The memorable date 20/02/2020 saw the publication by MIT Press of the first issue of Volume One of a new journal, Quantitative Science Studies (QSS), the official open access journal of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). QSS’s Editor in Chief is Ludo Waltman (CWTS, University of Leiden, Netherlands), Vincent Larivière (Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and Staša Milojević (Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA) are its Associate Editors, and it has a large and distinguished editorial board.
What makes the launch of this new journal remarkable is the story of how it came into being. In 2019, the entire editorial team of the Journal of Informetrics (JOI), a leading journal in this field published by Elsevier, resigned en masse and decided to start an alternative journal, QSS, both because of Elsevier’s position on open citations, and because, in their opinion, the financial model used by Elsevier violates the scientific ethos.
Reproducibility in the field of scientometrics requires scientific metadata that are both of high-quality and open, particularly those relating to bibliographic citations. The JOI editorial board was deeply concerned by the refusal of Elsevier to join almost all other large scholarly publishers in supporting the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC). As we have previously reported on this blog, Elsevier is the largest contributor of bibliographic references to Crossref, but insists that these data should be kept closed.
Elsevier’s position, driven by commercial interests (since it sells access to citation data through Scopus), flies in the face of the scientific community’s clear move towards open science, with hundreds of scientometricians having signed an ISSI open letter urging scholarly publishers to support I4OC.
Science is a self-governing system, and the editorial team held the view that the ultimate responsibility for a scholarly journal should fall with the scientific community, who serve as the gatekeepers, producers, and consumers of scientific content.
The editorial team also believed Elsevier’s subscription fees to be excessive, and its article processing charges (APCs) for open access publishing to be unfairly high, thus limiting both those who can afford to read Elsevier journals and those who can afford to publish in them, so that publishing with Elsevier inevitably places major limits on scholarship, harming both science and society. It was for all these reasons that they forsook JOI and started QSS.
We at OpenCitations congratulate the editorial team for their courage in deciding to make this journal flip, and wish them, together with the ISSI and MIT Press, every success for this important new journal. We also commend the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and the Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM) of the University of Konstanz, who, in collaboration with the Fair Open Access Alliance (FOAA), have generously agreed to cover APCs for the first three years of the QSS journal.