A few words on sound science, megajournals, and an announcement about SpringerPlus

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(Guest post by Steven Inchcoombe and Heinz Weinheimer)

Some of the most exciting changes driven by the internet, and the development of open access publishing in the last few years include the explosion in sound science publishing, partly fuelled by megajournals.

Publishers are still experimenting with the megajournal model. The STM Association describes megajournals as “characterized by three features: full open access with a relatively low publication charge; rapid ‘non-selective’ peer review based on ‘soundness not significance’ (i.e. selecting papers on the basis that science is soundly conducted rather than more subjective criteria of impact, significance or relevance to a particularly community); and a very broad subject scope.”

Today we announce that we are ceasing to accept new submissions to SpringerPlus. So what can publishers do to create a sustainable ecosystem, and can the megajournal work as a long-term model?

The growth of sound science

Originally, print journals were restricted by the number of pages they could physically produce on the printing presses, and every extra spread added considerable cost. This model led to selective journals, run by highly trained in-house staff, accepting only the most ground-breaking papers. Whilst these have now also moved online, the benefit of these journals in the modern age is that they act as a filter, selecting the most important developments for the scientific community to read.

In an online world, page numbers and word counts can lose some of their importance. For journals which are not as selective, we can now publish as much research as the community wants to read, at a lower cost. All sound science can be made accessible, no matter what level the impact. From newsworthy, head-turning papers, to the papers of interest only to niche disciplines, and even negative results—everything can be shared. So long, of course, as the science is peer reviewed, and found to be correct and “sound.”

The benefits of publishing sound science have been embraced by the scientific community, and there are many sound science journals spread across disciplines. Springer Nature publishes the BMC series, for instance, where each journal caters to its own discipline, from genomics to zoology. But in recent years, the megajournals have garnered the most attention from the publishing community, as they have grown incredibly quickly. Almost every publisher now has a megajournal.

An announcement about SpringerPlus

At Springer Nature, we publish two megajournals. Scientific Reports covers the natural sciences and published almost 15,000 articles in 2015. It has grown at a phenomenal rate.

SpringerPlus, our other megajournal, covers all disciplines, from the natural physical sciences to maths, engineering, the social sciences and humanities. We believe that it was the first and only journal truly covering all disciplines, designed so that an author would never be told that their work was out of scope.

A detailed analysis of these two existing megajournals after the merger led to the decision to streamline our portfolio. We have concluded that SpringerPlus is not sustainable in its current form. We have taken the decision to stop accepting submissions to SpringerPlus as of today, although we expect that it will continue to publish until the end of the year. Of course, this content, as well as all existing research published in SpringerPlus will continue to be preserved, online, discoverable, citable and accessible, without limitation.

Where next?

Publishers are still experimenting with open access business models. We know that different disciplines have very different needs. Open access is far more established in the clinical and natural sciences, where it is supported by funder mandates, and those disciplines have more money to support Article Processing Charges than other disciplines. Increasingly, we have found that researchers in the HSS (humanities and social sciences) and TEM (Technical Engineering and Mathematics) subjects prefer to publish in journals which cater specifically to them, for example journals in the SpringerOpen portfolio. When you look at the wider publishing landscape, the megajournals which have had the most success (PLOS ONE, Scientific Reports) cater to a select range of disciplines.

We are proud of SpringerPlus and of what it has achieved since its inception in January 2012. We would like to personally thank each and every author, peer reviewer and editor who has worked to make SpringerPlus a success thus far. We value their contributions, and hope to continue to work with them on other initiatives.

There are many other sound science options within the Springer Nature portfolio, and we are still committed to finding a home for all sound research across all disciplines including clinical medicine, natural and physical sciences, engineering, humanities, and the social sciences.  All robust research deserves to be read and built on, in the quest for expanding the sum of what we know about ourselves and our universe.  We will continue to experiment with publishing models, with the aim of adding our own small contribution to the progression of science.

  • —Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer, Springer Nature
  • —Heinz Weinheimer, Managing Director, Springer Research Group

UPDATE June 15, 2016: Thank you to those that have posted questions in the comments on this blog. If you have specific questions about your manuscript or article, please contact the editorial office at info@springeropen.com

For general questions, we have prepared an FAQ that provides information about indexing, impact factors, and more.

View the latest posts on the SpringerOpen blog homepage

40 Comments

Belay Duguma

I have received a message that SpringerPlus is going cease accepting new submission and accepted articles will be published. It is a bad news for us from developing countries to miss the journal.

Is there a hope for the Springerplus to receive the planned impact factor in June, even if it ceases accepting new submissions?

Are the other natural science journals that replace it within springerOpen?

Editor
Scott Epstein

I can suggest the BMC Series if your submission is in biomedicine, medicine, or the life sciences; Scientific Reports also covers all areas of the natural sciences. And, yes, SpringerPlus will still get its 2015 Impact Factor. Thanks.

Biswapriya Misra

Scientific Reports?
It has been holding my research manuscript for last 4 months and the team does not respond! With editor ever since! It has been a joke contacting the team/ editorial! Been a pain for 4+ months now. Unsure how the team responds to queries from authors. But, most unfortunate experience.

SpringerPlus quality from developing countries would not match the expensive and better quality Scientific Reports!

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

walaa shahin

If you are planning to stop new submissions , what about your first impact factor you are announcing to be in June 2016, still you will receive it or not and when ?

Editor
Scott Epstein

Yes, there will still be an Impact Factor, this month. Thanks.

Radek Silhavy

As Collection Editor and Board Member for SpringerPlus I only do not understand only one little think. It is clear that merging Springer and “Nature” brings change to focus on SR for BMC. But why not to keep SpringerPlus for TEM segment? There is no such journal for this field? I have received many request of explanation from my collegues…

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

HanWang

Hi, the words “If you have a manuscript currently under consideration for publication in SpringerPlus, we would like to reassure you that there is no need to resubmit your manuscript to another journal as all manuscripts already submitted will be published in SpringerPlus, subject to editorial acceptance.” Can i take it that all manuscripts already submitted will be accepted and published in SpringerPlus without further review? What does ‘ subject to editorial acceptance’ mean? The editor will still reject the submitted manuscripts? But theSpringerPlus reassures authors that there is no need to resubmit the manuscript to another journal.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Sanders

Hi,

According to this year’s SJR rank, SpringerPlus journal was ranked 16/111= top 14% (Q1). You can only adjust your scope and/or operation way. I still could not understand why did you stop running this good journal.

Sanders

Modere Mader

How can we now check the status of the manuscript under review since the author’s link is gone ? How about the APC? Are you charging the authors with under review articles the same price given that Springer Plus is closing? Please clarify.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Dr chen

We know that the impact factor represents the article before 2015,what about the articles in 2016? Are they have factor?hope for your reply .thank you

xiaZJ

One of my student submitted a paper to SpringerPlus, she will get her doctoral degree conditioned by her paper will be accepted and SpringerPlus is still a SCI journal, since the journal accournced ‘ getting IF in June this year”, anything will be changed after the accouncement of cealing to accept new submisssion?Thanks. ZJ Xia

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Atif

I am not sure why SpringerPlus is ceasing publications. The journal was progressing well and now it is receiving impact factor as well.
Is there any hope that it will be started again in 2017 with a new name and scope?
I would like to request the editorial team to make decisions on pending articles as soon as possible.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Ketao Jin

Dear Editor,
We are eager to know when we will receive the final decision of our manuscript submittedto SpringerPlus. We can not follow the review process as the online submission system was closed.

Kind regards

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Modere Mader

Please have a designated staff to answer the emails of the folks instead of an open blog like this. I think we deserve someone to communicate with after hearing that your publication is ceasing. Please be fair and don’t make it just one way mode of communication where you can just choose who you want to answer and ignore the others. Please be reasonable. Some of these folks are working in publish or perish facilities. For example, it will be great if you assign a staff to follow up on manuscripts under review, another one to do the approved manuscripts, etc. In my opinion, you should have thought of these before you made the announcement. This is so frustrating!

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thank you for your constructive criticism. Our team is currently looking at the individual comments that have come in. We will get back to you as soon as we can. We consider all input valuable and of course it deserves a reply.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thank you for your constructive criticism. Our team is currently looking at the individual comments that have come in. We will get back to you as soon as we can. We consider all input valuable and of course it deserves a reply.

Editor
Scott Epstein

Thanks for your enquiry. The SpringerPlus team has contacted you directly to respond.

Comments are closed.