10 years experience with pioneering open access publishing in health informatics: the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2010;160(Pt 2):1329-33.


Peer-reviewed journals remain important vehicles for knowledge transfer and dissemination in health informatics, yet, their format, processes and business models are changing only slowly. Up to the end of last century, it was common for individual researchers and scientific organizations to leave the business of knowledge transfer to professional publishers, signing away their rights to the works in the process, which in turn impeded wider dissemination. Traditional medical informatics journals are poorly cited and the visibility and uptake of articles beyond the medical informatics community remain limited. In 1999, the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR; http://www.jmir.org) was launched, featuring several innovations including 1) ownership and copyright retained by the authors, 2) electronic-only, "lean" non-for-profit publishing, 3) openly accessible articles with a reversed business model (author pays instead of reader pays), 4) technological innovations such as automatic XML tagging and reference checking, on-the-fly PDF generation from XML, etc., enabling wide distribution in various bibliographic and full-text databases. In the past 10 years, despite limited resources, the journal has emerged as a leading journal in health informatics, and is presently ranked the top journal in the medical informatics and health services research categories by impact factor. The paper summarizes some of the features of the Journal, and uses bibliometric and access data to compare the influence of the Journal on the discipline of medical informatics and other disciplines. While traditional medical informatics journals are primarily cited by other Medical Informatics journals (33%-46% of citations), JMIR papers are to a more often cited by "end-users" (policy, public health, clinical journals), which may be partly attributable to the "open access advantage".

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Journal Impact Factor
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Programming Languages
  • Publishing