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Peer Review Quality and Transparency of the Peer-Review Process in Open Access and Subscription Journals

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PLoS ONE

Public Library of Science

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      Abstract

      BackgroundRecent controversies highlighting substandard peer review in Open Access (OA) and traditional (subscription) journals have increased the need for authors, funders, publishers, and institutions to assure quality of peer-review in academic journals. I propose that transparency of the peer-review process may be seen as an indicator of the quality of peer-review, and develop and validate a tool enabling different stakeholders to assess transparency of the peer-review process.Methods and FindingsBased on editorial guidelines and best practices, I developed a 14-item tool to rate transparency of the peer-review process on the basis of journals’ websites. In Study 1, a random sample of 231 authors of papers in 92 subscription journals in different fields rated transparency of the journals that published their work. Authors’ ratings of the transparency were positively associated with quality of the peer-review process but unrelated to journal’s impact factors. In Study 2, 20 experts on OA publishing assessed the transparency of established (non-OA) journals, OA journals categorized as being published by potential predatory publishers, and journals from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Results show high reliability across items (α = .91) and sufficient reliability across raters. Ratings differentiated the three types of journals well. In Study 3, academic librarians rated a random sample of 140 DOAJ journals and another 54 journals that had received a hoax paper written by Bohannon to test peer-review quality. Journals with higher transparency ratings were less likely to accept the flawed paper and showed higher impact as measured by the h5 index from Google Scholar.ConclusionsThe tool to assess transparency of the peer-review process at academic journals shows promising reliability and validity. The transparency of the peer-review process can be seen as an indicator of peer-review quality allowing the tool to be used to predict academic quality in new journals.

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      Most cited references 10

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      Who's afraid of peer review?

       John Bohannon (2013)
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        Predatory publishers are corrupting open access.

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          Anatomy of open access publishing: a study of longitudinal development and internal structure

          Background Open access (OA) is a revolutionary way of providing access to the scholarly journal literature made possible by the Internet. The primary aim of this study was to measure the volume of scientific articles published in full immediate OA journals from 2000 to 2011, while observing longitudinal internal shifts in the structure of OA publishing concerning revenue models, publisher types and relative distribution among scientific disciplines. The secondary aim was to measure the share of OA articles of all journal articles, including articles made OA by publishers with a delay and individual author-paid OA articles in subscription journals (hybrid OA), as these subsets of OA publishing have mostly been ignored in previous studies. Methods Stratified random sampling of journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (n = 787) was performed. The annual publication volumes spanning 2000 to 2011 were retrieved from major publication indexes and through manual data collection. Results An estimated 340,000 articles were published by 6,713 full immediate OA journals during 2011. OA journals requiring article-processing charges have become increasingly common, publishing 166,700 articles in 2011 (49% of all OA articles). This growth is related to the growth of commercial publishers, who, despite only a marginal presence a decade ago, have grown to become key actors on the OA scene, responsible for 120,000 of the articles published in 2011. Publication volume has grown within all major scientific disciplines, however, biomedicine has seen a particularly rapid 16-fold growth between 2000 (7,400 articles) and 2011 (120,900 articles). Over the past decade, OA journal publishing has steadily increased its relative share of all scholarly journal articles by about 1% annually. Approximately 17% of the 1.66 million articles published during 2011 and indexed in the most comprehensive article-level index of scholarly articles (Scopus) are available OA through journal publishers, most articles immediately (12%) but some within 12 months of publication (5%). Conclusions OA journal publishing is disrupting the dominant subscription-based model of scientific publishing, having rapidly grown in relative annual share of published journal articles during the last decade.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Department of Methodology and Statistics, Tilburg School of Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
            Lancaster University, UNITED KINGDOM
            Author notes

            Competing Interests: Author Jelte Wicherts is a PLOS ONE Editorial Board member. This does not alter the author's adherence to PLOS ONE Editorial policies and criteria.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: JMW. Performed the experiments: JMW. Analyzed the data: JMW. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JMW. Wrote the paper: JMW.

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            plos
            plosone
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
            1932-6203
            29 January 2016
            2016
            : 11
            : 1
            26824759
            4732690
            10.1371/journal.pone.0147913
            PONE-D-14-30003
            (Editor)
            © 2016 Jelte M. Wicherts

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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            Figures: 1, Tables: 6, Pages: 19
            Product
            Funding
            This work was funded by VIDI Grant no. 016.125.385 from the Netherlands Organisation for Research. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
            Categories
            Research Article
            Research and Analysis Methods
            Research Assessment
            Peer Review
            Science Policy
            Open Science
            Open Access
            Research and Analysis Methods
            Scientific Publishing
            Publication Practices
            Open Access
            People and Places
            Population Groupings
            Professions
            Librarians
            Science Policy
            Research Integrity
            Publication Ethics
            Research and Analysis Methods
            Research Assessment
            Research Validity
            Physical Sciences
            Chemistry
            Analytical Chemistry
            Chemical Analysis
            Physical Sciences
            Chemistry
            Physical Sciences
            Chemistry
            Analytical Chemistry
            Custom metadata
            Anonymised data (without names of raters) are available on the Open Science Framework ( https://osf.io/5hn36/).

            Uncategorized

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