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If PLoS ONE Paleontology was a journal…

June 25th, 2011 | Posted by rmounce in Open Access | Palaeontology | PLoS

Doing some information research ahead of my imminent OKCon 2011, Berlin talk, it’s come to my attention that the Open Access journal PLoS ONE is actually an excellent journal to publish in, with respect to Impact Factor.

In the Digital Age, journals are merely vessels in which we can publish our research. Aside from the prestige of the huge, well-established journals like Nature and Science, there’s not all that much difference between the other journals. Sure, there’s cost to think about, perceived quality of peer-review, length of time it takes to get from submission to being printed, and a few other factors but really – it’s impact (this is not necessarily best measured by the Impact Factor metric, as Bjorn Brembs often points out) that for me at least, is the most important.

If the PLoS ONE Paleontology Collection was a journal it would have a 2010 Impact Factor of 4.15 which would make it the #1 Paleontology-specific journal (vs 2009 JCR ‘Paleontology’ journal scores). But it’s not a journal so perhaps the comparison is an unfair one. Likewise I’m sure if one collected together Nature palaeontological articles and treated them as a ‘journal’ that ‘Nature Palaeontology’ pseudo-journal would have a massive Impact Factor.

Here’s my calculations (numbers listed in the order that the publications are in my personal online CUL library, linked to below):

Cites in 2010 to items published in: 2009 = 3 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 0 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 0 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 5 + 2 + 4 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 12 = 81

Cites in 2010 to items published in: 2008 = 0 + 6 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 10 + 4 + 3 + 6 + 0 + 5 + 8 + 15 + 8 = 85

Number of items published in: 2009 = 24 link to bibliography

Number of items published in: 2008 = 16 link to bibliography

Calculation: IF = (Cites to recent items / Number of recent items) = (81+85) / (24+16) = 4.15

Of course Thomson-Reuters official JCR probably doesn’t count citations from journals such as “Caminhos de Geografia” and Google Scholar (which I used because it’s much quicker/easier/Open than WoK) doesn’t always provide the correct year metadata for each article. But still, as a rough estimate I think this is quite impressive. Well done PLoS!

The task now, is to convince fellow palaeontologists that it’s worth publishing here.

Every day I get hugely frustrated that I can’t access articles published in otherwise excellent journals such as Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen, the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, and Zootaxa.

These journals and authors who publish in this Closed manner aren’t doing themselves any favours IMO. What’s the point of publishing research if only a very select few people can read it?

Sure, granted many palaeontologists will happily send you a pdf if you ask for one either directly via email or on a mailing list such as VRTPALEO but those routes don’t always work…

Whether it be ‘Gold’ Open Access, or ‘Green’ Open Access it’s a simple matter of logic that Open Access is beneficial for authors and readers alike.