Thread: Knowledge updates

Open access: a brief tour of this publishing model

Jason Willis-Lee, Madrid, Spain

Rationale Open access (OA) is a publishing model that aims to provide unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. Medical translators and authors' editors are ideally placed to advise their author and publisher clients on the pros and cons of OA, which is a complex and easily misunderstood form of publication. Key questions about OA include: What are the real publishing costs to authors? What reasons are there for an author to publish in OA journals such as PLoS One or the Biomed Central series? Does OA actually make the research more widely available to peers and lead to higher numbers of citations?

Purpose This knowledge update is aimed particularly at translators, authors' editors and copy editors working in the biomedical setting, but is also more generally applicable to anyone working with research articles for publication in academic journals. The presentation will provide greater understanding of the OA model from the points of view of both authors and publishers, and will make attendees more confident in advising clients on the selection of the most appropriate model of publication for their ends. The knowledge provided can constitute another source of added value which can be added to members' skill portfolios.

Presentation content The presentation will provide a brief background on the beginnings of the OA movement before going on to examine various publishing models. There will be discussion of key issues such as copyright, toll fees, types of OA and hybrid models and the talk will end with projections of possible future trends. Attempts will be made to provide attendees with solutions to allay the most common author fears and misunderstandings, enabling them to provide better advice for their author clients. Commonly raised issues include: Can OA texts be copied without risking complaints of plagiarism? Are the quality and prestige of these publications the same as for non-OA journals? Are there any disadvantages to publication in OA journals?


Jason Willis-Lee studied medicine and physiology at Bristol Medical School, and translating and interpreting at Bath University. He has several years' experience as a freelance medical translator and editor, and works principally for Spanish clinicians, a CRO, and a medical publisher. He lives in Madrid with his wife and two daughters.