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An update on JoVE

August 11, 2011

Sorry We're Closed by bluecinderella on FlickrThree years ago, I wrote about JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments. JoVE was a peer reviewed, open access, online journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format. I recently discovered that since 2009, JoVE is now just a peer reviewed, open access, online journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format. You can debate at length on whether JoVE was Open Access (as I thought) or not. I just think it’s sad although I understand their motives: in a recent exchange with them, they wrote they “handle most production of our content [themselves] and it is a very very costly operation”.

The recent exchange I had with Jove was about another previous post describing a way to store the videos locally, as anyone would do with Open Access articles in PDF format. I was unaware of two things:

  1. JoVE dropped the “Open Access” wording as I wrote above (however, there is still a possibility to publish a video in free access for a higher fee, as described as “Open access” in the About section for authors);
  2. the “trick” was still working (and people at JoVE seemed to be aware of that and I saw similar description of the trick elsewhere).

Unfortunately, this trick will not work anymore in the coming weeks since they will “do token authentication with [their] CDN“. JoVE will remain for me a very interesting journal with videos of quality and without any equivalent yet (SciVee doesn’t play in the same playground and I wonder why Research Explainer missed the comparison in their 2010 interview).

I was then wondering what could have been the impact of this decision on the number of videos published in JoVE as free access. I didn’t find any statistics related to this on the JoVE website (unrelated thought: I like the way BioMed Central gives access to its whole corpus). I then relied on PubMed to find all the indexed articles from JoVE and relied on its classification of “Free Full Text” (i.e. copied on the PubMed Central website, including the video). At the time of writing (August 2011), on a total of 1191 indexed articles, 404 are “Free Full Text”. This is nearly 34% of all JoVE articles. When you split this by year since 2006 (when JoVE went online), you obtain the following table and chart:

Year All articles Free Full Text articles Note
2006 18 18 Full free access
2007 127 127 Full free access
2008 115 87
2009 217 118 Introduction of Closed Access
2010 358 42
2011 356 12 So far (August 2011)
2011 534 18 Extrapolation to full year keeping the same proportion

Total number of articles and free full texts in JoVE

As we can see on the left chart, plotting the total number of articles in JoVE -vs- time, there is a steady increase in the number of articles since 2006. This tend to prove that more and more scientists enjoy publishing videos. It would be nice to have access to JoVE statistics in order to see if there is the same increase in the overall number of views of all videos. With “web 2.0” and broadband access in universities, I guess we would see this increase.

However, as we can see on the right chart, plotting the percentage of JoVE “Free Full Texts” in PubMed -vs- time, there is a dramatic decrease in the percentage of Free Full Texts in JoVE since 2008-2009. Less and less videos are published and available for free in PubMed Central. This is unfortunate for the reader without subscription. This may also be unfortunate for the publisher since there are less and less authors over time who pay the premium for free access. But since authors also pays for closed access, there is certainly a financial equilibrium.

Some methodological caveats … The PMC Free Full Texts are not necessarily in free access on the JoVE website (and vice-versa ; all the ones I checked are but I didn’t check all of them!). This might explain why there is already a reduction in Free Full Texts in PMC in 2008 while JoVE closed their journal in April 2009. I expected the same proportion of free articles published until the end of 2011 than in the beginning of 2011 ; this might not be the case (let’s see in January 2012 ; this also leads to the question: “is there a seasonal trend in publishing in JoVE?”).

What I take as a (obvious) message is that if authors can pay less for the same publication, they will, regardless of how accessible and affordable the publication will be for the reader. I don’t blame anyone. But I can’t help thinking the Open Access model is better for the universal access to knowledge.

Photo credit: Sorry We’re Closed by Cinderella on Flickr (CC-by-nc-sa)

From → Open Access, Websites

2 Comments
  1. Sean permalink

    Has the “token authentication with [their] CDN” started yet? I figured out a way to self-archive, today, and it’s a little bit different than the one you talked about here (https://jepoirrier.org/2008/08/26/jove-and-self-archiving/).

  2. Sean,

    They wrote they will implement it. They probably finally did it. I unfortunately can’t try: my internet provider subscribed to Jove so I don’t know what being outside Jove looks like. Have you tried some Firefox extensions that acts like “download helper”?

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