Dario Alessi is a Professor in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee. His group is currently working on 12 AMPK-related protein kinases, which like AMPK are activated by the disease-associated protein kinase, LKB1. These proteins are poorly studied but he expects that one or more of them will play a role in mediating some of the tumour suppressor effects of LKB1.
What prompted you to submit a manuscript to Journal of Biology?
Grahame Hardie and I were of the opinion that we had a story that would be of interest to the scientific community, regardless of the journal it was published in. Journals in which most researchers attempt to publish exciting stories, such as Nature, Cell and Science, currently do not offer free access to research articles even after one year, in order to maximise their profits. In my view, Nature and Science also frequently spoil many studies, by forcing authors to condense their papers to fit in the minimum amount of space and making them impenetrable to the general reader.
Journal of Biology offers a refreshing alternative to these perceived 'respectable' high-impact journals, as it not only offers open-access publication but also has no limit to the overall length of text or number of figures in each manuscript. This policy enabled us to write a detailed paper with lots of figures, which does justice to the work we carried out. The commissioning of a journalistic and a scientific review by the Journal of Biology for each article published is also an attractive feature, which is likely to help promote papers published in this journal.
What was your assessment of the editorial service?
We were most satisfied with the editorial service that we received from Journal of Biology. Our pre-submission inquiry was answered within hours and we received the three reviewers' comments of our paper within two weeks of originally submitting the manuscript. The Journal of Biology editors asked us to address all the reviewers' concerns, and these significantly enhanced the overall quality of the paper.
Once our study was accepted, it was published in just over a month. All queries we had during the review and publishing process were promptly and professionally dealt with.
What do you think you gained from publishing in an open access journal?
It is very satisfying that anybody anywhere can access and read our study without any restrictions. Indeed many patients affected with Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome have read our paper and the associated commentaries and have been in touch with me and with Grahame Hardie regarding the implications that this study has for their condition and treatment.
How well was your paper received?
I believe our paper has been well received and everyone in the field that I have met at meetings recently appears to have read it. It even got a mention in the January issue of Time Magazine. My view is that had we published this article in Science, Cell, Nature or even the Biochemical Journal, it would not have been better or worse received. Our paper has already been cited at least 8 times in the first 4 months after publication, and apparently downloaded over 6000 times.
Why do you think Open Access is important?
In the age of the Internet and PubMed, anyone can find a relevant paper using appropriate keywords, and it is not necessary for a study to be published in a long-established journal that can be found as a hard copy in a library. I am frustrated by many scientists who assess the quality of a paper primarily by the journal in which it is published. I hope open access publication may force the people who judge our work to focus more on the scientific content of papers.