The company is currently sending out personalized spam emails to many researchers, using the spam email service called SendGrid.
As the above screenshot of the spam shows, ScienceOpen is trying to convince scholars to stop sending their work to preprint servers such as arXiv and to subscription journals and instead submit exclusively to ScienceOpen.
Is this heavy-handed marketing or is it innovation? The publisher very cleverly takes advantage of content released under the CC BY license, republishing it and then emailing researchers to show them their work in a new context. It does appears that ScienceOpen is adding value to the works it republishes, providing space for comments on each article, altmetrics, star ratings, reviews, and the like.
On the other hand, here are some (anonymous) comments from the researcher who forwarded me the ScienceOpen spam email:
I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with platforms allowing to share and discuss articles. In fact, repositories such as arXiv have provided a manner of Open Access for 20 years. There might be interesting possibilities in combining this with tools from modern web technology, if it is done carefully.
What I think is questionable about the way ScienceOpen work can be summarised as follows:
1) Sending unsolicited mail
2) The question of peer review
3) The hefty APC (800 dollars according to their web site)
Let me elaborate about 2, peer review: As for many other OA journals, they do not seem to aim at a specific area of research. This is reflected by the fact that I know only one person by name in their editorial board.
I cannot believe they will be able to set up a decent peer review in such a short time, because this requires a sufficient number of competent editors with a good network of potential referees. It would be better if they concentrated on a more narrow field and slowly expand from there.
The journal uses the post-publication peer-review model. It is a startup company funded by venture capital; it is apparently not a non-profit. It enters an already crowded open-access publishing market, a market rich with risk-taking and innovation.
Perhaps seeking popular acceptance, ScienceOpen dismisses the impact factor as a “relic from the subscription-based era of publishing.” You’re automatically cool if you trash the impact factor.
The article processing charge of $800 includes up to two revisions within a year. What if a paper needs additional revisions? I could not find the answer to this question.
This publisher stands out for the researcher-networking infrastructure it has created. But will busy researchers contribute the content required to make the website successful?
Are preprint servers such as arXiv destined for obsolescence? ScienceOpen is betting that they are.
I also question whether ScienceOpen can re-publish articles licensed under a CC BY NC (non-commercial) license. That is to say, is it a commercial operation and therefore not authorized to copy CC BY NC-licensed content?