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Reflections February 2019

Janet Cole

ASHS President


Choosing a Journal in which to Publish



As the ASHS Board of Directors has discussed the three ASHS journals and how best to keep them competitive over the past year or two, I have learned a lot about publications that I never knew before. Along with many benefits, publishing today has a lot of pitfalls, and I hope I can share some of what I have learned so that others might not fall into those holes in the path.


The reason for so much Board discussion of our journals is because journal subscriptions, particularly library subscriptions, have decreased substantially the past several years.  When we think about the budgets of most universities, this is not difficult to understand. As budgets decrease, we have to consider what we can do without. Libraries are increasingly utilizing open access journals to decrease subscription costs.


At the same time, agencies that fund grants are increasingly requiring those who are awarded grant funding to publish in open-access journals so that the work is readily available to others.  Thus, authors are investigating open-access journals.


I don’t know about everybody else, but I get constant e-mail requests to publish in journals, many of which I have not previously heard of.  No doubt some are on the up and up, but one of the things I learned in Board discussions is that there are a lot of “predatory” journals out there.  According to Megan O’Donnell at the Iowa State University library, “A predatory publisher is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits the academic need to publish but offers little reward for those using their services”.  Read more about predatory journals at  I have done some searching online and found that there are lists of predatory journals to avoid and some guidelines for how to avoid those journals.


So how does all of this affect our ASHS journals?  Well, our journals need to provide high-quality articles that are available to anybody who wants to see them.  In the past, we have had a 3-year embargo on our refereed publications so that our members and subscribers had first access to the information published.  After much discussion, the Board voted to convert HortTechnology to open access and publish ahead of print.  That conversion has taken place, with the first open access publication of HortTechnology in January of 2019.  The Board had many concerns about how moving to open access would affect the number of manuscripts submitted to HortTechnology, and also the financial costs of publishing that needed be redistributed—more on the authors rather than subscribers.  I am happy to report that, to date, there has been no decrease, and actually a small increase, in the number of manuscripts submitted to HortTechnology compared to past years since the initiation of the open-access model.  There have been a few concerns from some authors regarding the increased cost of manuscript publishing, and the Board listened to these concerns. There are also many advantages to authors in going to open access.  Authors can use color in their manuscripts at no extra cost. The number of pages in the manuscript does not affect the cost of publishing. The manuscripts are available much more quickly to readers than previously.  Also, many administrators are looking at publishing metrics of journals. Making our publications open access should contribute to higher metrics of our journals due to the ability of more scientists to access and cite our journal articles.


Taking HortTechnology to open access was somewhat of a leap into the future for ASHS—an issue that all scientific societies that publish research are grappling with—issues surrounding reduced subscriptions and the need to have their publications provide open access.  ASHS is one of the first societies to take this major step. Thanks go to to Carl Sams and our Headquarters staff, who did much background work in investigating how best to keep our journals relevant and available. The ASHS Board and Headquarters staff are watching HortTechnology closely to learn from this experience as we investigate the future of HortScience and the Journal of ASHS.  The expectation of the Board is that both of these journals will be converted to a similar open-access system as HortTechnology in the future.  The Journal will likely be converted before HortScience.  Watch for more information on this conversion process as time passes.


What are your views and experiences with this conversion?  Has it worked well? Do you like the open access opportunity?


Contact me at or provide feedback on the ASHS President’s page, where all members are invited to provide input.


Past Reflections Columns:


Professional Certification: Certified Professional Horticulturist - Janet Cole

Seasons - Janet Cole

Democracy - Janet Cole

Firsts - Janet Cole

Thanks for the Opportunity - Carl Sams

We Can Weather the Storm - Carl Sams

There are Storm Clouds on the Horizon,Open Access ASHS Journals - Carl Sams

Developing Additional ASHS Programs and Activities for Students - Carl Sams

Online Learning Modules Partnership with AAAS - Carl Sams

DOIs, Digitizing, and Open Access - Carl Sams

Conferences and Membership - Carl Sams

Professional Interest Groups - Carl Sams

Beginnings - Carl Sams

Lessons I Have Learned - John Dole

Seed Your Future - John Dole

Recognizing the Value of Ornamental Horticulture - John Dole

Re-imagining ASHS - John Dole

Genetic Engineering - John Dole

Climate Change - John Dole

Pathways to Leadership - John Dole

2017 ASHS Annual Conference - John Dole

Status of the American Society for Horticultural Science - John Dole

Supporting the ASHS Endowment Fund - John Dole

Native Plants - John Dole

Science - John Dole

From the Academic Perspective - John Dole

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