Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to decide which open access journal to submit your midwifery research

I have been looking into open access journals to see what journals are out there that will meet the academic needs of midwives who wish to publish their research, commentaries and clinical case studies.

Here is the criteria I have used to help me choose appropriate open journals for midwives to publish in.
  1. Relevant to midwives.
  2. International journal.
  3. Free for authors to publish, and free for readers. A large number of open access journals charge a publication fee which significantly reduces options to authors who are not funded.
  4. Credible, academic editors and editorial board.
  5. Clear peer-review process.
  6. Cited in databases used by health professionals such as Pubmed and Cinalh.
  7. Having an 'impact factor' is an advantage but not necessary. If it does not have an impact factor, it needs to be found easily in a Google search.
  8. Preferably an established journal that has been running at least a couple of years.
I have come up with a few suggestions of journals for potential authors like myself, and given each suggestion a score to help us decide where to submit our work.

1 = Meets only a few criteria and may be a poor publication option for midwives.
5 = Meets all criteria and is an excellent publication option for midwives.

NB: This score is subjective - I would highly recommend that you check out each journal before you decide where to submit your articles. I must also acknowledge that I have taken a white, English-speaking approach to my choices.

Open access journals for midwifery publications
Here are some suggestions for journals that midwives may wish to submit articles for publication with a few comments that may help you decide if this is a journal for you.

New Zealand College of Midwives Journal: This bi-annual journal is published in paper form and eventually makes its way online quite a few months later as a pdf. This journal focuses mostly on New Zealand midwifery issues, but is indexed in Cinalh.
Score: 3/5 This journal is published online but it takes a long time before it becomes available.

Women and Birth: This is the journal of the Australian College of Midwives published by Elsevier. There are four issues every year and full text articles are available from 2006. Has a very credible academic editorial board, but articles have mostly Australian focus. Indexed in Pubmed and Cinalh.
Score: 4.5/5 Needs to be more international but otherwise a great open access journal.

Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice
: This is the journal of the Canadian Association of Midwives. It is not clear if the peer review process is blind and there is minimal information about the editors. There are two issues a year with only a few articles per issue that focus on Canadian midwifery issues. No information about indexing on databases.
Score: 3/5 Fabulous to see this journal in an open access format but a lot of work needs to be done to raise its profile.

Rural and Remote Health: International journal dealing with research, education, practice and policy with a rural/remote focus. Fully indexed with peer-review process.
Score: 5/5 My only complaint is that this journal does not have a Creative Commons licence which means the journal retains copyright, not the author.

International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being: This journal is free for authors this year and is edited by an international team of academics. There are four issues per year and topics range across health including pregnancy and birth. Authors retain copyright with a Creative Commons licence. The journal in indexed in all the health-related databases.
Score: 2/5 Likely to have an appeal to only a small number of midwifery researchers and authors.

Pimatisiwin. Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health: This journal currently has no articles related to midwives or maternity, but it could attract midwifery research.
Score: 2/5 Good choice of journal for midwives whose research is focused on indigenous issues.

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Peer-reviewed journal for research carried out in developing countries, including issues pertaining to pregnancy and birth. Editorial board is made up of Americans and does not have international members. Abstracts are also in French and Spanish. Has a blind peer review process but I cannot see where the journal is indexed.
Score: 2/5 I have given this journal a low score because of its reduced appeal to midwifery authors.

International Journal of Medical Education
. This is a new journal that has started this year. It has an international editorial board and is free to publish. It focuses on medical education but will receive submissions from other health professionals. There is no information about indexing but that is probably because this is a new journal.
Score: 3/5 I am in two minds about the score for this journal. I hope it will become inter-professional as time goes by. If it does not, then it may not be a good option for midwifery educators.

Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
. This journal has been around for a few years. The editorial board is British and there is no information about indexing.
Score: 2/5 This journal would not be my first choice for publishing midwifery education research.

The Educational Research Journal. This is another new journal. What I like about this journal is that it is hosted in Pakistan with an international editorial board. Time will tell as to how useful it will be for midwives.
Score: 1/5

International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. I have included this journal because of the increasing number of midwifery programs turning to online and distance delivery. This journal is highly respected in eLearning circles with an international readership and indexing. It uses a Creative Commons licence which means you retain copyright over your work.
Score: 5/5 This journal is very worth looking at if you want to publish research and commentary around online/distance midwifery education.

Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. This is another journal that midwifery educators could submit articles to if they are involved with eLearning. The emphasis is North American but there are a number of articles with a health focus. I could not see any information about indexing but the journal uses several social networking tools to disseminate information about the journal.
Score: 3.5/5

International Journal of Qualitative Methods.
Contains a number of articles relating to health so may be of interest to some midwives. Has blind review process and international board of editors. Downside is that I could not see any information about indexing.
Score: 2/5

More journals
You can find full details about open access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals, Royal College of Midwives,, BioMed Central, Bentham Open and PubMed Central.

Have you ever thought of publishing your thoughts or research in an open access journal? What do you see are the advantages? What would stop you publishing in an open access journal?

Image: 'Tome Reader' Ozyman's photostream


David Callaghan said...


Firstly, great list!

Re: your question(s) - A bit of a head and heart question:

Heart: Open access - fulfils my philosophy of information being freely available and I can send links out to colleagues knowing they can gain access to my stuff.

Head: Star rated journals (Subscription) - for career reasons.

I think my stance is fairly common.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello David

Yes, your concerns about academic publishing are very valid ones. But I think you will see the citation index die out - the Australian Health Research grant people (Can't remember the full title) no longer support it.

I think you will also see more and more people go to open access publishing because of the cost of subscription to paper journals are so high. research has shown that you get equal if not higher readership or hit rate with an open access journal than paper one. However, I remain concerned about the high fees that publishers charge authors.

The other question that we should consider (and is one that the funding bodies in NZ are addressing) is the ethics of keeping research results closed to only the privileged who can afford the subscription, when so much research is funded by the tax payer?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this Sarah! I am considering submitting to Women and Birth now :o) Although I'm not sure my research fits their focus. I have more reading to do.

And I've already answered your questions, earlier:

Minority Midwife

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Minority Midwife

The journal does have a stringent editorial process but I see that they have moved right up the rankings to 3rd most credible midwifery journal behind "Midwifery" so it would be good to get anything published there.

I'd drop Prof. Kathleen Fahy a line - she is the editor - and explain your work to see what support she can give you to get your article together. Good luck

minoritymidwife said...

Hello Sarah,

I've hanging around the Women and Birth website and I noticed a subscription fee... if it's open access why are there fees associated? Maybe I'm missing something...

Sarah Stewart said...

There seems to be a little confusion about this p[articular journal. You can pay a subscription but I have had no trouble accessing the of charge