

The study is based on unprecedented access to senior publishers and editors, allowing insight into their strategic and operational priorities. The paper is the first to report in-depth qualitative data relating specifically to soundness-only peer review for OAMJs, shedding new light on the OAMJ phenomenon and helping inform discussion on its future role in scholarly communication. The paper proposes a new model for understanding the OAMJ approach to quality assurance, and how it is different from traditional peer review.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 74 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 24 October 2018

Simon Wakeling, Valerie Spezi, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Stephen Pinfield and Peter Willett

The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into publication practices from the perspective of academics working within four disciplinary communities: biosciences…

5207

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into publication practices from the perspective of academics working within four disciplinary communities: biosciences, astronomy/physics, education and history. The paper explores the ways in which these multiple overlapping communities intersect with the journal landscape and the implications for the adoption and use of new players in the scholarly communication system, particularly open-access mega-journals (OAMJs). OAMJs (e.g. PLOS ONE and Scientific Reports) are large, broad scope, open-access journals that base editorial decisions solely on the technical/scientific soundness of the article.

Design/methodology/approach

Focus groups with active researchers in these fields were held in five UK Higher Education Institutions across Great Britain, and were complemented by interviews with pro-vice-chancellors for research at each institution.

Findings

A strong finding to emerge from the data is the notion of researchers belonging to multiple overlapping communities, with some inherent tensions in meeting the requirements for these different audiences. Researcher perceptions of evaluation mechanisms were found to play a major role in attitudes towards OAMJs, and interviews with the pro-vice-chancellors for research indicate that there is a difference between researchers’ perceptions and the values embedded in institutional frameworks.

Originality/value

This is the first purely qualitative study relating to researcher perspectives on OAMJs. The findings of the paper will be of interest to publishers, policy-makers, research managers and academics.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 75 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 13 March 2017

Valerie Spezi, Simon Wakeling, Stephen Pinfield, Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry and Peter Willett

Open-access mega-journals (OAMJs) represent an increasingly important part of the scholarly communication landscape. OAMJs, such as PLOS ONE, are large scale, broad scope journals…

15013

Abstract

Purpose

Open-access mega-journals (OAMJs) represent an increasingly important part of the scholarly communication landscape. OAMJs, such as PLOS ONE, are large scale, broad scope journals that operate an open access business model (normally based on article-processing charges), and which employ a novel form of peer review, focussing on scientific “soundness” and eschewing judgement of novelty or importance. The purpose of this paper is to examine the discourses relating to OAMJs, and their place within scholarly publishing, and considers attitudes towards mega-journals within the academic community.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a review of the literature of OAMJs structured around four defining characteristics: scale, disciplinary scope, peer review policy, and economic model. The existing scholarly literature was augmented by searches of more informal outputs, such as blogs and e-mail discussion lists, to capture the debate in its entirety.

Findings

While the academic literature relating specifically to OAMJs is relatively sparse, discussion in other fora is detailed and animated, with debates ranging from the sustainability and ethics of the mega-journal model, to the impact of soundness-only peer review on article quality and discoverability, and the potential for OAMJs to represent a paradigm-shifting development in scholarly publishing.

Originality/value

This paper represents the first comprehensive review of the mega-journal phenomenon, drawing not only on the published academic literature, but also grey, professional and informal sources. The paper advances a number of ways in which the role of OAMJs in the scholarly communication environment can be conceptualised.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 73 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 July 2014

Claire Creaser, Susanne Cullen, Ruth Curtis, Nicola Darlington, Jane Maltby, Elizabeth Newall and Valerie Spezi

The purpose of this paper is to bring together the findings of two studies investigating the value of academic libraries to teaching and research staff in higher education…

1314

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to bring together the findings of two studies investigating the value of academic libraries to teaching and research staff in higher education institutions. The Working Together (WT) project was an international study, funded by SAGE Publishing, investigating the value of academic libraries for teaching and research staff in the USA, UK and Scandinavia. The Raising Academic Impact (RAI) project was an initiative of the University of Nottingham (UoN) aimed at increasing the impact of academic librarians in departments across the university by assessing perception and awareness of current library services and future needs of academic staff.

Design/methodology/approach

The WT project was conducted during Spring 2012, comprising a series of eight case studies and an online survey exploring the case study experiences and findings within their wider regional and academic context. One was conducted at the UoN, and included the RAI project. The RAI project was originally a four-phase initiative conducted by academic librarians at the UoN. The first phase, which is reported in this paper, consisted of a survey of teaching and research staff, distributed in summer 2012, investigating awareness, uptake and value of existing services, as well as demand for new library services.

Findings

Determining the value of academic libraries is a challenging task as very little evidence (beyond the anecdotal) is collected. Perceptions of library value vary greatly between what librarians think the value of their library is to academic staff and how academic staff actually value their library. Information literacy and study skills teaching are greatly valued by academic staff. Despite current efforts, research support is still limited, owing to a cultural barrier hampering greater collaboration between libraries and academic staff in this area. Communication and marketing are keys to increase the value of academic libraries to teaching and research staff.

Originality/value

This paper presents the key findings from the two studies in parallel. It is anticipated that these discoveries will be of interest to the wider library community to help libraries develop services which are closely linked to the needs of teaching and academic staff.

Details

Performance Measurement and Metrics, vol. 15 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-8047

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 May 2013

Valérie Spezi, Jenny Fry, Claire Creaser, Steve Probets and Sonya White

This paper aims to report on the findings of the second phase of the Behavioural strand of the EC‐funded PEER project (http://www.peerproject.eu/). The paper seeks to explore…

1467

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to report on the findings of the second phase of the Behavioural strand of the EC‐funded PEER project (http://www.peerproject.eu/). The paper seeks to explore authors' and readers' behaviours in relation to authors' peer‐reviewed accepted manuscripts in open access repositories.

Design/methodology/approach

The research was undertaken using a mixed‐method approach, involving the distribution of a survey by the 12 participating publishers to their authors in selected journal titles and a participatory workshop with European researchers from selected disciplinary areas.

Findings

Researchers' attitudes towards versions of published journal articles made open access via open access repositories may vary depending on whether researchers report behaviours from the perspective of an author or a reader. The research found that disciplinary cultures, norms and traditions shape authors' self‐archiving behaviour and readers' use of those versions of journal articles held in repositories.

Research limitations/implications

One of the limitations of the research is that it was impossible for the research team to gauge the representativeness of the survey compared to the actual disciplinary distribution of the population of EU researchers, as such population information is not available in an aggregated and consistent format.

Originality/value

The PEER Observatory is an unprecedented large‐scale collaboration between publishers, researchers and repositories to investigate the effects of self‐archiving at European level. The paper provides a disciplinary reading of the findings and augments the understanding of how disciplinary culture and norms shape authors' and readers' behaviours in relation to self‐archiving.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 69 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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