All actively managed journals continually undergo self-analysis as they strive to improve their performance but it’s rare for the outcomes to be widely shared. A recent exception is an account of the first ten years of the not for profit, open access journal AoB PLANTS by its founding Chief Editor Mike Jackson. This informative warts-and-all account vividly illustrates the machinations that can precede and accompany new initiatives such as this and inevitably continue as management struggles to match expectations with actuality. Launching a new journal is costly and the tension between long-term goals and short-term financial pressures are sometimes hard to reconcile. However, this account carries the clear message that taking the long view and keeping firmly to original well-thought-out principles can ultimately reap reward. One notable outcome for AoB PLANTS is being positioned in the top 25% of plant science journals based on Impact Factor; a ranking that should please the owners (the Annals of Botany Company) and publisher (Oxford University Press).
At the time AoB PLANTS first opened its doors in 2009, open access journals were a rarity. Today, they are becoming main stream; a trend set to continue now a sizeable consortium of European science funding agencies has decided to make open access publishing mandatory for the science it supports (see – https://www.scienceeurope.org/making-open-access-a-reality-by-2020/).The future for AoB PLANTS and similar open access journals must surely be bright.
The journal recently revamped its operations under the guidance of new Chief Editor Tom Buckley who believes strongly in the ideals of open access publishing and sound science. It is too early to assess the full impact of these recent developments on the performance of AoB PLANTS but at the time of writing, the latest changes had started to prove their worth. By January 2019 submissions had grown by 75 % compared to the previous year.