An Interview with Mark Elkins on Open Access Journal of Physiotherapy

We recently reported that the Journal of Physiotherapy from the Australian Physiotherapy Association will be open access from 2014.  This has resonated with our mission to provide open access to physiotherapy knowledge so we were delighted to be able to ask Mark Elkins, Scientific Editor, a few questions about the process and decisions involved.  Here’s what he had to say:

What drove the decision to make the journal open access?

The chair of the Editorial Board, Prof Rob Herbert, made the suggestion during a face-to-face meeting of the Editorial Board members in early 2011. We were all in favour of it, for several reasons: more clinical physiotherapists will read the papers, more patients will benefit from the research, more researchers will read and cite the papers we publish, and funders will be more satisfied with the dissemination of the research they have supported. We also anticipate that the journal will gain a higher profile and that we will attract higher quality papers. Credit also goes to Cris Massis, APA CEO, for recognising the potential benefits of the change and for allowing us to negotiate a change to our publishing model. The APA has worked carefully to devise a model that meets all our needs, and which presents a new role for professional Associations in the publication of research.. We were even able to capitalise on some efficiencies so that the change from print to digital Open Access worked out reasonably cost-neutral for the APA.

How do you feel that it will benefit your organisation and the profession at large?

Initially, having our papers open access from the point of publication will mean the journal will reach a wider readership and the papers will have greater ‘visibility’ during electronic searches. We expect that this will raise the journal’s profile and therefore the profile of Australian physiotherapy and the APA. The quality of the studies we publish is very high and having them publicly available will help raise the profile of the profession as one based in rigorous scientific research. This is vital in this era where allied health professions are under pressure to justify their value and credibility. It will also help raise the profile of the physiotherapy profession to have one of its journals join the ranks of the high-quality open access journals

Do you have any opinions about the future of publishing and open access journals?

I think open access is the way of the future for publishing scientific research. Funding institutions are recognising that publicly funded research should be available to all, and some are imposing conditions on funding awards such as that the research must be published in an open access journal. We have already taken on several other elements of the future of scientific publishing, such as mandatory prospective registration of clinical trials and publishing raw data as a electronic appendix to the paper – each of which provides greater transparency and accountability, among other benefits. Publishing models need to recognise that new technology is driving changes that benefit the rapid delivery and greater transparency of information.

When will the journal become open?

We already have free access to all the content of the journal from 12 months after its publication date. From the beginning of 2014, all editorials and original research papers will be open access from the point of publication. Access to the other content of the journal (critically appraised papers, clinimetrics, appraisals of clinical practice guideline, correspondence, and appraisals of books, websites and other media) will still require an institutional subscription, but at a modest price.

When will authors be able to submit their papers?

Authors can submit their papers whenever they wish. The content for the remainder of 2013 is already decided, so any papers accepted now will be published under the new open access system.  The instructions for submission and the rest of the Author Guidelines are available at