Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India?

By: Niharika Avasthi and Heather Morrison

Abstract – Open access journals have been developing in India for several decades for promoting the visibility of research done in various streams. OA to science has been encouraged by government sponsored repositories of student and doctoral proposals, and numerous Indian journals are distributed with OA. There is a need to build mindfulness among Indian scholastics with respect to publication practices, including OA, and its potential advantages, and use this methodology of distribution at whatever point doable, as in openly supported research. This research also showed that a well doing publisher in India gets acquired by  European publisher Wolters Kluwer and becomes commercialised. The number of journals with “title not found” or “risky URL”, for example leading to a scam website, is surprising as one might assume that the motivation for this publisher’s society, university and commercial partners is that such partnership would result in high quality services. Most Medknow journals do not charge publication fees. The journals with publication fees are increasing the cost up to 50%. For documentation and a link to the underlying dataset, see Morrison et al. (2019).

According to the Medknow website, Medknow Publications was founded in 1997 in Mumbai, India by Devkumar Sahu. Sahu opted for the open access model of publishing services. Open access publishing means that research outputs and analysis are available online free of cost. In 2006, Medknow had 33 scientific technical and medical journals in its portfolio, at the time, one of the largest open access publishers of medical content in the world. They became the largest open access publishers of medical content till 2006. It was then acquired by Wolters Kluwer in Dec 2011.  Medknow now provides publishing services to over 500 medical society journals in over 40 specialties. These are open access journals. Open access increases the visibility and accessibility of the published content. Medknow publishes journals in partnership with societies (affiliations), universities or other commercial partners for the most part. Most of the publications offer free access to the full text of papers immediately. Authors can self-archive articles that have been published. Journals are available freely online but also available through value-added subscriptions.

Chart 1 : Medknow 2019 count of publisher type
CodeMeaning% of total
C/SCommercial / society (Medknow publishes in partnership with a scholarly society)56%
C/UCommercial / university (Medknow publishers in partnership with a university)25%
No PartnershipOwned outright by Medknow10%
C/CCommercial / Commercial (Medknow publishes in partnership with another commercial publisher9%

531 Medknow journals were analysed in this research. This is an increase of approximately 7% in the count of journals in 2018. It is a significant growth however lesser as compared to that from 2017-2018. Out of these 531 journals, almost 65% of the journals do not charge publication cost. It is also important to notice that a few journals are redirecting to risky URL which is concerning as there are chances, it has been stolen by some other company. For the analysis I looked at each journal from Medknow’s website on an alphabetical basis. The charges for each journal are mentioned in a different manner. Some of the journals directly states the cost they charge however; few charges are based of the article type as mentioned below:

  • Short communications
  • Case Reports
  • Original Articles
  • Qualitative Research
  • Review Articles
  • Number of words

The below graph shows the representation of charges being taken by Medknow for 2019.

Out of 104 journals that are charging APC, below table shows the distribution of charges based on different currencies for the year 2019.

Most journals are charging in INR and USD. It is to be noticed as the journal originally started from India, but they started taking the publication cost in various other currencies as well which could be confusing for potential authors. Even for INR, there is no fixed cost and it is varying depending on each journal. There are few journals who are not charging for Indian authors but have mentioned publication costs for writers outside India. Have a look at the chart below:

This is a variation and we cannot suggest on a pattern of the publication cost. Below table shows the numbers currency wise:

If we look at the data from 2018, we can see that there has been both increase and decrease in the publication cost for the journals. There has been an increase of 16% in the journals whose title were not found, and this is subsequent to notice as Medknow being one of the well-known publishers does not have websites for so many journals! These journals have not been listed as ceased or nothing specific has been mentioned related to them. There are just 3% journals who showed a price drop but 4% increased the cost. At one side most journals are not charging publication fees but few of them have relatively increased their cost.

Please refer the below table for APC statistics comparison based on different currencies

Looking at the above table, I feel that it is relatively high cost to take for publishing a journal. In todays world, 8000 – 10000 INR would be a week’s salary of a corporate employee in a non metro city. Again, it depends from author to author, but the charge should be in a cap where its not too high. USD, EGP and IRR seem to be balanced as compared to charges being taken in INR globally.

References:

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/20/oa-main-2019-dataset-documentation-and-open-peer-review-invitation/

Brutus, W. & Morrison, H. (2016). Medknow 2016: it’s complicated! Sustaining the knowledge commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/10/11/medknow-2016-its-complicated/

Fernandez, L. (2006). Open Access Initiatives in India – an Evaluation. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v1i1.110

Pasha, H. & Morrison, H (2018). Medknow in 2018: growing fast! | Sustaining the Knowledge Commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/12/13/medknow-in-2018-growing-fast/

Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/23/oa-journals-non-charging-and-charging-central-trends-2010-2019/

Cite as: Avasthi, N & Morrison, H (2019). Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India? Sustaining the Knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/23/medknow-2019-is-this-the-best-for-india/

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