Friday, January 07, 2011

Why would you publish in Scientific Reports ?

The Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is launching a fully open access journal called Scientific Reports. Like the recently launched Nature Communications, this journal is online only and the authors cover (or can choose to cover for Nat Comm) the cost of publishing the articles in an open access format. Where 'Scientific Reports' differs most is that the journal will not reject papers based on their perceived impact. From their FAQ:
"Scientific Reports publishes original articles on the basis that they are technically sound, and papers are peer reviewed on this criterion alone. The importance of an article is determined by its readership after publication."

If that sounds familiar it should. This idea of post-publication peer reviewing was introduced by PLoS ONE and Nature appears to be essentially copying the format from this successful PLoS journal. Even the reviewing practices are the same whereby the academic editors can choose to accept/reject based on their opinion or consult external peer reviews. In fact, if I was working at PLoS I would have walked into work today with a bottle of champagne and I would have celebrated. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. NPG is increasing their portfolio of open access or open choice journals and  hopefully they will start working on article level metrics. In all, this is a victory for the open-access movement and to science as a whole.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, PLoS has shown that one way to sustain the costs of open access journals with high rejection rates a publishers needs also to publish higher volume journals. Both BioMedCentral and more recently PLoS have also shown that high-volume open access publishing can be profitable so Nature is now trying to get the best of both worlds. Brand power from high-rejection rate journals with a subscription model and a nice added income with a higher-volume open access journals. If by some chance, founders force a complete move to immediate open access, NPG will have a leg to stand on.

So why would you publish in Scientific Reports ? Seriously, can someone tell me ? Since the journal will not filter on perceived impact, they wont be playing the impact factor game. They did not go as far as naming it Nature X so brand power will not be that high. It is similarly priced (until January 2012) as PLoS ONE and has less author feedback information (i.e. article metrics). I really don't see any compelling reason why I would choose to send a paper to Scientific Reports over PLoS ONE.

Updated June 2013 - Many of you reach this page searching for the impact factor of Scientific Reports. It is now out and it is ~3. Yes, it is lower than PLOS ONE's so you have yet another reason not to publish there.