Open Access and Landscape Ecology

I’ve got a dilemma.  I recently received a request to review a manuscript for the journal, Landscape Ecology.  It is the primary journal for the field.  If I am to be a good landscape ecology citizen I really should do the review.  The problem is that Landscape Ecology is not an Open Access journal.  If I am to be a good science citizen then, I believe, I should do all I can to support Open Access.  So, I am left with the decision to support the field and society I have been active in for years or support Open Access, which I support fully yet am only a recent convert. As I see it I have four options:

  • Review and be quiet
  • Don’t review and be quiet
  • Don’t review, but provide an explanation to the editor.    This is much like what Scott Chamberlain, Casey Bergman, Michael Ashburner and others have done.
  • Review, but provide an explanation to the editor and try to start a discussion about migrating Landscape Ecology to Open Access.

I have decided on the last option.  First, I respect the decision others have made to say no to the review.  In some case, I think that would be the best path.  However, I have been active with US-IALE for several years and would feel more hypocritical just saying no.   Thus, for me, the decision I feel best with is to try and support the journal while also pushing for change.  In short,  I am hoping that I will be able to serve both sides.

By doing this,  I can feel as if I am doing my landscape ecological duty and provide a good and constructive review (assuming of course that I am capable of a review that is both good and constructive).  But at the same time I can register my discomfort with the current publishing model to which my field’s flagship journal adheres.  My plan is to agree to the review, but also include some language in my acceptance about my hesitation due to the closed nature of our journal.   Additionally, I will share my thoughts with the papers authors and suggest that, if feasible, they explore publishing the article under the open access license.   Lastly, I plan to start a discussion within our national chapter of the society.  At a minimum I can at least raise the issue.  If I am a bit more successful , then I can hopefully encourage others to act similarly.  At best, I can start a conversation with our journals editorial board to plan how and when Landscape Ecology could go completely Open Access. I do wonder what others think about this plan to encourage change and also what the consensus is on Landscape Ecology switching to an open access model.

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2 thoughts on “Open Access and Landscape Ecology

  1. Glenn Suter

    I believe that you did the right thing. However, you should consider that virtue is not all on the side of open access. Many people cannot afford the page charges of open access journals. They need access to journals that have no or low page charges because they are supported by subscriptions or society dues. And of course there is the problem of open access journals that are money-making scams. Open access is a noble idea but the kinks are still being worked out.

    1. jeffwhollister Post author

      Glenn, Thanks for commenting! I do agree that often the cost of making a specific article open access (e.g. Gold Open Access) can be high. I have seen many journals charging an additional $3000.00 on top of page charges for this. That is a barrier to MANY! Another way to consider making our work open, especially for older articles, is exploring the publishers options for archiving. It changes from publisher to publisher, but it is almost always possible to place post-review copies, but not always the formatted pdf, up on personal website or repositories. There is often an embargo period, however. This is a good way for those relying on society supported journals to have there work available as Open Access. To get info about particular journals you can search on SHERPA/RoMEO

      And again thanks for the comments. Good to know some people are reading!

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