IGI Global looks at the importance of the peer review process when discussing Open Access.

Peer Review and Open Access

By Emily Alexander on Sep 18, 2017
PeerReview, Open Access
The Peer Review Process is a method that IGI Global takes great pride in implementing. This process assures credibility of our resources, thus creating an incredible source of accurate information for libraries to subscribe to. These sources can be used for research, academics, and anything in between. Further, the importance of the Peer Review process is imperative when debating the idea of Open Access and assuring that accurate and credible information is being distributed. If Open Access is being deemed to be non-peer reviewed sources, this can be detrimental to credibility.

What is the peer review process, and why is it important?

In simple terms, the Peer Review Process is the evaluation of professional work by others working in the same field. This process prevents fraud and assures credibility, without which could extinguish the public trust.

IGI Global carries out this process using a method known as the double-blind peer review, as explained in this peer review video. Once an article or chapter manuscript is deemed suitable by the Editor(s)-in-Chief to enter the double-blind peer review process, it is anonymized and assigned to at least 3 to 5 Editorial Review Board Members via the eEditorial Discovery® System. This means that all names and affiliations are temporarily removed from the manuscript, making the manuscript anonymous. These reviewers are then asked to analyze certain criteria in evaluation of the manuscript, including but not limited to components such as originality, significance of contribution, coverage of existing literature, and organizational structure. The double-blind peer review eliminates bias in the review process.

What is Open Access as it pertains to the publishing industry?

Open Access, or OA, allows individuals and institutions unrestricted access to content published in scholarly publications. Unlike the traditional subscription-based publishing models, open access content is available without having to purchase or subscribe to the book or journal in which the content is published.

There are different models of Open Access which range from allowing authors to publish their articles in fully open access journals, to allowing them to post final, typeset PDFs of their manuscript in institutional repositories, to providing them with the ability to make their paper open access within a subscription-based publication.

IGI Global utilizes a Hybrid Open Access Model for its journals, which allows the author to choose whether to publish their paper open access or as part of the journal’s subscription-based content. If they decide to publish it as open access, the authors or a funding body must pay an article processing charge which covers the costs associated with publishing the article and in turn, allows the published article to be freely read online, distributed, and reused. The processing charge is paid after the author’s article has undergone the double-blind peer review process and has been formally accepted into the journal issue.

What’s wrong with the Open Access model?

Although the idea of Open Access may seem attractive to some because of the ease of access to information, there is some discrepancy between whether the Open Access model is the direction publishing companies should be going or not.

There are various ways in which Open Access Publishers are financially supported, some being:

• Charging authors per article.
• Charging authors’ institutions per article.
• Government funding the costs.
• Research agencies funding the costs.
• Cost subsidized by publishing houses.

Since there are always costs associated with preparing quality materials that are verified as scientific knowledge, someone or some party must incur the costs. Therefore, Open Access is not truly free.

In addition to assuring credibility of sources, the Peer Review Process also prevents what is known as “Predatorial Publishing,” or the intentional publication of inaccurate or irrelevant information for financial gain. When someone uses this content in support of their research, this will impact the validity of their own work. It is the responsibility of librarians to guard the process and ensure that these journals are not made available in their libraries. Unfortunately, it’s common that libraries will accept these Predatory Journals simply due to a minimal budget. Obtaining quality scientific content can be an expensive operation, but a return on investment can be amplified significantly through the power of negotiation.

How does Open Access relate to the peer review process?

Just because an author is willing to pay to make his research freely accessible does not mean his work is guaranteed to be published. True Open Access publications will still require the submitted papers to go through a peer review process to be formally accepted into the publication before a processing transaction takes place. Maintaining the peer review process for Open Access papers retains the integrity of the research and of the publication itself.

OA publications generally maintain peer review to preserve their academic reputations, and many open access journals recover costs by charging an author publication fee. Examples of Open Access publishers include the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and BioMed Central (BMC).

Open Access becomes detrimental to scientific research when it is abused by Predatory Publishers who adopt “pay-to-play” models. This option allows authors to pay to have their paper published with no prior review of the research. Without peers to review the work for authenticity and sound arguments, potentially false research is then distributed amongst the academic community. As researchers rely on publishers to only disseminate knowledge that has been properly vetted, they cite this incorrect research, unknowingly corrupting their own work.

In general, there can sometimes be concern surrounding Open Access and credibility, but that’s why the peer review process is so important. The peer review process grants legitimacy. It is imperative that the two go hand in hand in the publishing world.
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