Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia asleep?

Are the folks at the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia asleep?


While Canada's main research funder in medicine, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), calls for open access to CIHR-funded research, the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia is among the small, and shrinking, percentage of journals that do not even allow author self-archiving! Canadian anesthesiologists: did you know that Harvard and Cal State do not subscribe to the journal produced by your society? Researchers there can read the articles, but not until they are a year old, unless they are willing to pay a temporary access fee of $20 US per day, for access at one computer. It seems unlikely that many researchers at Harvard or Cal State would purchase under these bizarre terms; in the developing world, these fees may amount to an enormous sum of money. If you're a member of the Canadian Anesthesiologist's Society, please tell your society to ask the folks at the journal to wake up, and realize how much Canadian anesthesia has to gain by moving to the optimal dissemination that is open access!


If you're a savvy, funded Canadian researcher who has read the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Policy on Access to Research Outputs and understand your obligations under 5.5.1, first paragraph:
Grant recipients are now required to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely accessible through the Publisher's website (Option #1) or an online repository as soon as possible and in any event within six months of publication (Option #2), you will be looking for a journal that is open access, or to least allows authors to self-archive their work as open access, in which to publish.

If you look at the Directory of Open Access Journals For Authors page, which lists full or hybrid open access publishing options, you won't find the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia here.

If you check the SHERPA RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving site, you won't find the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia here, either.

Okay, so your research funder requires that you make the peer-reviewed research articles open access, but it is not possible to do this if you wish to publish in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.

There are other reasons for publishing, of course. You want impact. That is, you want other researchers to read and cite your work.

What does publishing in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia accomplish here?

According to the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia's information for advertisers, advertising in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia is the best way to reach Canadian anesthesiologists.

What about outside the U.S.? If you are a researcher at Harvard or California State University and wish to view a recently-published article from the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, you will not be able to do so. The Canadian Journal of Anesthesia is included in Highwire Free; but articles are not available here until they are at least a year old.

You can go directly to the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia website, of course. The Canadian Journal of Anesthesia provides an option to purchase short-term access. From the CJAE website:

Purchase Short-Term Access
* Pay per Article - You may access this article (from the computer you are currently using) for 1 day for US $20.00

This is mind-boggling. $20 per article, and only 1 day's access from 1 computer? If you start reading an article at the hospital library, get called away to attend to a patient and want to continue reading from your office, you're expected to pay again?

If you're a Canadian and the article is funded through Canadian taxpayer dollars, this is particularly offensive, as you have already paid for the work.

If you're a researcher or practitioner in the developing world, this may be an enormous sum of money.

If there is another article you want to read and it is in an open access journal or open access archive, you can download again and again to as many computers as you would like. If your time and attention is limited, what will you read?

No wonder there is such an impact advantage with open access!

Even if an author wishes to consider subscription journals with no open access policies to publish in, why choose the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia with its circulation of 4,000, when Anesthesiology has a circulation of 38,000? Not to mention that Anesthesiology is obviously experimenting with free sample articles for current issues, too.

Here is an hypothesis: all else being equal, the open access impact advantage should correlate inversely with journal circulation. The smaller the circulation, the bigger the OA impact advantage.

If Canadian researchers are not interested in research funding and/or do not care about the people who provide the research funding (the Canadian taxpayer), and do not care whether anyone reads their work, by all means - go ahead and publish in Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, if you are aiming for obscurity.

On the other hand, if Canadian anesthesiologists wish to make an impact - on the world, on their research funder and the Canadian public - please tell your association to wake up, quit publishing for a few anesthesiologists in Canada, and go for the optimal dissemination that is open access!

This post is NOT a part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series. Perhaps a future issue?