Blog Post 3: Open Access Journals

For this blog post I chose to focus on the Journal Forests.  A link to the homepage can be found here. This is the journal that published my master’s paper on tethered (cable-assisted) logging in Brazil. A link to that journal article can be found here. Forests is a peer-reviewed open access journal for forestry-related research. It is among a wide range of journals under the umbrella of MDPI, who claims to be a pioneer in scholarly open access publishing. The editorial office for this journal is in Switzerland. Since the journal is open access, the articles are free to readers. The authors or their institutions pay article processing charges to publish their articles in this journal.

Forests‘ aim is to “encourage scientists to publish their experimental and theoretical research in as much detail as possible.” They do this by having no length restrictions on the articles. In addition, the journal encourages authors to provide “supplementary material” which includes things such as data sets, pictures, figures, and other files. All of this is to provide as much detail on the research as possible to the readers. They also pride themselves on their high visibility and rapid publication rate. The median time from receipt to peer review and first decision is 15.2 days, and the median time from acceptance till publication is 2.6 days. The scope of the journal encompasses a wide range of aspects of forestry and forest ecology, such as forest management, silviculture, entomology and pathology, genetics, forest engineering, environmental impacts, economics, etc.

The website for Forests doesn’t say a whole lot about their status as open access. However, the parent website for MDPI has a page explaining open access journals and their advantages. They define open access as being free to use/access, immediately released, and that the material can be re-used without obtaining permission as long as the material is cited. Some advantages of open-access journals listed are high availability and visibility of research, more resulting citations, lower publishing costs, and faster publication. They say “open access publishing fosters the exchange of research results amongst scientists from different disciplines, thus facilitating interdisciplinary research. Open access publishing also provides access to research results to researchers worldwide, including those from developing countries, and to an interested general public. Although MDPI publishes all of its journals under the open access model, we believe that open access is an enriching part of the scholarly communication process that can and should co-exist with other forms of communication and publication, such as society-based publishing and conferencing activities.”

These statements about open-access journals make sense to me. We conduct research to further knowledge on various topics. This research is supposed to build on research conducted by others, and is supposed to benefit society as a whole. However, if journals limit access to the research, it can hinder these efforts. I also see the value in providing access to research for “researchers worldwide, including those from developing countries”. Forests are a natural resource, and natural resources tend to be abused in developing countries. Countries need industry and resources to grow, and they need to be able to use their natural resources. Open access research allows researchers in these developing countries to see the most current research, which may allow them to use the resources in a more sustainable and efficient way. This in turn helps the rest of the world. If access to this research is limited, then people in developing countries may have to resort to less-than-ideal management and use. MDPI seems to recognize that there is a place for both types of journals, and they seem to fill their role as an open access publisher well.

MDPI. (2020, October 12). Forests — Open Access Journal. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/journal/forests

MDPI. (2020, October 12). MDPI Open Access Information and Policy. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/openaccess

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