Scientific publishing is in the midst of major changes. The digital revolution has opened the door to revolutionary changes in nearly every aspect of the publishing process, including the peer review process, the editing and publication process, distribution of content, validation of the scientific work and use of the knowledge contained in a manuscript (Stafford, 2010). In the upcoming issues of Andrology, we will periodically comment on certain aspects of the publishing process and the directions and changes we foresee in the publication of Andrology, as well as our concerns in how such changes may affect you, the researcher and/or recipient of the content of the journal.

Scientific publishing is an essential part of the work that we as researchers and clinicians perform. The foundation of scientific progress is the availability of honest, well-designed, peer-reviewed, validated studies. While the speed at which that process happens is never as fast as we may like, deficiencies in any of the steps may lead to wasted resources, risk to patients, failed therapies, distrust of the validity of scientific work and many other possible negative outcomes. On the positive side, advances in any of the steps may improve the overall usefulness of scientific publishing.

One of the most important paradigm shifts in publishing has been the push for ‘open-access’ publishing (Jones, 2012). The premise of open access publishing is the laudatory goal of having immediate, or at the very least more rapid, accessibility of the published manuscripts to any interested party via the internet. An additional important argument is that science is largely paid for by public funds and the members of the public should not be forced to pay again for access to the results of the research. Recently, several government funding agencies have implemented policies that require grant recipients to publish their manuscripts in open access journals. Our view is that such steps are generally positive, and we support this movement. However, the move to open access publishing is also constrained by certain economic realities, not the least of which is that publishing is not without costs, and high-quality journals are generally published by ‘for-profit’ corporations that expect a reasonable return on their investment.

Andrology is currently published by Wiley-Blackwell, a corporation with a long and illustrious history in scientific publishing. Their support and assistance in the merger that resulted in Andrology was invaluable, and the high quality that we have seen thus far in the finished product is impressive. Additionally, high-quality publishers, such as Wiley-Blackwell, provide numerous other services, including archiving of manuscripts and support of society publications. The Wiley-Blackwell policy for the release of manuscripts to open access is immediate when an author publishing charge (APC) is paid, or 1 year for all other published content. We as the editors of Andrology encourage them to continue to assure that all researchers, regardless of the specific policies of their funding agencies, can contribute their manuscripts to Andrology with minimal or no fee. In the short term, additional fees for open access may be necessary, but such fees should not be excessive and should be an interim aid to solving the long-term issue. This will require flexibility and creativity from the publishers and the scientific community, but it is a worthy and necessary goal.

One of the repercussions of open access publishing has been the explosion in the development of online, open access journals. While some of these journals are legitimate and useful, many of the journals fall under the category of ‘predatory publishing’. Predatory publishers generally charge significant fees for publishing in their journal (often between $1000 and $4000) and the peer review process is often lacking completely, or is cursory at best (Beall, 2012). The success of many of these journals highlights the temptation to which some researchers are succumbing to publish at any cost, despite the circumventing of the foundation of honest peer review. Such actions cheapen the work of legitimate researchers and increase the risk of errors and scientific fraud. Ultimately, it is certain that funding agencies and academic institutions that need to measure a researcher's productivity will develop metrics that easily identify manuscripts that have not undergone legitimate peer review. However, the negative effects of predatory publishing are broader than academic promotion and grant funding.

We, as the editors of Andrology, ensure you that we have set policies and procedures to assure that all manuscripts submitted to Andrology receive a fair peer review process (we will discuss the peer review process in more depth in a future issue of Andrology). The honest peer review of a manuscript not only lends validity to the resulting manuscript but very often aids the researcher in publishing an improved manuscript. This leads to less chance of errors and increased trust by the reader. We support the shift to rapid open access of all manuscripts, and will continue to work with our publisher to reach that goal. However, in the rush to open access publishing we encourage all researchers to resist the easy path of publishing in journals that are fee based and peer review deficient. Real science demands such integrity.


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