Comparison of an Open-Access and Hybrid Journal

For this blog post, I decided to review two open-access journals and compare the actions that are generally governed by the publisher. For ease of comparison, I chose the same publisher i.e. Elsevier, however, one journal is completely open access that was established a few years ago while the other one is hybrid but has been in circulation for over four decades now.

The first journal was ‘Transportation Engineering’ that is published by Elsevier. I am unsure about the backing organization. The scope of accepted submissions encompasses the areas of mechanical, automotive, and civil engineering sectors that are relevant to transportation. The journal also is open to receiving research submissions pertaining to intelligent vehicles and intelligent infrastructure. Regarding the journal itself, their editorial board comprises of 30 members from several countries and one thing I liked personally is a good combination of academic and industrial researchers. However, given that the journal itself was established in 2017, its track record of having directly 37 papers published in 2020 and none before that raise some questions either regarding the extensive review process that they follow or other hiccups that might have caused no acceptance either due to fewer submissions or due to lack of quality of the submissions. I personally feel that the latter case might have been true as the journal was in its founding years as they highlight an average review time of 6.3 weeks. The article publishing charge to be paid by the authors is 2000 USD under normal circumstances but is completely free till December 30, 2021. Unfortunately, metrics like impact factor and cite-score are not available through their website.

In comparison, the most specific journal to my research, the ‘Journal of Terramechanics’ is operated on a hybrid (subscription and open access) basis and is also published by Elsevier. The backing organization is the ‘International Society for Terrain-Vehicle Systems’. The scope of the journal itself is the publication of articles related to terramechanics and especially related to the off-road transportation systems and agricultural and mining machinery industries. The editorial board does not have that high a percentage of industrial contributors and is primarily headed by academic researchers and researchers from government research agencies. The journal itself has been in circulation for nearly 50 years however I am a bit unsure when the Open Access option was started. The journal does not separately publish the metrics for the subscription and open access options but has seen a considerable rise in impact factor and cite-score over the years. A discrepancy in comparison with the Transportation Engineering journal is a higher amount of fee charged for Open Access publication which is 2750 USD. This is a bit puzzling to me as the publisher is the same in both cases. In addition, the editorial members are generally not paid compensation for their service, so this change in fees does not make direct sense. If the organization backing the journal gets a certain percentage of the fees, it still makes sense for a change in fee to be present otherwise, it seems likely that it is an effort on part of the publisher to charge more money to publish open access in a well-established journal than an up and coming one.