Philip C Hill
Clinical Epidemiologist, Bacterial Diseases Programme
What prompted you to submit an article?
I received a circular email from BMC and decided to take a look. It seemed like a good thing and I decided to have a go. I also remember my boss in The Gambia coming back from an African WHO meeting-he had recently published a paper from The Gambia of great relevance and in a very high impact, but subscription-only, journal and was shocked that none of the African health leaders knew about it. Indeed none of them could access the article. This to me showed the craziness of the upside down world we live in. Working in a developing country I feel like I need to be one of those to take a lead in this respect, and publish much of my work in open-access journals.
What was your assessment of the electronic submission and peer review process?
I thought the electronic submission process was very efficient. It is always a bit annoying having to format your paper a certain way for different journals, and BMC was no different in this respect. The peer review was thorough and as good as other middle-tier journals that I have published with, and better than some. It is a genuine peer review process that one can be confident in. I do think some papers that were accepted by BMC early on, were not of particularly high quality, but I have noticed an improvement with time. I have also noticed poor quality papers in other journals! With early papers of ours that were accepted, it took some time to receive a formatted pdf version of the manuscript, but I note that this process has sped up considerably recently.
What do you think you gained from publishing in an open access journal?
Two major things:
1. My paper was made available to anyone in the world with internet access to read for free. That gives me some pleasure on the social justice front.
2. My paper was out there immediately on acceptance. This certainly helps one personally-if you can have a paper out there next month as opposed to next year, it's a relatively straightforward decision if the peer review and editorial process is equivalent.
What is your full affiliation?
Bacterial Diseases Programme
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on tuberculosis and pneumococcal disease research mainly. I run a large tuberculosis case contact study in the main city, Banjul, and pneumococcal carriage studies in Gambian villages. I am also leading a project to establish a pneumococcal surveillance system to accompany the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine into Africa. I will be finishing 6 years in The Gambia in late 2007 and am looking for the next challenge!