This is part of an ongoing Insight series published by the Institute of Health Sciences Education, sharing practical ideas for medical and health sciences education.

By Matthew Brett

Researchers are increasingly navigating questions around Open Access publishing while also being cautious about the rise of predatory publishers and conferences.

Librarian and Associate Member of the Institute of Health Sciences Education (IHSE), Andrea Quaiattini (liaison for Post-Graduate Medical Education, medical specialities, IHSE, Indigenous health) shared useful insights during an Institute members’ meeting earlier this academic year.

Here are some insights from Ms. Quaiattini.

1. Plan your publishing

“In the same way research needs a plan, how and where you are going to publish needs a plan,” said Ms. Quaiattini. “I encourage researchers to start thinking about Open Access early on rather than a mad scramble right before you want to submit – this is when mistakes can happen.”

Graduate students, new researchers, or people pivoting to research areas outside where they normally publish should take time to identify journals and learn about their publication policies.

 2. Open Access is required for federal, provincial funds

Do you need incentive to publish in Open Access journals and resources? Since 2015, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council , and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have had a harmonized “Open Access Policy on Publications” that requires research publications from their grants to be made openly available.

The policy states that “grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication.”

The same now applies for publications resulting from Fonds de Recherche du Quebec grants awarded after April 1, 2019.

 3. Open Access has layers worth unpacking

Think of Open Access itself as an onion with layers. It is important to understand the different models of Open Access publishing and to pick a model that works for you.

Gold Open Access makes the content freely available to the end-user. Some gold Open Access journals implement article processing charges (APCs) where authors pay a fee to cover publishing costs. Other journals do not charge this fee. You can check this page to learn about APC discounts McGill has with different publishers (including BMC, Sage, and Springer), or ask your librarian.

Another type of Open Access is a hybrid model, which is when a non-Open Access journal charges an APC to make the article open.

Green Open Access refers to the practice of self-archiving materials in an open repository like McGill’s eScholarship, or PubMed Central, a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

Journals often stipulate a 12-month embargo period from when an article is published in the journal to when it can be “published” in a repository, but this embargo period is accounted for in Tri-Agency and FRQ funding policies.

To complicate matters somewhat, depending on the version of the article, you can do different things with your publication.

For example, the post-print version of an article can typically be deposited into a repository, whereas the publisher’s version (or version of record) typically cannot. Speak with your librarian for more information.

4. Think broadly of what you can publish
I would encourage researchers to think about how they are sharing work that is not in article form,” said Ms. Quaiattini.

Conference papers, learning objects, technical reports, grant reports, institutional reports, PowerPoint slides, posters, videos, and music files can often be made available in repositories like McGill’s eScholarship platform, but check with your librarian first.

These formats are registered and indexed on Google and Google Scholar, making them searchable and citable. This is particularly beneficial for students and new scholars who have more conference papers and posters than articles, or for fields and disciplines where research findings are disseminated primarily through conferences rather than academic journals.

If you deposit your research into eScholarship, librarians will help check the journal’s copyright policy, manage embargos, and identify the article version to be deposited. Depositing in eScholarship also ensures long-term preservation, and a stable URL for the item.

“At the end of the day, Open Access doesn’t have to be just about articles,” Ms. Quaiattini affirmed.

5. Attention to detail needed for predatory publishing and conferences

Predatory publishers make exploitative use of the Open Access model, charging authors article processing fees while providing little or no editorial or publishing support, a cursory peer-review process, no copyediting, little or no editorial review, or simply publishing a submitted article ‘as is.’

With a proliferation of journals, pressure to publish, and often very subtle predatory publishing tricks, these journals and conferences are sometimes not as easy to identify as many would think.

There is no definitive way to identify a predatory journal or conference, but signs can include aggressive solicitations to submit, fabricated or misleading journal impact factors, falsely stacked editorial boards, or untrue claims about where the journal is indexed (Google Scholar does not count).

Fake invoices and predatory book publishing offers are also becoming more common.

“Researchers need to do their due diligence and evaluate the journals and publishers they want to publish in and with,” said Ms. Quaiattini. “The library has a list of resources that provide different criteria that researchers can look at in their evaluations. Also, please reach out to your liaison librarian. We are happy to work with you and show you additional tools to help with your assessment.”


December 5 2019