Vitek Tracz is a hero of the open access movement, and it is not hard to see why. Fifteen years ago he founded the world’s first for-profit OA publisher BioMed Central (BMC), and pioneered pay-to-publish gold OA. Instead of charging readers a downstream subscription fee, BMC levies an upfront article-processing charge, or APC. By doing so it is able to cover its costs at the time of publication, and so make the papers it publishes freely available on the Internet.[See the comment below the Q&A for clarification of this].
Many said Tracz’s approach would not work. But despite initial scepticism BMC eventually convinced other publishers that it had a sustainable business model, and so encouraged them to put their toes in the OA waters too. As such, OA advocates believe BMC was vital to the success of open access. As Peter Murray-Rust put it in 2010, “Without Vitek and BMC we would not have open access”.
Today Tracz has a new, more radical, mission, which he is pursuing with F1000.
As always, I have written an introduction to the Q&A below with Vitek Tracz; as sometimes happens, the introduction turned out to be longer than readers might expect, or wish to read.
I have, therefore, put the introduction into a PDF file, which can be accessed by clicking on this link.
Those interested only in the Q&A need simply read on below.
RP: As I understand it, F1000 now consists of three main services — F1000Research, F1000Prime, and F1000Workspace. In addition, I believe there is something called F1000 Specialists. Can you say something briefly about each of these services, and when they were launched?
VT: The newly launched F1000 (F1000.com) is an integrated site combining three services: F1000Prime, F1000Research and F1000Workspace. These services are built and supported through the active collaboration and participation of the largest high-level group of experts (over 11,000 and growing) from across biology and medicine, the F1000 Faculty. This consists of experienced leaders (Faculty Members) and talented young researchers (Associate Faculty Members, appointed by Faculty Members), in about equal numbers.
We started what is now called F1000Prime 13 years ago, which has become the largest and most comprehensive article-level quality assessment of biomedical literature: the F1000 Faculty identify those articles they find interesting in their daily work, rate them at one of the three levels of quality (all positive, the goal is to find the best articles) and write a short text explaining why the chosen article is interesting to them.
F1000Research, launched over 2 years ago, is an open science publishing platform that offers a completely new way of publishing research in biology and medicine: it uses immediate publication followed by transparent peer review, requires the underlying data to be shared, and encourages the publication of all research findings. It also now offers a platform to freely share scientific posters and slides.
Recently, we launched F1000Workspace, a comprehensive set of tools to help researchers write articles and grants, discover literature, manage references and reference libraries, and collaborate and prepare for publication.
The F1000 Specialists are not an external service; they are a growing group of young active supporters of our services who work with us in key institutions to support new users of our services and bring feedback that then contributes to future development decisions.