Open Medicine at five years | Kendall | Array 2012-05-14


“The launch of Open Medicine five years ago combined traditional scholarly values with modern norms of open access to information. Those of us who had worked within the framework of conventional medical journal publishing had observed how editorial independence in scholarly publishing could be eroded by the influence of revenue-driven and professional interests.1 We saw an opportunity to create a different kind of journal. Our re-emerging editorial team adopted the principles of editorial autonomy and open access to research. We created a journal built on technological innovation, collaborative education and enterprise—one that would ‘give back’ to the community of open source software and open access scholarly publishing. In our first month, our website was visited by tens of thousands of readers, while attracting press coverage from across Canada and beyond. Open Medicine provides an independent forum to debate issues related to medical practice, health research, and health policy for the Canadian and international medical community. It represents a significant achievement on the part of our editorial team and all of our supporters—especially in view of the fact that almost all processes are volunteer-driven and rely heavily on the dedication of team members to the value of making medical research findings accessible to all. With new opportunities on the horizon, we look to the next five years with optimism and excitement. Although our content has been appearing in MEDLINE only for one year, our H-index—a measure of the impact of published work—is already a respectable 12.  Between the journal’s launch and 24 April 2012, we received 508 manuscript submissions and published 146 individual articles, including in-house editorials, and have received consistently robust coverage in the lay media. Open Medicine’s commitment to editorial independence has allowed us to provide frank commentary and analysis on ethical and policy issues such as conflict of interest4-6 and evidence-based policies on harm reduction.7,8 Our editorial independence has also allowed us to respond flexibly to current issues in biomedical publishing. Examples include editorials and guidance on policies concerning ghostwriting,9 financial conflict of interest10,11 and systematic review registration.12 We have endorsed and implemented, for authors and peer reviewers, the recommended guidelines from the EQUATOR Network, which are intended to improve the quality of reporting of health-related research.13  Open Medicine participated in the simultaneous, broad publication of the PRISMA guidelines (for systematic reviews and meta-analysis) in 200914 and the CONSORT 2010 update (randomized controlled clinical trials)15 as a step toward increasing the adoption of these guidelines by authors, peer reviewers and editors. Open Medicine has contributed to technical advances and experiments that are key to the transformation of health care publishing. Open Medicine is the first refereed journal to publish the content of a scoping review16and a systematic review with meta-analysis17 in a wiki format. Both articles were peer reviewed, revised and edited before publication on our site in html and PDF format. We concurrently created a wiki version of these reviews, testing the potential for research reports to become ‘living documents’ to be updated by the scientific and broader community. We have been engaged in the development and sharing of additional code to optimize the commenting system for our published articles and have customized a program designed to help render the journal’s articles suitable for submission to PubMed Central, which requires meeting National Library of Medicine standards. All of this was accomplished through the use of free and open source software18,19; in turn, these developments can be used to improve the functionality of other publications. We have contributed to an easing of the learning curve in open electronic publishing, which has been successful in many areas outside of biomedical science, and have outlined the process, issues, and responsibilities involved in turning a medical research article into an open access wiki.20 These technological innovations have paid off in terms of increased readership: as Table 1 shows, traffic to has steadily risen over time. Open Medicine has mentored three editorial fellows, all of whom have graduated to our editorial team. Open Medicine also fosters a student peer review group, based at the University of Calgary... Although our open access publishing platform removes many barriers to the timely dissemination of new research, we have struggled to create a sustainable economic model for publishing the journal... The journal receives funding from individuals and from various Canadian research libraries who generously support our open access vision. More recently, we have implemented modest publication fees to allow us to sustain the production of high-quality articles by paying for professional copy-editing and article production. At this point, we are considering a variety of economic m



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

05/14/2012, 13:55

Date published:

05/14/2012, 14:51