Open Access Journals

One of the most prominent Open Access journals in Cardiology is “openheart“, an offshoot of BMJ (the British Medical Journal) and sponsored by the British Cardiovascular Society. As one of the oldest general medical journals in existence, BMJ is a very well-reputed journal within my field. The goal of openheart is to be as transparent about the research and publishing process as possible. All articles are free to read, all are given “open” peer review (meaning the review is unblinded), and all authors are encouraged to share their data so as to make that open access as well. Ultimately, openheart wants to expedite research progress with the aim of eventually benefitting patient care. The journal publishes both basic science and clinical investigations, and, refreshingly, encourages publications on controversial topics as well as discussions with conflicting opinions. By maintaining an entirely online publishing process, openheart aims to expedite the dissemination of research while maintaining top quality with rigorous peer review as well as running its own statistical assessment of each manuscript.

While openheart does not give a description of how it sees itself relative to either traditional journals or the open access movement itself, it does clearly define its own views of what open access should entail. Personally, I believe free articles, unblinded peer review, and shared data are very respectable standards to have for the title of “open access”. These standards, alongside such highly reputable sponsors as BMJ and the British Cardiovascular Society make openheart a leader in the open access journal community.

5 Comments

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5 Responses to Open Access Journals

  1. Amilia Evans

    When I first looked into open access journals in my field, I generally thought about the great opportunity for people to have free access to knowledge. Open access in your field brought awareness to me the criticality of open access in the health field. The topics in the health industry can be so controversial oftentimes where patients feel as though medical information is withheld or explained with such simplicity that some feel that their intelligence is insulted. Those who have concerns about what the medical field is up to can consider open access journals that have the reputable information they are seeking. Thank you for this post because I plan to check out “openheart” and other medical open access journals

  2. moeinrb

    Hi Grace,Thanks for sharing the scope and purpose of BMJ. What mostly caught my eye in your article was the unblinded peer review process. I would love to know how you think the open review process works toward a more rigorous revision of the paper? In my mind, sharing the reviewer’s identity does not help to enhance the quality of papers. A reviewer may fear the consequences of extensive criticism of big names in the field and not feel comfortable when making comments. 

    • graceblair

      Hi Moe,
      Thanks for reading and bringing up that question. I probably should’ve expounded upon the faults with the blinded peer review process in my post, sorry about that, so I’ll address them here. Though in theory blinded peer reviews are meant to protect peer reviewers from retribution as well as the authors from intimidation, this strategy can in fact obscure patterns of bias in reviewers as well as reduce the reviewers’ accountability for what they write. In many fields, especially those with smaller circles( such as my own), it is simply not difficult to guess who your reviewers are, which makes the process seem even more silly. Additionally, several studies have been conducted to evaluate the outcomes for manuscripts that had double blind vs open peer reviews, and found very little difference between the scores presented to the editors. The reviewers were also found to be more likely to substantiate their criticism and give more courteous responses in general when they knew their name would be affiliated with the review.
      This is not a comprehensive overview, but in my opinion, does suggest that there are benefits to non-blind peer review. It also aligns with the historical trajectory of science, that is – to evolve towards more openness and collaboration.

  3. Hello Grace,
    I find your post quite informative because I am not so familiar with journals in cardiology. I love that authors may not have to bear the costs of publishing their articles with this journal because the journal is sponsored British Cardiovascular Society. Based on the blog posts I have read, I realize that most people are concerned about these costs, which may impact the rate of publication in open access journals.
    However, I am a bit concerned about the fact that the review process is unblinded. My question is this, will reviewers be truthful even though they know that the authors may know who they are?

    • graceblair

      Hi Bola,
      Thank you for reading and providing your insight! I agree the funding of this journal will be critical to its success. I’ll also share with you the blurb I wrote to Moe about my thoughts on unblinded review:
      I probably should’ve expounded upon the faults with the blinded peer review process in my post, sorry about that, so I’ll address them here. Though in theory blinded peer reviews are meant to protect peer reviewers from retribution as well as the authors from intimidation, this strategy can in fact obscure patterns of bias in reviewers as well as reduce the reviewers’ accountability for what they write. In many fields, especially those with smaller circles( such as my own), it is simply not difficult to guess who your reviewers are, which makes the process seem even more silly. Additionally, several studies have been conducted to evaluate the outcomes for manuscripts that had double blind vs open peer reviews, and found very little difference between the scores presented to the editors. The reviewers were also found to be more likely to substantiate their criticism and give more courteous responses in general when they knew their name would be affiliated with the review.
      This is not a comprehensive overview, but in my opinion, does suggest that there are benefits to non-blind peer review. It also aligns with the historical trajectory of science, that is – to evolve towards more openness and collaboration.

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