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Carl Sams

ASHS President


DOIs, Digitizing, and Open Access


At its fall meeting, the ASHS Board of Directors approved funding to begin adding Digital Object Identifier (DOI) numbers to all ASHS journal articles retroactive to 1990. This is a significant step forward for our journals and a direct benefit for those who publish in them. DOI began in 2000, and today the majority of scientific journals utilize them. Behind this rapid adaptation is the distinct advantage that DOIs offer authors and publishers. DOI links do not change and are unique to a particular object—a manuscript, book, or even a table or data set can be identified. DOIs offer an advantage over Uniform Resource Links (URLs) that may, and often do, change when a website is changed. DOIs are permanently linked to a URL, having built-in open URL functionality that does not change. The inclusion of DOIs in our citations will make it much easier for our authors to determine how their article generates other research. This can assist authors in determining the scientific impact of their work. Having DOI numbers on all of our publications will make them easier to find and, thus, increase the visibility of our research and journals. In my opinion, one of the priorities of ASHS should be to get DOI numbers on all articles of our back publications.

Another priority to consider is digitizing all back issues of our journals and Proceedings that are not currently in digital format. Our society has been a recognized leader in providing scientific information since its inception. Considering the total volume of that information, about 20% is digitized and includes only content published since 1990. Thus, the majority of the research that our society has published is not easily available in much of the world. In fact, many researchers do not often retrieve information that is not easily available by a computer search. Although most of our libraries maintain archived files of this research output, a considerable effort is required to search these archives. If we digitize all of our content and put it online, we will be providing worldwide access to all of the research our society has prominently and proudly published. This information remains a significant source of horticultural knowledge that will not be utilized if it is not made available in a format that everyone worldwide can easily access. I am reminded of a common reference to the importance of history: if we ignore history we are condemned to repeat it. If we do not have a reference point for research that has already been completed, we are condemned to repeat this research, incurring additional financial and resource costs. We can work slowly to digitize a portion of our past journals each year as the expense can be fit into the annual budgets. Another option is to develop a grant proposal to cover the cost of digitizing these issues and making them available worldwide with open access. We are currently investigating possible grant opportunities to achieve this goal. Any input on this process is welcome.

An additional option to increase the visibility of ASHS Journals is to move toward Open Access. Potential authors often ask when ASHS journals will be published in Open Access. In fact, ASHS Journals have had the option for publication of Open Access articles for several years by paying an nominal additional fee. The following is the current ASHS position on Open Access:

“Authors have the option to make their article Open Access immediately by paying an additional $600 fee at the time of publication. This fee is in addition to the usual publication fees. All open access articles published in the ASHS Journals (Journal of ASHS, HortScience, and HortTechnology) are distributed under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( This license permits noncommercial copying and redistribution of articles with proper attribution, and prohibits distribution of derivative content.”

If this Open Access fee is added to the average publication fee, a seven-page article (with member publishing fees of $100 per page) would cost $1300. This publication charge is well within the cost range of other Open Access Journals. So what is Open Access, and why would an author choose to pay the extra fee. At the core of Open Access is the thought that scientific information should be available to everyone worldwide, and access should not be restricted to only those who pay a fee. There are many who feel that scientific information (most of which is supported by public funding in one form or another) should be freely available to everyone for the benefit of advancing knowledge and resolving world problems.

There are advantages to authors of Open Access publication. The ease of obtaining open access articles often results in more use and a higher citation index for the author and the journal. Increased access also creates greater visibility for the author and the journal. Processing fees are often lower for open access publications, and the processing time is shorter. However, there are also potential disadvantages to open access. Cost to the author for open access publication is often higher per article, and many institutions have not made adjustments to author processing fees to assist with this increase. There are many open access “predatory” journals that routinely spam authors, and the quality of these journals is low. In addition, for the legitimate open access journals there may be extra work for the author in supplying publication data and text for publications. Another consideration is that there are sometimes copyright and other restrictions that complicate publishing in open access journal.

It is my opinion that ASHS should consider moving to Open Access publications as soon as the transition can be made without jeopardizing the society’s financial future. In an upcoming “Reflections” column I will provide details of a potential plan to move toward Open Access for at least one of our Journals and discuss some of the factors that are currently making the need for that move more imminent. In that column, I will also post a survey seeking input on this process and other publication issues based on suggestions made by the Publications Task Force.

Another topic related to publications discussed at the fall ASHS board meeting concerned the status of HortIM. At that meeting the board voted to discontinue publishing efforts for HortIM. I, like the rest of the board, felt that the concept for HortIM was excellent and that this journal would fill a needed publication niche for our members. However, after two years of support, the number of submissions to HortIM was not sufficient to justify the financial cost. No future manuscripts will be accepted for consideration for publication in HortIM, and any current publication fees will be refunded to the authors.

I welcome input on the ideas expressed in, and the content of, this column. Please feel free to contact me at; or, preferably, go to the ASHS President’s discussion page where all members are invited to provide input in an open discussion.




Past Reflections Columns:

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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