BMJ - Head To Head: Should I publish in an open access journal?

18 April, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

This week's print BMJ (20 April) carries a 2-page debate on the question: Should I publish in an open access journal?

CITATION: Head To Head: Should I publish in an open access journal?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 18 April 2019)

Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1544

Ironically the debate is restricted-access although of course those affiliated with Hinari will be able to access it.

Arguing for "Yes", UK gastroenterologists Matthew Kurien and David Sanders say: "Open access publishing is the only fair way to make research accessible to all, facilitating quicker changes to medical practice and benefits for patients. All doctors and researchers have a collective responsibility to promote this innovation."

James J Ashton and Mark Beattie (also UK gastroenterologists) say "If all researchers could afford the publication fees (typically $2000-$3000 (£1530-£2290; €1770-€2660)), open access would be preferable. But not all researchers can... These fees are a hurdle for researchers with limited funds or from developing countries" (not acknowledging that the leading OA publishers generally have waivers in place for authors from low-income countries). They also argue that 'Preferentially disseminating industry funded work [whose auithors would be more likely than unsupported authors to afford the author processing charge] risks biasing the evidence base towards commercially driven results'. (This last point is an interesting one that I have not previously come across.)

It's interesting that both sets of authors point to the fact that OA articles are 2-3 times more likely to be citied. Kurien and Sanders see this as an argument for OA, while Ashton and Beattie see it as an argument against.

It would be interesting also to know the level of support for OA across different specialties, different groups of health professionals (and researchers), and different countries.

Please share any comments here on HIFA ( and/or you can respond directly to The BMJ via 'Respond to this article' at:

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Access to Health Research

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: