Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Where on earth to publish? A sample survey comparing traditional and open access publishing in the oncological field

Elisabetta Poltronieri1*, Elena Bravo2, Tiziana Camerini3, Maurizio Ferri4, Roberto Rizzo5, Renata Solimini6 and Gaetana Cognetti5

Author Affiliations

1 Publishing Unit, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

2 Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

3 Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy

4 Data Management Unit, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

5 Scientific and Patient Library, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy

6 Department of Therapeutic Research and Medicines Evaluation, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

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Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 2013, 32:4  doi:10.1186/1756-9966-32-4

Published: 22 January 2013



The paper intends to help scientific authors to make the best choice of journals in which to publish, by describing and comparing journal features in the area of oncology. For this purpose, the authors identified impact factor (IF) ranking, cost options and copyright conditions offered to authors wishing to publish in full open access (OA), subscription-based or hybrid journals.


Data referring to articles published in 2010 by three Italian research institutions (National Institute of Health – Rome (ISS), Regina Elena National Cancer Institute – Rome (IRE), National Cancer Institute – Milan (INT) in journals (78) managed according to different business models, all listed in the Journal Citation Reports, subject category Oncology, were collected and analysed. The journals surveyed were ranked according to IF, position in quartiles, publication charges, usage rights in published articles, self-archiving conditions in OAI-compliant repositories digital archives.


Almost half (34) the journals surveyed were included in the first quartile, thus revealing authors’ preference for journals with a high IF. The prevalent journal business model was the hybrid formula (based on subscriptions but also offering a paid OA option) with 51 journals, followed by subscription-based only journals accounting for 22, while just 5 full OA journals were identified. In general, no relationship was found between IF and article publication charges, in terms of correspondence between more expensive fees and higher IF.


The issue of OA journals as compared with traditional subscription-based journals is highly debated among stakeholders: library administrators facing financial restrictions, authors seeking to locate the best outlet for their research, publishers wishing to increase their revenues by offering journals with wider appeal. Against this background, factors such as the quest for alternatives to high-cost business models, investments in setting up institutional repositories hosting the published versions of articles and efforts to overcome copyright barriers and gain free access to scientific literature are all crucial.

Open access publishing; Scientific publications; Oncology; Surveys; Italy