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2017 SSP 39th Annual Meeting

Concurrent 6C: Open-Access Mega-Journals…

Product Strategy
Concurrent 6C: Open-Access Mega-Journals and Innovation in Scholarly Communication

Open-access mega-journals, exemplified by PLOS ONE and Scientific Reports, have given rise to controversy and debate in the publishing and academic communities. They display some major elements of continuity with conventional journal publishing they are recognisable titles, carrying out peer review, and publishing familiar-looking papers but there are also major discontinuities they operate at an unprecedented scale, have unusually wide scope, and focus quality control on scientific soundness only. This session will investigate key aspects of mega-journals and analyse the extent to which they represent the future of scholarly communication, a stepping stone to it, or a less significant (or even negative) variation on conventional publishing. It will report a major international study of mega-journals conducted by Sheffield and Loughborough universities. In particular, the results of 30 interviews with senior publishers and editors on their strategic thinking in relation to mega-journals will be presented, alongside other work by the project: reviewing how mega-journals are discussed in the literature, evaluating their bibliometric profile, and analysing the perspectives of authors and readers. As well as shedding light on the mega-journal phenomenon, these results contribute to broader discussions of key issues such as the role of peer review, journal scope and publisher business models.

The session will also include contributions from mega-journal publishers and sceptics. They will respond to the findings of the research as well as outlining their views on the present and future role of mega-journals. The session will close with a panel discussion, addressing comments and questions from the audience.

Moderator: Stephen Pinfield, University of Sheffield


Peter Suber, Harvard University
Peter Suber is the Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, Senior Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and Senior Researcher at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. By training he’s a philosopher and lawyer, and gave up his position as a tenured full professor of philosophy in 2003 to work full-time on open access. He was the principal drafter of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, sits on the boards of many groups devoted to open access and scholarly communication, and has been active in fostering open access for more than 15 years through his research, speaking, and writing. He has published two books and more than 270 articles about open access. For more information, see his home page .
Twitter Handle: petersuber
Joerg Heber, PLOS ONE
Joerg Heber is the Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE. He holds a degree in physics from the University of Erlangen in Germany. Having subsequently obtained a PhD in semiconductor physics from Imperial College London in 2000, he went on to postdoctoral positions at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, USA, and the University of Marburg in Germany. In 2005 he joined what is now Springer Nature as a manuscript editor at Nature Materials, and moved on to Nature Communications in 2012. Having held several managerial positions there, he became the journals Executive Editor in 2015. In 2016, he was appointed PLOS ONEs Editor-in-Chief.
Twitter Handle: joergheber
Simon Wakeling, University of Sheffield
Simon Wakening is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield’s Information School. After a career in operations and project management in the telecoms industry he obtained an MSc in Digital Librarianship in 2010, and his PhD in 2015 for an investigation of recommender systems and union catalogues. He has since worked on a number of projects in the iSchool on topics as varied as interlending in public libraries, graph literacy, and interactive information retrieval. He is currently employed as a Research Associate on an AHRC funded project investigating mega-journals and the future of scholarly communication. He is also an editor of the journal Library and Information Research.
Twitter Handle: simonwakeling