Why do we need open access? - Healthcare Infection Society
16 July 2019
Why do we need an open access journal, when we have the JHI?
Many Societies publish journals that serve a global readership, sharing new research, experience and best practice with diverse communities.
Scholarly publishing is changing, and these changes will affect the Healthcare Infection Society’s ability to support the IPC community.

Why do Society journals matter?

Society journals have existed since 1665, when the Royal Society published the first of what we would now view as a scientific ‘journal’: Philosophical Transactions. It was created, run by and delivered to Society members using a model that is recognisable today - where an author submits a paper, which is reviewed by peers and subsequently rejected or accepted for publication.

The primary source of income for HIS comes from sales of institutional subscriptions to the Journal of Hospital Infection (JHI), which are brokered by our publisher, Elsevier.  The JHI, along with the Society, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020.  The Journal continues to thrive (in July 2019 the Impact Factor increased to 3.704), and continues to enjoy an extensive readership because of the knowledge the content brings to the IPC community (and thus the furtherance of the Society’s aims).

The income from subscriptions and open access fees for our journals are directly reinvested into the HIS running costs, grants and training programmes, allowing us to deliver a programme of expert-led events at low or no cost, and to provide funding to IPC research and careers.

However, there is growing discontent amongst funders, authors, reviewers, readers and subscribers of journals regarding the perceived profit margins of the larger commercial publishers.   

The future of Society publishing is uncertain

This discontent, along with decreasing revenues from sales of library and institutional subscriptions, and the increasing popularity of open access publishing, is driving changes in the publishing environment.

This year, we launched Infection Prevention in Practice (IPIP), a new gold open access journal. IPIP focuses on global IPC including lower-income countries and emerging economies, reflecting an increased need for global cooperation on matters such as antimicrobial resistance, and novel infection patterns seen due to global warming.

The launch of IPIP is specifically aligned to the Society’s strategy to ensure we future-proof our publishing operations in response to the changing publishing environment, whilst still achieving our charitable aims.

Why do we need an open access journal, when we have the JHI?

A new initiative known as Plan S is currently disrupting the publishing community – a large coalition of funders and organisations have created a plan (Plan S) that will dictate that all their funded research must be published in a fully open access journal (like IPIP) after 2020. The JHI (a hybrid journal which publishes subscription and open access-accessible content) does not qualify as a Plan S compliant publication platform unless we enter into a transitional arrangement to commit to move towards open access.

The Society agrees that open access publication benefits the IPC community by making research more easily discoverable, but we are also aware that many authors are unable to pay the article processing charges to publish in open access journals. IPIP’s open access article processing charges (APCs) were deliberately set to be well below market standards, in recognition of the fact that many of our authors simply have no research funding. 

We hope IPIP will make open access accessible to all, however we will continue to offer free publications in the JHI, which remains a hybrid publishing model, containing both open access and subscription-accessible content.

By contributing to a Society journal as an author, reader, editor or reviewer, you are not just furthering the knowledge in your area – you are safeguarding the future of HIS, supporting the IPC community who benefit from Society activities, and ultimately improving patient care.  Thank you for your support.

All statistics in this blog have been derived from the STM report 5th edition, October 2018: https://www.stm-assoc.org/2018_10_04_STM_Report_2018.pdf