Recently I have challenged myself about my practice, and realised that I do not necessarily walk the talk, especially in relation to publication of my work. So I have asked myself this question:
I talk about open access and open access journals, but how ethical am I being by submitting my work to closed midwifery journals?
Where should I submit my work for publication?
This question has come to a head over the last few months for several reasons.
Access to journal articles
The first reason is my ongoing frustration about the difficulty of accessing journal articles. I have talked about this issue more than once, recognising the difficulty midwives have in accessing evidence-based information, especially if they are geographically isolated or do not have access to medical libraries or databases.
There are a number of open access journals that midwives should find useful, but all of the main midwifery journals are closed to all but subscribers. And for many midwives, subscription is prohibitive.
Here are a few online journals that may be of interest to midwives:
- Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice
- International Journal of Nursing and Midwifery
- Rural and Remote Health
- Journal of Medical Internet Research
- Internet Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
- International Breastfeeding Journal
- New Zealand College of Midwives
The second reason I have started questioning my practice is the influence of strong role modelling that I see around me. The Second Life Education Project, Leigh Blackall and his open PhD and Wayne Mackintosh with his work in Wikieducator have all got me looking at how I can be a role model to the midwifery profession. My open work and research in this blog has been noted by other midwives, but I feel it is time to take a real step of faith into open access publication.
Open access does work
I spoke to Professor Terry Anderson (a professor who specialises in education) a couple of weeks ago at a conference in Wellington and he told me he only published in journals that had open access. Of course, he has the luxury of being able to take this decision - he has the international name and resources to support his work. Nevertheless, he has put his money where his mouth is, and published a number of open access books that have reached far larger audiences than those he published using conventional methods. It goes without saying that I am barely on the same planet as Terry, but I do feel I can contribute in my own way. I believe that if we all do our small bit and move to open publishing, closed midwifery journals will be forced to respond.
The third reason I have started thinking about this whole issue is that I have recently had several invitations to publish articles. I also have a back log of work to publish including the work I have done with eMentoring, Second Life and the Virtual International Day of the Midwife.
The problem I face is that because there are no specific international open access midwifery journals, I don't know how I can get my work read by the wider midwifery audience in an academic, peer-reviewed way that will give me the brownie points I need as an academic.
What's good about open access journals?
A couple of things stand out for me about open access journals, especially if they include an open access review process. The first thing is that the review process will be more transparent and rigorous. The second and most obvious, is that open publishing increases access to information, which goes some way to support disadvantaged midwives.
Benefit for authors
As an author, my question is "will my work be cited more often if it is in an open access journal?" It looks like the answer to that question is "yes", although as you can imagine, it is quite a complex issue. Alma Swan has just reviewed a number of studies that has looked at this issue and found that the majority of studies found open access increased citation impact ie if you publish in an open access journal, you are more likely to have your work cited in other articles. But... let's face it, if my article is rubbish, it won't get cited wherever it is published!
Where does this leave me?
I have just declined an offer to write an article unless it is published under a Creative Commons licence. I am concerned that taking this stance will restrict my publishing opportunities and reduce the opportunity to get my work out to 'Mrs Average Midwife'. However, I am so committed to the philosophy of open access that I am prepared to take that risk.
The obvious answer to my problems is to start an open access midwifery journal....I'll just quickly do that after lunch!!
Seriously, if anyone is interested in discussing this further, please let me know.
Swan, A. (2010). The Open Access citation advantage. Studies and results to date. School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton. Retrieved 9 May, 2010, from http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/18516/2/Citation_advantage_paper.pdf
Wagner, A. (2010). Open Access Citation Advantage: An Annotated Bibliography. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter. Retrieved 9 May, 2010, from