Medicalia.org

by Internet Medical Society

Authors: Eloy Cardenas-Estrada *, Ricardo Correa*, Manuel Menendez *
*On behalf of Internet Medical Society (in alphabetical order)

Research and publishing is an important part of the medical career. Through the publication of research, case reports and other manuscripts, we doctors contribute to the expansion of medical and science knowledge, at the time of building our own curriculum.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, medical societies started publishing the first medical journals. These journals published articles with case reports, and ideas on new therapeutic options. Some of them also published the results of biological experiments. All these early journals were printed journals that were sold to subscribers (1). That is, one needed to be subscribed to a journal to get access to the contents. Sometimes the cost of this subscription were elevated limiting the access to some part of the world to this info. As individuals were rarely able to be subscribed to more than one or two journals, academic institutions and hospitals started creating medical libraries that subscribed to many journals making them available to their staff. This way, printed journals have been the only media of spreading biomedical knowledge for about 2 centuries.

But the internet era arrived and the means of publishing changed in all fields of science. First,  existing publishers adapted their journals, making them mixed -both printed and online-, and online only in most cases later on. New publishers opted for online only journals from birth.  

The new way of publishing changed business for good: scientific publishing has never been more profitable (2,3). The fee-for-access model that made perfect sense for the printed journals was no longer consistent with the mission of sharing knowledge because it limited the reach of the scientific literature (1). For this reason, many publishers adopted a new model: the open access model. In this model, instead of charging readers for accessing journals, publishers charge authors -or their institutions- a fee to cover the costs of editorial works.

The open access model is now an established model, but it also brought some challenges. Much debate has been done about open access itself and about the fees charged by publishers: are these fees suitable or excessive? who should pay the fees, authors and their institutions or funding agencies? what about authors who do not have funds for addressing these payments? Authors from developing countries have many difficulties in getting the funds needed to cover the costs, even when some publishers offer discounts for them. This is generating a dangerous bias in the access to publishing.

The scientific world needs a fresh infusion of idealism where the obligation of paying for publishing open access can be removed. We know this may seem difficult at first glance since publishing, even online, has some important costs to face (4). But if funding agencies, scientific societies and institutions supported publishers who publish for free or created their own publishing houses directly the paid open access model would turn into the gratis open access model.

Internet Medical Society (IMS) is a worldwide, independent organization aimed at promoting best practices in the use of internet in medical practice and medical education including scientific medical publication. We feel that every doctor with a good manuscript should have the opportunity to publish it without barriers. When we discovered Cureus we realized they were aligned with this principle and we partnered with them, creating our own channel in the journal. This way we are supporting the journal and embracing the gratis open access model.

We strongly encourage physicians from all around the world, particularly young physicians, to join IMS and to use this new source to publish their articles and create important discussion in the medical field.

References

1. Eisen MB, Brown PO, Varmus HE (2004) PLoS Medicine— A Medical Journal for the Internet Age. PLoS Med 1(1): e31. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010031

2.The Wellcome Trust (2003) Economic analysis of scientific research publishing: A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, revised ed. Available:http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/images/SciR​esPublishing3_7448.pdf. Accessed 10th July 2015.

3.The Wellcome Trust (2004) Costs and business models in scientific research publishing: A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust. Available:http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/images/cost​s_business_7955.pdf. Accessed 10th July 2015.

4 The Wellcome Trust (2004) New report reveals open access could reduce cost of scientific publishing by up to 30 per cent. Available:http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/1/awtprerel​0404n318.html. Accessed 10th July 2015.

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