Alternative Measures of Scholarly Impact are Increasingly Adopted by Funders and Publishers

Author:
Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-07-29
URL: http://openscience.com/alternative-measures-of-scholarly-impact-are-increasingly-adopted-by-funders-and-publishers/


While journal impact factor metrics have been and continue to be used to assess the quality of publications that scholars publish, it appears that the primarily digital format in which most scholarly articles are published and the attendant article-level data that can be retrieved via the Internet can make it possible to devise article-level impact measures. A relatively recent example of this is the Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) that is calculated by Public Library of Science (PLoS) for the National Institute of Health, the United States, in the domain of medical research. The supporters of this article-level metric argue that they can increase the visibility of high-quality publications regardless of the impact factor ranking that the journals in which they appear have, as the chart below illustrates. Consequently, this can also assist emerging scientific journals, such as in developing countries, to improve their reputation, even when they operate with limited financial support.

Journal impact factor vs citation counts, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Erwin Irawan.

Journal impact factor vs citation counts, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Erwin Irawan.

Readily available computing power allows the application of the RCR based on the ratio between the target article citation rate and that of subsequent articles that cite it, which arguably permits controlling for the citation rates specific to particular scientific fields, while enabling cross-field comparability of this metric. A recent Open Access (OA) article that had inquired into the performance of the RCR as an alternative metric vis-à-vis expert opinions has not found significant differences between these, which indicates that journal-level metrics can serve as fine-grained and relatively adequate measures of the academic quality that published articles have as compared to journal-level metrics that may fail to capture the possibly variable quality of the articles that scholarly journals publish. Though the algorithms behind the RCR are considered to be more complex than more traditional impact metrics, both these procedures and underlying data are made freely accessible to the general public. While the developers and investigators of the RCR are careful to qualify the discriminating power of this metric for the assessment of article-level impact, it is an important step in the direction of deploying multiple alternative influence measures in the field of science.

By Pablo Markin


The original  blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

The Impact of Market Forces on Open Access Journal Publishers

Author:
Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-05-05

As the largest open access publisher by the number of articles published, according to the Digital Archive of Open Access Journals, PLOS can serve as a case in point for this phenomenon. In September 2015, PLOS has announced that it will be raising the APC for its flagship PLOS ONE journal from 1,395 USD to 1,495 USD, as the first APC increase for this journal since 2009. While this can be conceived of as a minor business model change for an open access publisher that sports 7 OA journals and 5 channels for scientific sub-fields, such as Muscular Dystrophy, that have streamlined peer-review procedures, are partly foundation-supported and have no author-facing charges, a closer analysis indicates otherwise. At present, the APCs for PLOS’s OA journals range from 1,495 USD (PLOS ONE) to 2,900 USD (PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine). The financial reports of PLOS for 2015, however, reveal that its approximate gross per-article revenues have amounted to 1,438 USD. In other words, given that the 2015 yearly gross publication fee revenues of PLOS have amounted to 44,604,000 USD, circa 31,000 journals have been published by PLOS in 2015, and that the average APC for PLOS ONE has been 1,420 USD for 2015, since the APC raise went into effect in October 2015, if all of these journals have been published in the PLOS ONE mega-journal, its gross APC revenues would have been 44,020,000 USD in 2015. Thus, in the year 2015 the absolute majority of PLOS’s revenues to the rate of up to 98% have been likely derived from APCs for PLOS ONE.

By Pablo Markin


The original  blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.