Bioengineering proteins for personalized medicine

One of the latest developments in biotechnology is genetic engineering of cellular biology without the use of actual cell. This technique is termed as cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS). Chemicals, biomaterials, and medicines can be synthesized easily with this sustainable method. Cell-free systems have one major shortcoming: they cannot manufacture glycosylated proteins, that is, proteins attached to carbohydrates.

There are several biological processes involving the process of glycosylation. For the prevention and treatment of diseases, it is important to understand the reaction mechanism of glycosylation. Our main purpose is to control this process and synthesize glycosylated proteins through cell-free systems.

A team of researchers have collaborated to devise a novel approach and overcome this shortcoming. The team of researchers includes following people: Dr. Matthew DeLisa, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University and Dr. Michael Jewett, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at NorthWestern University.

They have devised a novel system by capitalizing on the recent advancements of CFPS technology. They have been successful in developing the missing glycosylated component through a simple reaction, which is carried out in “one-pot” system. After glycosylating the desired protein, it can be freeze-dried for later use. To use the protein for further synthesis, it can be reactivated by adding only water. The frozen protein would get thawed and retain back its natural properties at room temperature.

This team of researchers successfully published their paper titled “Single-pot Glycoprotein Biosynthesis Using a Cell-Free Transcription-Translation System Enriched with Glycosylation Machinery.” This paper was published in the latest July issue of Nature magazine. DeLisa and Jewett are the two senior lead authors of this study.

According to DeLisa, they have been successful in devising the world’s first glycosylated protein through cell-free technology. This protein could be very useful in various therapeutic areas, including the development of vaccines. This is because the protein can be freeze-dried and used in various locations, indicating the portability of these protein molecules. This is a path-breaking, powerful invention that can unshackle the existing models of manufacturing proteins.

With this technology, protein-based medicine can be easily developed and transported to remote areas. Thus, the lives of several people would be saved like never before. The cost of life-saving drugs and vaccines would decrease with this novel method of synthesis.

Local small-batch production of life-saving drugs can now be carried out in remote locations with low resources. Life-saving drugs have been costly till date; however, this technology aims to bring down the cost of these life-saving drugs. Therefore, poorer patients in remote areas can now have access to better healthcare.

DeLisa is a senior scientist who has spearheaded several research studies in biomedical eningeering. He has always focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms associated with the biogenesis of underlying proteins in a living cell.

It is important to note that the living cell is a complex environment wherein the main barrier is the cell wall. His lab has done extensive research on several living cells, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli). According to DeLisa, it is difficult to make important breakthroughs in cell synthesis as cell walls act as barriers in the transportation of materials, including proteins. The cell wall screens all the molecules before permitting them into the cell.

Jewett works at a sophisticated biomedical laboratory in NorthWestern University. A lot research studies have been conducted into advancing the technique of cell-free synthesis, that is, efforts were made to replicate the natural biomachinery outside the cell.

A collaboration between DeLisa and Jewett was nothing but fruitful in addressing their common goal: synthesis of glycosylated proteins through cell-free systems. According to Jewett, there is always a tug of war in engineering the cells of bacteria. The cell only wants to grow and survive. As a scientist, we are trying to maneuver its capability and reaction mechanisms.

To develop this novel method of synthesis, cell extracts were prepared by the team using a high quality strain of E. coli. This strain of E. coli was specifically optimized to grow in laboratory conditions.

This strain of E.Coli was termed CLM24. Key components of glycosylation were used to enrich this strain of E.Coli with high selectivity. A simple reaction scheme was used to synthesize the resultant extracts. The team has christened this synthesis process as “cell-free glycoprotein synthesis (CFGpS)”

What is the unique selling point of this method? Well, the cell-free extracts obtained by this method have the complete molecular machinery required for the synthesis and glycosylation of proteins.

Therefore, a molecular biologist has to simply include all DNA instructions required for the synthesis of a glycosylated protein in the desired form. Thus, CFGpS has completely broken the shackles of the existing cell-based method. Thanks to CFGpS method, we can now synthesize complex glycoproteins within a single day.

The further advantage of CFGpS method is the fact that it is highly modular in design; therefore, several varieties of glycoproteins can be easily prepared using a variety of diverse cell extracts. In this experiment, researchers used a lab-grown strain of E.coli for preparing cell extracts. It is important to note that E.coli is a simple cell, which cannot carry out glycosylation on it is own.

Nevertheless, we were able to develop CFGpS platform by using this simple strain of E.coli. This implies that a completely blank slate of E.coli cells could be engineered biologically to develop into a glycosylated system of desired capacity. With this method, the structure of carbohydrates can not only be controlled but also be manipulated to suit our needs.

We can synthesize highly complex glycoproteins. This was not possible till date with the existing cell-based systems. The field of personalized medicine is growing by leaps and bounds in developed countries, including the USA. This is a very attracted protocol for on-demand drug synthesis.

A simple test tube could now be used instead of a large bioreactor for drug synthesis. The whole concept of personalized medicine has received a paradigm shift with this novel method. Based on the physiology of a patient, we can now develop a unique protein molecule for drug delivery.



Can Alzheimer’s be treated with aspirin?

Plaques developed in the brain can be eliminated with a low-dose aspirin, which is an effective drug that suppresses the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug aspirin is very effective in protecting the memory of patients. These are the latest findings reported by neurologists at the Rush University Medical Center. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Our study is path-breaking and novel in the sense that aspirin is one of the most commonly used medication for various illnesses. More than 1 out of 10 Americans was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a progressive form of dementia. Very few drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s-related complications, such as dementia. Presently, only temporary relief is provided by these medications.

Researchers still do not know the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease; however, researchers know the cause of dementia and memory loss, which is associated with the faulty disposal of amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is the most toxic protein to have been developed in the human brain. Researchers believe that the most important strategy for eliminating the progression of Alzheimer’s illness would be the activation of cellular machinery. Waste can be removed from the human brain with this machinery.

Amyloid plaques are clumps formed by the toxic protein amyloid beta. The connection between nerve cells would be harmed by amyloid plaques. Such a development is one of the major signs of Alzheimer’s illness. There seems to be a link between the reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and the consumption of aspirin. The most important component of animal cells, the lysosomes, is very useful in clearing cellular debris. In mice, lysosomes could be stimulated with aspirin. Aspirin is the component that decreases amyloid plaque.

The incidence, progression, and development of Alzheimer’s disease could be stopped by elucidating the development of amyloid plaques. To regulate the removal of waste products from the human body, a protein named TFEB. Aspirin was administered orally to mice, which were genetically modified to develop the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

To determine the parts of brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease, we determined the amount of amyloid plaque in these subjects. In mice, the functions of aspirin medications are as follows: i) to augment the expression of TFEB, ii) stimulate the expression of lysosomes, and iii) decrease the pathology of amyloid plaque.

Aspirin is the most widely used medication for pain relief; moreover, it is also used extensively for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The findings of these research studies must be validated further. Aspirin could be soon considered as a therapeutic drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s illness and other diseases related to dementia.



New treatment strategy for kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is a potentially lethal illness with little hope for cure. At the University of North Carolina, scientists have been trying to explore a new treatment therapy for kidney cancer. The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is attached to the University of North Carolina.

Scientists working at this institute have developed a potential therapeutic target that can be used for treating kidney cancers; they have been successful in identifying the gene that causes kidney cancer.

An overabundance of blood vessels leads to tremendous genetic change in patients with kidney cancer. Owing to the excessive flow of blood, tumors are developed easily. This finding is promising enough to be considered as a pathway for the development of cancer in patients.

A genetic change was observed in more than 90 percent of patients, which were diagnosed with the most common type of kidney cancer.  It is important to note that VHL is a tumor suppressor gene, which is lost due to a change in genetic conditions.

In these cells, there is an over-accumulation of a protein termed as ZHX2. The over-accumulated protein would instigate other signals, which are involved in the growth of cancerous tumors. Based on these findings, we suggest that ZHX2 is potentially a new therapeutic target that is associated with the development of renal cell carcinoma.

Following the suppression of the gene VHL, several ZHX2 proteins would be accumulated in the human body. Consequently, signals related to kidney cancer would be promoted. The expression of this protein must be destroyed in order to treat kidney cancer patients; the therapeutic treatment may be a single drug or combination of drugs.

Genetic mutations or alterations have occurred in more than 90 percent of cases with renal cell carcinoma.In patients with renal cell carcinoma, VHL is the most important gene that suppresses tumor.

Several reports have suggested that VHL plays an important role in every stage of renal cell carcinoma, which includes initiation to tumor progression to metastasis.

It is important to note how kidney cancer would be developed with the loss of function of VHL. In kidney cancer patients, the downstream effects of VHL function loss can be targeted therapeutically.

Several cell signals are involved in the excessive production of blood vessels. There are FDA approved drugs that block these signals, which cause downstream manifestation of VHL protein. This would be the standard mode of treatment for patients with renal cell carcinoma.

Most patients would hardly respond to these drugs. Moreover, these patients would quite often show drug resistance; therefore, researchers wanted to identify other targets that were accumulated in cells that lacked normal functioning of VHL gene. Cancerous cell growth was promoted with the abnormal functioning of VHL gene.

Researchers wanted to understand how oncogenesis is being promoted in kidney cancer cells following the loss of VHL function. A screening technique was created by researchers to identify new molecules, which would be useful in driving cancer cells after the loss of function of VHL.

In kidney cancer cells, the expression of VHL was lacking but the expression of ZHX2 was promoted. From laboratory models, the protein ZHX2 was eliminated completely. With this treatment strategy, the growth of cancer cells would be inhibited. Moreover, metastasis of cancer would also be suppressed effectively.

Several novel therapies have been developed for the treatment of kidney cancer. These therapies are as follows: i) molecular target therapy and ii) treatments based on immunology. However, several novel therapeutic targets must be used to treat metastatic condition in patients with kidney cancer.

Mutated forms of VHL are observed in most patients with kidney cancer; therefore, it is very imperative to investigate this gene. There have been several advancements in kidney cancer treatment modalities in the past few years. More than a dozen drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of kidney cancer.


In severe cases of COVID-19, autoantibodies cause havoc and even death


It is a well-known fact that the pandemic of COVID-19 can be controlled only by boosting the production of antibodies in the immune system of patients. However, a recent article in Nature magazine reports otherwise. According to scientists at Yale University, the immune system of patients with severe COVID-19 is impaired significantly and boosting the production of antibodies cannot really control the illness.

Diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune disorders, which are treated by boosting the production of autoantibodies. These antibodies interact and target damaged tissues associated with autoimmune diseases. In patients afflicted with COVID-19, autoantibodies target multiple organ systems that are otherwise healthy. This means that healthy tissues in the brain, liver, and gastrointestinal tract are attacked by autoantibodies. Moreover, they also target blood vessels and platelets in the bloodstream. This implies that the severity of COVID-19 is directly proportional to the number of detected autoantibodies.

Scientists at Yale University also found out that these autoantibodies attack many proteins in the immune system, that is, proteins that otherwise effectively fight infections are damaged by autoantibodies. Therefore, the situation is like a double-edged sword in patients with severe COVID-19 infection. In general, antibodies are effective in combating infection, but when COVID-19 infection is severe, patients develop autoantibodies. These autoantibodies attack multiple types of cells and tissues.

In most cases of COVID-19, the infection became severe and led to the production of autoantibodies, which are antibodies that caused extensive damage. However, it must be noted that in most severe cases of COVID-19, patients already had a pre-existing disease that caused the production of autoantibodies. The observation was done after testing mice with pre-existing autoimmune disorders and who had developed COVID-19 infection. Such mice had a large concentration of autoantibodies. Such kind of sickly mice were more likely to succumb to COVID-19 infection as there is no effective cure till date.

Autoantibodies are also called rogue antibodies and are believed to be existing for a long period of time in patients with pre-existing autoimmune disorders. When such patients contracted COVID-19 infection, they developed severe form of the disease that could not be tackled with existing medications and injections. The medical symptoms of COVID-19 became severe and long lasting in these patients. In other words, the virus became a legacy in the bodies of these patients. Therefore, all patients with autoimmune disorder should immediately be vaccinated to prevent more cases of severe COVID-19.

In patients with autoimmune disorder, autoantibodies are produced even at a mild stage of COVID-19 infection. The study was conducted by an esteemed team of scientists and physicians working at Yale University. In their clinical practice, they made concerted efforts to tackle COVID-19 infection: they screened blood samples of 194 patients with COVID-19 infection; the extent of severity was different in different patients. Nevertheless, autoantibodies were detected in all the blood samples of these patients.

Yale scientists developed a novel technology to detect the extent of damage caused by autoantibodies to proteins of the immune system. The technology was named Rapid Extracellular Antigen Profiling (REAP), and it explored the interaction of autoantibodies with approximately 3,000 proteins of the human body.

The scientists at Yale believe that the study’s findings may be used to develop novel strategies to combat or even prevent the damage caused by autoantibodies in patients with severe infection of COVID-19. Moreover, REAP technology is not just restricted to measuring the response of autoantibodies to COVID-19 infection.

The technology can be used to determine the damage caused by autoantibodies in patients with many types of autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases. These scientists are now exploring whether the technology can be used to determine the damage caused by autoantibodies in cancer patients and in patients with neurological disorders.




How to standardize metrics and indicators of the quality of research papers



Thanks to advances in computer algorithms and data science, several metrics and indicators are today available for evaluating the quality of research papers. The impact of a research paper can be evaluated with these metrics that are specially designed to suit the needs of an individual researcher, a team of researchers, a department of an institution, etc.

Peer review is a qualitative process, but metrics is a quantitative parameter and the choice of metrics depends on the goal and subject of a research study. Despite receiving funding for metrics research, scientists still do not have high quality metrics to evaluate the findings of a research study that presents global data. Despite having shortcomings, journal level indicators are still being used as parameters for research quality evaluation.

A 2014 conference on Science and Technology Indicators (STI) was held at Leiden in Netherlands. The panel consisted of eminent professors and professionals from a leading STM publisher, Elsevier in Netherlands. They felt that there is an urgent need to standardize the quality of metrics and indicators that are used to evaluate the content and data presented in research studies.

For this purpose, they coined the term “Snowball Metrics” initiative: all international universities decided to collaborate and develop a set of standards for evaluating the quality of research in terms of both output and research methodology. This is a collaborative effort between the Director of Research Metrics at Elsevier and eminent professors of leading universities in the world. The moot points of Elsevier’s vision are as follows:

  • An entire workflow of a research study is evaluated on various aspects with the help of several metrics.
  • Peers related to the subject of a research study must be allowed to select their set of metrics.
  • It should be possible to generate and use metrics in an automated fashion and at a scalable level.
  • In general, the focus of a research study is to answer a question related to science, technology, or medicine. A metrics evaluates the data of the study in quantitative fashion, but this data should also be validated qualitatively with evidences to ensure that the findings of the research study are complete.
  • The quantitative inputs of multiple metrics are found to be most reliable in nature.
  • Metrics are affected by some characteristics, such as discipline and so they must be considered even if they do not reflect the performance of a research study.
  • The use of metrics can be done in a transparent way only when researchers do not use manipulative ways of “gaming.” Nevertheless, researchers still use metrics in an irresponsible and incorrect way.
  • Researchers who use metrics on a daily basis should be given the responsibility of defining the set of metrics that they need everyday for use. Thus, this community of researchers can alone come forth with the definitions of various metrics.
  • There should never be any black boxes in research methodologies.
  • An aggregation of metrics should never be considered. Moreover, composite metrics never reflect the true value of data presented in a research study.
  • The methodologies used to evaluate the quality of metrics should never be related to the sources of data and the tools used to generate the data. Moreover, the business models and access codes used to gather underlying data should never be affected by metrics.


Pfizer signs a cooperation deal with Gilead for remdesivir, a COVID 19 medication


Pfizer signed a cooperation deal with Gilead Sciences to produce and supply remdesivir, a promising drug used to treat COVID-19. According to this agreement, Pfizer shall provide production services at its McPherson, Kansas factory in the US. The company would be manufacturing and supplying the drug remdesivir for Gilead.

After signing the cooperation agreement, Pfizer became a promising company in the fight against COVID-19. The deal is aligned with the “innovation ecosystem” that commits to fight a battle against COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement has brought about a fruitful collaboration between small biotech companies and large pharmaceutical companies. Many government agencies associated with academia would be benefitted from this cooperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a real menace, and a single company cannot really bring about an innovation and put an end to the COVID-19 menace. The deal between Pfizer and Gilead would be good enough to bring about an innovative ecosystem, which will deliver effective medical solutions. Both companies would be working together to manufacture vaccines, sterile injections, and biologics.


300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be supplied to European Union by Sanofi and GSK

The European Union would be receiving upto 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by GSK and Sanofi. Sanofi and GSK collaborated with each other to produce the vaccine candidate, which is based on recombinant protein-based technology and adjuvant technology. European countries like France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy would be manufacturing doses of this vaccine. This is a major breakthrough in fighting against COVID-19.

This is the first major vaccine against COVID-19 and it will be benefit one million Europeans, provided it is safe and effective at the clinical trial stage. The vaccine would be beneficial in tackling the global pandemic of coronavirus.

In a press release statement, the President of GSK vaccines thanked Sanofi for collaborating with them, and reiterated that the vaccine would be available soon in Europe. Both companies have worked hard to scale up operations and introduce a vaccine that will be able to tackle the growing pandemic of COVID-19.

The clinical trial would be conducted by Sanofi, and the phase 3 stage of the trial would be completed by 2020. If the vaccine produces positive results, the team of scientists at Sanofi would be filing for a regulatory approval, which is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2021. Moreover, Sanofi and GSK have collaborated together to produce an antigen and adjuvant that would produce about one billion doses per year.

Globally, the vaccine would be available through a collaborative effort by Sanofi and GSK

In the United States and the UK, Sanofi and GSK have signed cooperation agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The companies have decided to scale up the production of the vaccine at a global level by the end of 2021/22. The collaboration would include governments and global health organizations.


How South Korea effectively handled COVID-19 response


South Korea has been one of the few countries that could control COVID-19 pandemic effectively. The government of Korea effectively handled the situation without putting extreme pressure on its existing healthcare system. In this article, we explain how South Korea effectively handled the public health system.

Testing Timeline

In South Korea, a diagnostic method based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) was developed for coronavirus. The following healthcare systems were involved in this process: the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine, and the Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service.

The specially designed diagnostic kit was introduced commercially on March 9, 2020. The team of scientists introduced 15971 kits in the market, and they were used for testing 522,700 patients. By April 15, about 534,552 people had been tested positive for coronavirus. This constitutes 10.4 people per 1000 population.

About 600 screening centers were assembled in South Korea. In more than 90 medical institutions, specimens were tested with rRT-PCR. The public health system of South Korea is quite effective in tackling infectious diseases. Stringent rules were applicable for contact tracing procedures. South Korea’s public healthcare system is adaptive and compatible with private healthcare system.

The South Korean government provided specialized treatments to coronavirus patients, depending on how severe were their symptoms. The healthcare policies implemented by South Korean government were effective because South Korean society has a homogeneous culture. Compared to most developed countries of the world, South Korea was quite effective in controlling deaths caused by coronavirus.

Let’s further delve into factors responsible for South Korea’s success. Field investigations conducted by the South Korean government were very extensive in terms of their epidemiology. Multiple sources (medical records, credit card, and GPS data) were used to collect patient data. In a recently held survey, more than 84% of South Korean citizens felt that public health security was more important than loss of privacy in terms of data.

South Korea has a political system of uniform democracy. The country has a centralized system of public health governance. Therefore, South Korean agencies are able to implement policies at the local level easily.



How to handle manuscript rejection of an academic journal


Many ESL (English as Second Language) researchers face manuscript rejections from the editorial board of prestigious peer-reviewed journals. However, they should not be disheartened and devise a strategy to overcome this debacle. Obviously, most authors would like to challenge the decision of the editorial board by making ardent appeals.

They can modify the content of the manuscript to suit the needs of the journal and consider resubmitting the manuscript to the same journal or they may seek the help of publishing experts and submit the revised draft to an entirely different journal. In this article, we describe the steps that authors need to take after manuscript rejection.

It is extremely challenging to comprehend the complex style guides of international scientific journals. As ESL researchers have a limited command over English language, they may seek the help of scientific editors to polish, revise, and review the content of their manuscript. Most authors ask their colleagues to do an informal peer review at the pre-submission stage.

Although a manuscript is revised and reviewed several times before submission, about 40% papers get rejected after being peer-reviewed by an esteemed team of independent researchers. Moreover, the recent survey points out that 21% of scientific papers are rejected outright by the editorial board.

Even after a manuscript is rejected by a journal, an author has several options to move forward. An author need not despair by the negative review process, but they need to adapt to the constructive criticism provided by the editorial board. The reviews provided will certainly help the authors in improving the scientific content of their document.

Let’s explore what an author can to handle rejection by an academic journal

  1. Appeal to the editorial board

Most journal websites display a policy for challenging the rejection of the editorial board. All authors have the fundamental right to appeal against rejection, but the decision should be based on logic. Emotional sentiments do not carry any weightage.

Sometimes, peer reviewers may reject a manuscript due to misunderstanding of content. Such situations are delicate, and authors can still defend their thesis politely. Appeals that elaborate the scope of the journal are not really appreciated by the editorial board.

2. Journal re-submission

When the authors have clarified their stance and cleared all misconceptions of peer reviewers, the editorial board will reconsider their decision and may even invite authors to resubmit their revised manuscript for publication. By incorporating the suggestions of peer reviewers, an author can brighten their chances of publication. However, the editorial board of some journals do not have any re-submission policy, and authors need to respect their viewpoint. In such cases, authors should try to find another journal suitable for publication.

3. Modify the manuscript before submitting it to a different journal

Most authors prefer to submit their work to another journal after facing rejection from the journal of their choice. However, the authors should carefully incorporate the changes suggested the peer-reviewers of the first journal. This would improve the scientific accuracy of the content and improve the hopes of publication in another journal.

Nevertheless, an author would still need to work on the manuscript and adjust it to the style specifications of a different journals. All journals have specific instructions for authors, and reference styles of most journals differ depending upon the field of study. A carefully worded, concise cover letter will impress the reviewing editor of the journal.

4. Submit to another journal without modifying the manuscript

Although this option seems to be easy, it is not really recommended to novice authors. All the efforts put forth by the esteemed team of peer reviewers would go in vain when authors do not acknowledge their suggestions. In general, most suggestions offered by peer reviewers improve the quality of the manuscript.

There could be some suggestions that may be erroneous due to misunderstanding and those can be overlooked. Although the set of peer reviewers would be different for another journal, they too may highlight the same flaws in the manuscript. All authors should carefully handle manuscript rejection of an academic journal.

5. Discard the manuscript and do not resubmit it to another journal

Some authors may feel so dejected that they may totally do away with the manuscript. Resubmitting a manuscript to another journal is a pain-staking process, but it is not correct to discard valuable research findings. Research data has to be published somewhere for mutual academic benefits. Who knows your data may be a building block for path-breaking research in the future?

We all know that scholarly publishing was concealed under paywalls, but things have changed today with the success of open access journals. Compared to the conventional subscription journals, many open access journals are less strict with their review process. Journals like PeerJ, PLOS One are incredible for biomedical researchers. Platforms like Figshare make research data freely accessible and citable to the masses.

6. Hire the services of author education companies

Finally, authors may consider the services offered by many author education companies. A complete package of scientific review, English editing, and journal selection may improve their chances of publication. Academic editors are native English speakers with advanced degrees in science and technology. They have an impressive track record of publication in international journals. Although there are several such companies, Harrisco is a name to reckon with.

Harrisco has been operational for the last 25 years, making Korean research accessible to international journals. Many retired American professors work remotely for Harrisco, embellishing the work of scientific manuscripts translated from Korean to English. So, the next time you face manuscript rejection, remember you are not alone. Harrisco is here to help every ESL researcher overcome the challenge of publishing in international English journals.


Which is a better choice: Open Access or Subscription Journal?


Researchers have to consider many factors before deciding whether to publish in a traditional subscription journal or an open access (OA) journal. The most important factors are the visibility of a journal, the cost of publication, the impact factor of the journal, and the speed of publication. Internet of things has created a radical shift in the academic publishing model. Today, internet is being primarily used to connect, share, and communicate things all across the world.

Previously, collaborations with prestigious journals were required to know the latest emerging trends in a field of study. Researchers flocked libraries to get hold of the latest copy of their academic journal. Today, all information is available online and researchers can easily read scholarly articles online. Moreover, they can save important files on their personal computers. Everything is available at the click of a mouse.

The online publishing platform has two options: the traditional subscription model and the recently popular open access model. The traditional subscription model charges hefty fees from readers to access their journal online. On the other hand, the open access model enables all readers to access scholarly articles free of cost. The publication cost is borne by the authors who submit their manuscript for publication. Moreover, researchers today share their work through Twitter, social media sites, and blogs.

The OA publishing model has removed all barriers of scholarly communication. Today, so much research work is available online to the general public without causing deep holes in their pockets. But researchers still have to publish in prestigious peer-reviewed journals that follow subscription model. This is because most subscription journals have high impact factor and prestige in the academic community. In this article, we guide researchers on how to make the right choice between OA model and subscription model of publishing.

The visibility of the journal: Most researchers want to publish their articles in journals that have high visibility and readership. As the online format of OA journals is freely accessible to the public, they enjoy higher visibility and readership. Compared to subscription journals, OA journals have 89% higher rate of full-text downloads, and 42% higher rate of PDF downloads. Moreover, the unique visitors of OA journals were 23% higher than those of subscription journals. These are the findings of a latest survey published by OpenScience platform of De Grutyer Publications.

The cost of publication: The article processing charges (APC) differ depending on whether the journal is subscription based or open access. At the time of submission, authors are charged a small fee to offset the costs related to editorial and peer-review services. However, authors have to pay a hefty fee once their paper has been accepted for publication.

Most subscription journals charge authors 100-250 $ for publishing a single page, and 150-1000 $ for publishing a single figure in colored format. On the other hand, OA journals have a flat APC value, which can range from as little as 8$ to a sky-rocketing figure of 5000$. Some journals do offer partial waivers to authors with limited financial resources.

Today, libraries of prestigious institutions like Harvard are encouraging authors to follow OA model of publication. This is because most subscription journals charge a hefty fee for full online access of their articles. The annual subscription fee of some traditional journals is about 40,000 $. Today prestige is being replaced by the more reasonable OA model.

Journal Impact factor: Most OA journals are relatively new and they do not have impact factor, which is a measure of the journal’s prestige in the academic community. For example, Springer published 500 OA journals in 2013, but only 179 of these journals had an impact factor. Most authors of science and humanities only want to publish in journals with high impact factor, that is, journals that follow the traditional subscription model.

Nevertheless, some disciplines do have OA journals with high impact factor, and can be considered to be prestigious. For example, PLOS Biology and PLOS ONE follow complete OA model of publication, and yet manage to be ranked 1st and 10th most prestigious journals, based on their impact factor.

Many Chinese and European universities provide an extended tenure of professorship to researchers who have published in high-impact, peer-reviewed, prestigious journals. Most well-established journals still follow the traditional subscription model. Moreover, it is easier to get research grants if you have an impressive list of publications in high-impact subscription journals.

The speed of publication: In the survey conducted by the OpenScience platform, about 65-70% of science authors always considered the time taken to publish a paper after submission, that is, the speed of publication of a journal. Most peer-reviewed medical journals have a publication time of 21 months, causing a time lag between clinical trials and data publication. For patients awaiting new therapies, this time lag for data dissemination is discouraging.

Clinicians should consider publishing in OA journals, because they are speed up the review process and shorten publication time. The most prestigious OA journals such as PeerJ, PLOS ONE, etc. are devoted to accelerate the peer-review process. In 2013, a survey examined 135 journals indexed by SCOPUS. They found that OA journals had a significantly shorter publication time compared to traditional subscription journals. Thus, OA journal is recommended to researchers who wish to disseminate their findings rapidly.

In conclusion, the visibility of a journal, cost of publication, journal impact factor, and speed of publication are the most important factors to consider while making a choice between OA and subscription journals. The well-established researchers can opt for OA journals, while budding researchers may opt for subscription journals as they still have to make a name for themselves in the academic community.

Nevertheless, the OA model is here to stay and it been popularized by the growing readership on the internet. Information platform has now shifted to online model modes from the traditional print model, which is dying with due course. Most prestigious universities are canceling their contracts with costly subscription journals. Harrisco offer journal selection service to all researchers who find it difficult to make this important decision. Harrisco is the no.1 academic editing company in Seou, South Korea.