October 23rd, 2013

Open Heart: Will It Open the Way for Data Sharing?

CardioExchange editors Harlan Krumholz and John Ryan interviewed Pascal Meier about his new endeavor as Editor-in-Chief of Open Heart, an online-only, open-access journal set to launch in early 2014. It will be published by BMJ and the British Cardiovascular Society. 

Krumholz and Ryan: Why did you want to start an open-access cardiology journal?

Meier: Although there are many established traditional cardiology journals, all are limited in the amount of research that they can publish in print. Consequently, they have to prioritize articles, usually based on how novel, topical, and citable they are. I am also working as Associate Editor for BMJ’s journal Heart and I know that there have been lots of high-quality, important articles which we had to turn down for this exact reason.

The global research activity continues to grow and we have to make sure the findings will also get published. Unpublished study results are a major concern leading to “publication bias” and distorting the view of what is effective and what is not. Open Heart will help to alleviate this problem. It will be fundamentally different from the current print-based journals. As an online-only, open-access journal, it doesn’t suffer from the space constraints of traditional print serials and doesn’t need to be so selective.

Many authors are now required to publish their research papers as open access in order to comply with their funder or institutional mandates. It therefore makes sense for new titles to reflect the changes happening in research and academia.

Krumholz and Ryan: When you talk about open data, will you require authors to share all their data when the paper is submitted? How will that work?

Meier: We need to move to “open data” and we strongly support the AllTrials initiative.  For non-commercial drug or device trials, data sharing won’t be mandatory for non-commercial studies, but we will be encouraging authors to make their data available via a specialist data repository (such as Dryad) or an institutional repository, as supplementary files attached to the article, or upon request from readers.

Data sharing is important to improve transparency and reduce duplication of effort within the community, but we recognize that authors may be prevented from sharing some data for legal or competitive reasons. We’ll also encourage authors to publish research protocols with us which will be peer-reviewed and may provide valuable input, helping to improve the quality of the planned study.

Krumholz and Ryan: What is your goal from submission of a paper to publishing the paper online? Does the quick turnaround time raise concern about accuracy of review or reliability of data?

Meier: Beyond the standard submission process, we are implementing a fast-track model whereby authors will be able to submit just their abstract initially and we will make a quick decision about whether or not we’re interested in the full article. The aim is to avoid wasting authors’ and reviewers’ time with manuscripts that are out of scope or have fundamental flaws in their methodology.

Open Heart will benefit from BMJ‘s impressive turnaround times from acceptance to online publication — the average is just 22 days and continues to improve. However, scientific soundness has highest priority. The editorial committee includes statisticians and every paper will be statistically reviewed. Our editorial team also includes several people from the Cochrane Collaboration (Cochrane Heart Group).

Krumholz and Ryan: How much will it cost authors to publish?

Meier: The standard Article Processing Charge will be £1700, with a 50% discount for authors publishing protocols. Members of the British Cardiovascular Society will receive a 25% discount, as will anyone that has reviewed for Open Heart within the previous year and those who agree to data sharing. We hope this will encourage reviewers to work for us and publish with us. Open Heart will offer waivers or discounts to authors from Hinari Group A and B countries and to authors that are unable to pay the full amount.

Krumholz and Ryan: From whom will your journal accept articles?

Meier: Any researcher who aims to publish methodologically sound cardiovascular research and is aiming for high visibility. We will also use social media, the blogosphere, and BMJ’s contacts with medical journalists to further increase the impact of the published work. Even though we will be very thorough with the review process, we aim for a very constructive approach and to actively help researchers where need be. We will apply an open peer-review approach where peer reviewers have to declare their identity. We think this will improve transparency and will make the process more constructive.

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