Monday, May 24, 2010

The good news...and the very bad news

I have been looking around for a credible open access midwifery journal to submit a number of articles. I am committed to the concept of free, online availability of publications for midwives, especially for those who live in developing countries, and rural and remote areas.

The good news...
The good news is that the International Confederation of Midwives is starting up a new journal called the "International Journal of Childbirth" edited by Dr Denis Walsh and published by Springer Publishing. I don't have much information about it because its website isn't going live until October. However, it looks like it will be a fabulous international journal covering a range of topics that will interest anyone associated with childbirth.

...and the very bad news
When I emailed Dr Walsh to ask if it would be open access, his reply was that after much discussion with the publishers, the decision is that the journal will be by subscription. Members of the ICM who live in developing countries will pay a reduced rate.

Very disappointed
I am very disappointed by the decision for the journal not to be open access, especially considering it is representing the ICM who is working to service midwives on an international level. It is fair to say that I know nothing of the behind-the-scenes discussion so I should not rant on too much. However, I feel this is a missed opportunity for advancing international collaboration and communication, which surprises me considering the mission of the ICM.

Back to the drawing board
So, here I am, still on the look for an open access midwifery journal. I'm not having a lot of luck so far. But in the next few days I will talk about the journals I have found.

I am resisting the idea of starting up a open access journal myself because I know it will be a lot of work. But if there really is a need, it may be something I need to look at.

What are your views on this issue?


Mike Bogle said...

Hi Sarah, Sorry to be such a stranger here lately - rest assure I'm still reading your posts. I just haven't managed to post many comments recently.

As far as this topic goes, I can really only offer some peripheral (and fairly uninformed) thoughts on this.

Among other reasons, as non-academic staff I don't have the same obligations to publish as academic staff do. So in the context of publications I have a much different perspective and can post pretty much where ever I feel like.

I would imagine that this will have a major impact on the logistics of setting up a journal wouldn't it? There will always be people such as yourself who will adhere to your ideals and publish in the open because it's what you believe in, but in order to gain a wider authorship I would imagine there would be a need to become a rated journal, wouldn't there?

It's very much a "what's in it for me" topic unfortunately, but from the discussions I've heard it's a fairly substantial consideration for publishing academics.

How does that process work exactly?

That said, from what I've seen and heard, the rating system can be seriously dodgy at best - not to mention political - and yet it's a constant pressure for people too.

I don't say all this to discourage your thoughts on starting up one of your own - quite the contrary, I think there should be more open journals. I guess this just (naively) poses questions that would inevitably come up anyway.


- How does the peer review process work (if it's different),
- How would the rating system deal with an open journal,
- What would the implications be for people who publish there.

On the other hand, if the object is to try and affect change in the system you might not want to placate the system too much. Otherwise the journal could start to become another instance of what you are (or may be) trying to shift away from.

Not sure if I'm making any sense here. This is just an area I don't have much experience with. Do you think the midwifery community would be open to the idea of an open journal (not suggesting it's not, just not sure).

Anyway, I've waffled enough I think, and probably haven't helped even a smidgen - hope all is well :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Mike

I understand why academics would feel concern about publishing in an open journal, but there is no reason why it can't be as rigorous or credible as a 'closed' journal. Indeed, if you use an open review process, that would make the journal even more rigorous. There are a number of very successful open academic journals such as the jr. of medical internet research. I don't think credibility is an issue as long as you follow transparent processes (just with any journal). It takes time to build up a decent citation index , as with any new journal. I think the key is to get decent academic scholars onto your editorial board to show that the journal is a serious one.

Or....the other option would be to have a non-academic magazine -type approach, but I think that is already covered by various midwifery blogs etc.

I am an academic...I want to be able to publish my academic research in a peer-reviewed journal, one that is credible and will give me academic brownie points...and can be viewed immediately by midwives anywhere in the world and it not cost the moment, there are not many options for me to be able to do that. That's the challenge...

David Callaghan said...

I was wondering what the options are? Perhaps if a list of publications including closed and magazine and blog type repositories were created and commented on by the community (the community around Sarah’s blog?), one of those may be seen as being closest to the ideal of an ‘open access’ journal – perhaps an existing midwifery blog? Alternatively, such a list might add to the case for such an open access journal.

Sarah Stewart said...

When I get around to it, I'm going to post up a review of all the open journals that are available to midwives. I hadn't thought of putting up a list of corresponding 'closed' journals, so that will be good to a comparison. Thanks, David.

WiseWoman said...

I see what your vision is, Sarah. I'm wondering if this would be something that "Midwifery Today" magazine in the U.S. could facilitate?

Although more of a "grass roots" midwifery publication than "academic", I think the two worlds merge enough that something could be set up using their website. They already get a lot of traffic and they are always hungry for writers for their print magazine. Perhaps they could have a section of their website devoted to "Midwife Academia" that would fulfill your needs, too. Let me know if you want me to approach Jan Tritten about such a scheme.
Gloria Lemay, Vancouver BC

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Gloria

Thank you so much for the suggestion. I have actually been approached by an open access publisher about this, so its looking like there are a few options.

The Australian College of Midwives have an open access journal that I am going to have a closer look at - it may be that we put our energies into supporting that journal rather than setting up a new one.