IntechOpen, founded in 2004, is a scientific community of authors and editors built by scientists for scientists to provide a collaborative environment for peer-reviewed academic research, according to Dr. Anke Beck who became CEO in August 2018. In its role as an Open Access publisher of books and anthologies, she says, IntechOpen seeks to level the research playing field and promoting an environment that is democratic and inclusive.
“We focus on books where we believe there’s a greater space for ideas to flourish, and for collections of ideas to come together,” Beck says.
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“In a talk in Berlin at Academic Publishing in Europe conference, I referred to open access book publishing as the Cinderella of publishing because it opens that space where scientists can shed light on a given scientific problem in more detail,” she explains. “Book publishing, I think, serves much, much better the scientific discussion than scattered articles in a journal.”
ANKE BECK: What we focus on is on the STEM fields at large, while not excluding the social sciences, but this is not really our focus. I think we take pride in embracing the scientific world at large, and not focusing only on the Western world. That is something also important to me because I think there were so many articles so far and so many research being done that the current traditional publishing excludes so many good brains, important brains. I think open access has revolutionized the science or the research, as such. I do think that we cannot afford to lose the 90% of academics the traditional publishing excludes so far. I know that this is some sort of statement, but I do think that the open access paradigm is not only about saving money, but it’s very much about including another stratum of fine brains into this world.
CHRISTOPHER KENNEALLY: Let’s talk about the authors, then. You’ve given us an idea of some of the range of authors who participate in your publishing programs. What do they tell you about why they choose to publish with IntechOpen?
AB: I think it is important to note that it is not the beginners who publish with IntechOpen, it is those who have made their career. It is those who have published in their impact factor journals and they got tenure. So we are not a Ph.D. publisher, even though we would not exclude very, very excellent Ph.D.s, so this is not a statement against beginners in their career. But our clientele, and we have done the research on that, is more about those who are established scientists who believe in the open access paradigm and the necessity to share and to give back to the science community. We have for example – I mentioned that IntechOpen is very proud to include many stratums of scientists, do not focus on core countries. I’m not sure whether this is a PC – this is politically correct, talking about core countries in scholarly research, but to include others.
But we also have a program and we focus on women in science, and that has the objective of encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM fields. This has been an issue on the global agenda for many years, and there is still a lot to be done. But in this program, we aim to publish roughly 100 books in three years, and we look for third party funding, so authors do not have to cover the open access fee, which is a service fee. The books are all edited by women who are leader in the subject, and they come from all over the globe and include, for example, the L’Oréal, (sp?) UNESCO for Women in Science Award winners or women from the National Science Foundation or the European Commission. So these are the kind of people who see the benefits of open access publishing to gain visibility and to gain immediate impact and receive citations and simply to share their views with other scientists and work on the same problems.
CK: It’s fascinating to hear about the place is evocation of your ambitions… Focusing on collaboration, which you can do there in the building. But I also know that there’s a commitment there to quality in terms of the publishing that you do. Tell us about that.
AB: We work like any other publisher. I think what you referred to is the animal in the room, and that is that IntechOpen, quite wrongly, I think, appeared on the Beall’s list for predatory publishers, and that was very much about the lack of – or supposedly lack of proper reviewing for the journals business they have done. So I think I’m particularly cross with everything which has to do with the Beall’s list because these problems have been addressed and solved. I think Beall’s and what he has done had a place at the time when it was established, but I think it should also acknowledge that publishers move on and solve their problems.
In 2016 Beall’s listed on his list, of course they were “cleared” and then they were sold to Sage, and they have carried out an extensive analysis of all of our editorial practices before the purchase, and they have checked all the peer review that had been carried out independently and in line with industry standards. If not we could not work with, at that time, the owners – I wasn’t a part of it – couldn’t have sold the journals.
And now our quality standards are, firstly we apply the usual quality standards around the international publishing process including, of course, peer-reviewing, which we will come back to. I also believe that the post-publication usage of the global community is a marker of quality, and we offer as a combination of statistics drawn from our platform as well as independent metrics from altmetrics and dimensions. This is what every reader can see. This is a quality standard, so for example the number of downloads or citations from the community of readers.
So talking about the publication process, we completely comply to what I would call an industry norm and industry-established editorial process. So every abstract submission is scientifically checked to evaluate its suitability. Only when it has passed that check, then it goes to a plagiarism check – we use iThenticate. So then you already have the first quality standard that this is something which is not plagiarism. Then we invite the author to fully submit a chapter, then we send it out to peer review. We have a huge database of reviewers. We enlarge that reviewer base in conjunction with a board. Then either chapters or entire books are accepted or rejected. So that’s literally like every other publisher does. We have published our peer-reviewing process on our website, and therefore, I think IntechOpen or open access publishers as such, they do not behave differently from any other traditional publishers.
I think it is absolutely dangerous to jump to conclusions that open access is without quality checks just because it is open and just because you pay for the reviews. I think all of us who have worked in the industry so long, we know what quality checks are also in traditional publishing houses.
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