Are We on the Right Track of Academic Publication? The Future of Asia Pacific Journal of Pain
Ke-Vin Chang1.2.3

1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, Bei-Hu Branch, Taipei, Taiwan

2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

3Center for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Wang-Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

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Starting from early 2022, several universities in Taiwan have publically discouraged publication in certain open-access journals. As the editor-in-chief of Asia Pacific Journal of Pain (APJP) [1], also an open-access journal, I want to provide my viewpoint regarding this issue.

First, open access is an ongoing phenomenon in academic publications. Subscription-based journals, usually run by scientifi c societies, may face low visibility among the readers of a particular fi eld. For traditional journals, we should request librarians to retrieve the full text or purchase it from the journal website (usually at a price of 30–40 USD per paper). However, both methods are either time-consuming or expensive. The main concern of most open-access journals is the necessity of publication fees, and some researchers consider this a predatory act. In my opinion, the maintenance of a user-friendly platform for article processing, recruiting qualified reviewers to review the submissions, and indexing the journals in an internationally recognized scientifi c index require great cost and effort. For example, the inaugural issue of APJP was launched in March 2022. However, to date, APJP has not received its ISSN because of an insufficient number of publications required to be a full issue. Based on the experience of editing APJP, I understand how diffi cult it is to get a journal indexed in the Web of Science or Scopus. Journals (especially those with high impact factors and cite scores) are highly appraised through being included in these wellknown databases. In my opinion, some researchers continue to stigmatize certain open-access journals because they want to curb their younger competitors. As leaders of academic societies/institutes, we should always ask whether to call well-established journals as “quasi-predatory” is scientifically sound or methodologically correct. One way to validate the aforementioned query is to check the announcements or web pages of other distinguished universities. For example, if Harvard University has joined an institutional open-access program of a publisher and disclosed its relationship on the university library web page, claiming the publisher to be a (quasi-)predatory one deserves serious discussion.

Regarding future trends in academic publications, I believe that the key point is transparency. Certain open-access journals are stigmatized because they have been criticized for “fake” or “pseudo” reviews. The solution is open review, such as revealing the names of reviewers or the rebuttal letters to the reviewers [2-4]. If possible, I would like to incorporate the open review system into APJP, which demonstrates a rigorous process of reviewing and editing submissions.

An additional consideration is how the journal warning list would impact Taiwanese researchers. On the bright side, the citations per article on average may increase because of the decrease in the total number of publications. Nevertheless, the total number of publications or the average citations per article would both affect the scientifi c performance ranking of a university, which would make the net infl uence uncertain. Furthermore, many open-access journals are important outlets for studies of small scale or with non-significant findings. Those studies are usually labelled as “lacking novelty”. Hence, the discrimination of certain journals and publishers and purist of attention from scientific societies would drive some researchers to fabricate their outcomes, emphasizing statistical significance and novelty, to be accepted by traditional journals. In recent years, it is not uncommon to see that top researchers publish forged data serially and get identified by the scientific societies eventually. In my opinion, the policy makers of academic institutes and journal editors may play a role in this situation.

As the editor-in-chief of the APJP, an open-access journal, I would like to open my mind to all small-scale studies or those with non-significant results. I always remember that a diamond may look like a stone before being polished, and no one can predict its future impact. Overemphasizing novelty eventually leads to a deviation from reality, whereas transparency (in policy-making and academic publishing) is the cornerstone of improvement and excellence.


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