Excerpted from Fred Friend's July 29 posting to the American Library Association online discussion forum Scholcomm:
The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee has produced a Report on "Peer review in scientific publications" which, if the Committee's recommendations are implemented, will initiate several positive developments for scholarly communication. The Report - available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/856/85602.htm - examines the current peer review system thoroughly from different angles. Picking up on the importance of reproducibility of research results, the Committee recommend that "data associated with publicly funded research should, where possible, be made widely and freely available". Also significant for scholarly communication in general, are the Committee's "concerns about the use of journal Impact Factor as a proxy measure for the quality of individual articles". Although recognising the value of peer review, the Committee expresses concerns about the way the peer review system currently operates and encourages the "prudent use of online tools for post-publication review and commentary as a means of supplementing pre-publication review". The Committee sees pre-publication review as being effective for technical assessment but needing post-publication review for impact assessment, impact now being of high importance for research funders.
The UK Parliament's Committees are very effective in investigating a wide range of issues of importance (witness their recent questioning of News Corporation executives). [...] For those of you who are unfamiliar with the UK system, there is no obligation upon the UK Government to accept the Committee's recommendations (as we found in the Committee's Report on OA in 2004) but clearly the Committee's views do carry weight.
From BMC's July 3 press release, more evidence that open access does not equate with lack of quality or vanity publishing:
The 2010 edition of Thomson Reuters' Journal Citation Reports, released on June 28th 2011, provides further evidence that open access journals are delivering not only high visibility but also high rates of citation and impact.
Altogether, 101 BioMed Central journals now have official impact factors. 21 journals recorded their first impact factors this year. Meanwhile, among the 80 journals which already had impact factors, 52 increased while only 28 declined. The average change in impact factor was an increase of 0.19 points.
From the June 28 issue of Inside Higher Ed:
Two major funders of biomedical research and Germany's leading scholarly society said Monday that they would create what they described as a top-quality open-access journal -- though many of the details of the new venture have yet to be nailed down. Officials from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Britain's Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society said that their plan had grown from discussions with leading scientists in 2010 in which they expressed desire for a new, more efficient and more financially independent form of scholarly publishing.
The journal's backers said they did not expect to charge authors fees to publish their work (as do some journals that do not charge readers); apart from an editor-in-chief, filtering of submissions are to be done by a board of working scientists, rather than by professional editors (according to Science magazine), and the peer review and editing process is designed to be much faster than normal.