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Open Access increases Impact Factor? – interview with Gregor Serša

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Today we present an interview with prof. Gregor Serša, the editor-in-chief of Radiology and Oncology, the Journal of Association of Radiology and Oncology, published by De Gruyter Open, with an Impact Factor of 1.602 in 2012. Professor Serša is also a researcher at the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana. His main fields of interest are electroporation in targeted delivery of cytostatics into tumors (the research has already reached the clinical phase), and recently, electrogene therapy (a research field that has great prospects to be translated into clinical practice).

First of all, please tell me a little about the Radiology and Oncology journal in general?

The journal was founded in 1964 as Radiologia Iugoslavica, a periodic for Yugoslavian countries, concerning radiology and radiotherapy. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the journal was renamed to Radiology and Oncology, so we broadened our field from cancer radiology to oncology. We have also turned to publishing in English. Currently our primary fields are clinical oncology and experimental oncology, but we also cover other areas such as computer tomography, magnetic resonance and nuclear medicine, as far as radiobiology, radiophysics and radiation. In fact, the journal covers quite a board range of disciplines connected to oncology.

When and why have you decided to transform your journal to Open Access?

In 2007 we started cooperation with Versita (which is now De Gruyter Open) and then we turned our electronic issue to the Open Access model.

We made this decision with a view of gaining a boarder audience, as well as to get citations and submissions from the international community. But personally I think that Open Access is a must. It is our obligation as scientists to ensure that our results are available to everyone, and to give all professionals and non-professionals an opportunity to follow the most up to date developments.

What do you think about Open Access as an author?

Open Access is definitely of huge advantage to authors. I always try to publish my articles in the Open Access model. As a scientist, I am also a reader and unimpeded access to the right article at the right time is very important. So it is in my interest advocate Open Access to the whole scientific community.

However, sometimes the cost of Open Access publishing is a problem. Recently, we had a paper accepted for publication in a very good journal, which is subscription based. The price for the Open Access option in this journal is 3000 euro. And this does not include the other costs, which you have to cover even to publish in the traditional model in this journal. So I think it is better to publish in full Open Access journals that charge only a single fee, which is usually lower.

The majority of Open Access journals are quite new, and although a lot of them do a good job, only some of them have been able to gain significant Impact Factors. Compared to those, Radiology and Oncology with an Impact Factor of around 1.6 seems to be successful. What are, in your opinion, the major factors of this success?

Increasing the quality of a journal and the quality of papers published by the journal entails a lot of work. It grows steadily when you work hard, and it takes a lot of time, especially when the competition is very hard.

Do you think that Open Access has a positive influence on your journals’ Impact Factor?

Yes! When you look at the statistics on our website – visits and downloads, you will see that it has grown significantly due to Open Access, and of course it has influenced our citations and Impact Factor. It is all connected.

If you were to advice somebody on how to increase Impact Factor, what would be the most important thing to point out?

Quality. And then visibility.

How is Radiology and Oncology funded?

We sell a printed version, which also contains advertisements and we charge authors for publishing – at this moment with 500 euro + VAT. I think we will move away from printing copies, so we will need to strengthen this source of funding. This year we introduced a strict policy of charging authors for publication. In previous years it was voluntary, but now we charge every author. Due to this fact our inflow of submissions decreased, but not much, and we still we have enough articles. In addition, I would say that quality of the papers improved. Thus, I encourage De Gruyter and other publishers to take all the necessary actions to switch their journals to on-line, Open Access publishing. It would increase their impact and it would be big step forward, profitable for all parties.

Why have you decided to start cooperation with a professional publisher?

Because of the services concerning archiving in repositories as well as abstracting and indexing. De Gruyter Open also manages our on-line publications, while we remain independent. We have control on the editorial process and we distribute printed versions. This cooperation does not impede our editorial freedom, but it supports our policy to aim at high quality.

What are your plans for further journal development?

As I mentioned earlier, I think we will give up printing our journal and then we will be able to concentrate exclusively on editorial work only, free from technical problems.

Good luck then, and thank you!

Photo: Kiberpipa

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