Rheumatol Int. 2020 Oct 13. doi: 10.1007/s00296-020-04718-x. Online ahead of print.
The evolving research landscape in the time of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic calls for greater understanding of the perceptions of scholars regarding the current state and future of publishing. An anonymised and validated e-survey featuring 30 questions was circulated among rheumatologists and other specialists over social media to understand preferences while choosing target journals, publishing standards, commercial editing services, preprint archiving, social media and alternative publication activities. Of 108 respondents, a significant proportion were clinicians (68%), researchers (60%) and educators (47%), with median 23 publications and 15 peer-review accomplishments. The respondents were mainly rheumatologists from India, Ukraine and Turkey. While choosing target journals, relevance to their field (69%), PubMed Central archiving (61%) and free publishing (59%) were the major factors. Thirty-nine surveyees (36%) claimed that they often targeted local journals for publishing their research. However, only 18 (17%) perceived their local society journals as trustworthy. Occasional publication in the so-called predatory journals (5, 5%) was reported and obtaining support from commercial editing agencies to improve English and data presentation was not uncommon (23, 21%). The opinion on preprint archiving was disputed; only one-third believed preprints were useful. High-quality peer review (56%), full and immediate open access (46%) and post-publication social media promotion (32%) were identified as key anticipated features of scholarly publishing in the foreseeable future. These perceptions of surveyed scholars call for greater access to free publishing, attention to proper usage of English and editing skills, and a larger role for engagement over social media.