Physiospot is Going Open-Access

At Physiopedia we believe sharing knowledge is essential for our profession to evolve and help improve global health. It is the foundation we are built upon and we are proud of our community. We achieve great things thanks to our fantastic team of committed like minded volunteers and to our readers. But things could be better and that’s why in the research section, Physiospot will share open access content wherever possible.

It is important to say that this change in approach is not due to anything other than making our resource more relevant to all of our readers. It is not about “greedy publishers vs open accessors” or us beginning to engage in topical debate. It is simply us recognizing that our content needs to be useful and ultimately clinically impactful. By sharing new research which is available to all of us, we can discuss, evaluate and unite over the latest research. We can work together as a community to evaluate and discuss the content which will hopefully improve clinical practice around the world.

The world of open access research is murky to say the least but rest assured, we have high standards at Physiospot and we promise to make sure only the best is shared. We recognize that the open access philosophy is fraught with issues but we aren’t making this decision hastily, we are ready to take the leap, come and join us.

The open access movement is not perfect.

Open access is a little more complicated than it may seem, it isn’t simply a free article to read and re-use for all. There are different levels of transparency and quality when it comes to the publishing process, enter the terms Gold, Green, Free & Platinum standard access.

The term Gold-standard will be familiar  to you. It is something we hear about all the time, when applied to research it means it is the pinnacle of robust research. This is not the same for open access, gold-standard means that the author(s) have payed for a journal to publish their work. This may seem counter intuitive but this can be a fairly normal process incincorporating printing fees, peer-review costs and typical procedure which improve the rigour of a paper. These fees are called ‘article processing charge’ or APCs. Often these are waived or paid for by an institution if the research has been funded.

Interestingly there is evidence that higher fees encourage greater selectivity and prestige showing a weak correlation between APCs and impact factors.

Unfortunately there are some predatory journals out there which abuse the APCs and provide a minimal peer-review process. Sadly these journals are all about making money and they tend to accept as many manuscripts as possible and publish nearly all of them. Overall this drives down the quality and dilutes the good work. Thankfully there are easy warning signs which means Physiopedia will be avoiding them at all costs.

Green-standard is where the author(s) deposit their manuscript into a repository once it has been accepted for publication and is available free of charge. We have discussed this on physiospot before, using the fantastic example of to show how things could be one day. Although not peer-reviewed the work in the arxiv is always reviewed by a collection of moderators meaning only work of suitable quality is available. Physicists and mathematicians regularly upload their papers to the arXiv for worldwide access and for review before submitting to peer reviewed journals. What is encouraging is this does not affect the publication rates of the work available.

Free access is where content is available to read but cannot be reused. It may also require a sign-up or trial account to gain access to the material(s).

Platinum-access is where the manuscript it permanently available to use and re-use, no fee’s have been paid to the journal and the work will be subjected to the standard peer review and editing process relevant to that journal. This is the same process as with any other article. This process is journal dependent and some have a more rigorous process than others but this is the same for traditional research access too.

As you can see there are varying levels of ‘open’ in open access research and it is a minefield to say the least. Our promise to you is that we will only share articles which are platinum and green standard alongside carefully selected gold access articles which comply with PLOS and DOAJ standards. The only exception to this will be in news posts as it is still important that we share ground breaking new developments with you which has yet to be made open access. We will do our best to share this content with you in our usual news posts.

PLOS logo

Hold up!

To make sure you can access all of our shared content, particularly the pre-publication manuscripts, you’ll need to downloaded the Unpaywall plug in for chrome or safari. It is a safe, free and legal way of accessing green (repository) open access articles.

A screenshot of the homepage of Unpaywall.


  • Physiospot will be sharing open access research content only.
  • The exception to this will be news posts as it is important to recognise ground breaking content not available for free.
  • The focus will be on green, platinum and carefully selected gold standard content.

Do you think this is a good move for Physiospot, let us know.