The Evolution and Impact of BMC Plant Biology

Journal Interview, March 2011

BMC Plant Biology

A recent analysis of Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Clarivate Analyticsshows that the journal BMC Plant Biology had the highest percent increase in total citations among journals in the field of Plant & Animal Science. The journal's citation record in this field includes 561 papers cited a total of 2,544 times between January 1, 2000 and October 31, 2010.

BMC Plant Biology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that has been published since 2001, and is part of the BioMed Central series of journals. BioMed Central is a part of Springer Science + Business Media. talks with Genevieve Horne, Journal Development Editor for BMC Plant Biology, about the journal's 10-year history and citation achievements.

SW: Did you expect BMC Plant Biology to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

We are really pleased with BMC Plant Biology's high citation rate, and the fact that the journal is among the top 10% of journals in the Plant Sciences Field of the Journal Citation Reports®. Research published in our open access journals has the potential to reach a much wider range of readers than any subscription-based journal, either in print or online, and of course if readers can freely access articles this leads to more downloads and more citations. So we've therefore been pleased, but not at all surprised, by BMC Plant Biology's strong Impact Factor. We believe in the quality of research that BMC Plant Biology publishes and are delighted that the citation rate reflects this.

SW: How would you account for the high citation rate of BMC Plant Biology?

There are a number of factors that will have helped with this—one of which being that our policy for the journal has recently developed from simply publishing sound science to now specifying that we publish sound science that also represents an advance in the field. Our most highly cited and accessed articles include research on genetic mapping of commercially valuable crops as well as methodology articles.

"Since the days of Mendel, plant biologists have pioneered molecular genetics and biochemical research and are often the first to develop new techniques...."

We have an excellent international Editorial Board who both review and publish with the journal and also help us to publicize it worldwide. In particular, our Section Editors are highly respected scientists in their different fields within plant science and they are key in making decisions on the research that will be published in the journal and also commissioning additional content.

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

The journal has been publishing for 10 years now, and was initially managed by a small in-house team of Editorial staff. As the journal developed we began to work more and more closely with our growing Editorial Board of external scientists in their roles as Section Editors, Associate Editors, and Editorial Advisors, which has been key to increasing the journal's reputation as a home for sound research in the plant sciences field.

The journal received its first Impact Factor in 2007 and this was an impressive 3.23, mirroring the journal's development in the field. The Impact Factor has risen since then with the current figure now at 3.77.

SW: What historical factors have contributed to the success of BMC Plant Biology?

The journal has been open access from the start. This ensures that all articles published in BMC Plant Biology have a high visibility as they are universally available online without charge. We have always had a very enthusiastic in-house team working on this journal, and this, coupled with the expertise of the external scientists we have on our Editorial Board who are extremely dedicated to the journal, has ensured that the journal has gone from strength to strength.

SW: Have there been specific developments in the fields served by BMC Plant Biology that may have contributed?

Over the last 10 years open access has increasingly become more accepted in the field, with more funding becoming available from universities and institutions, encouraging authors to publish in open access journals.

Plant biology is a field that is still strongly driven by genomic approaches, with new plant genomes being sequenced more and more rapidly and large genome sequencing projects attracting increased funding (Nature 27th January 2011, p 571). The tenets of genomic approaches (open-source software and "openness" with data sharing) fit well with the ethos of journals such as BMC Plant Biology and BMC Genomics and it is no surprise that BMC Plant Biology has been able to attract high-quality submissions from these research communities.

SW: What, in your view, is this journal's main significance or contribution in the field of Plant & Animal Science?

"Research published in our open access journals has the potential to reach a much wider range of readers than any subscription-based journal, either in print or online, and of course if readers can freely access articles this leads to more downloads and more citations...."

Since the days of Mendel, plant biologists have pioneered molecular genetics and biochemical research and are often the first to develop new techniques. BMC Plant Biology therefore provides free access to research of much wider importance. Nevertheless, BMC Plant Biology is a home for sound research in all aspects of plant biology, including molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, and whole-organism research. It has a broad scope, and the fact that it is an online journal with no page limitations, unlimited color figures, and with immediate publication of our articles on acceptance, certainly makes it an ideal journal for scientists wishing to publish their research rapidly.

We are also working closely with our Section Editors to commission new articles on timely research topics, and given that our Section Editors are active academics, BMC Plant Biology will be able to react faster to diverse trends in plant biology research.

SW: How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few years?

Recently, there has been a shift in focus from funding bodies towards crop development and food security, and away from classical research such as plant physiology. To this end, one of our newest sections for the journal has a focus on crop research so that we can develop this area of our scope to reflect the change in the field. This also ties in with recent developments in biofuels, for example. As mentioned before, our Section Editors are instrumental in helping us to identify new areas of research and working with us on commissioning timely articles.

SW: What role do you see for your journal?

As the journal has no limit on the numbers of publications, publishes immediately on acceptance, and has an excellent Editorial Board working with us to identify key areas of research, BMC Plant Biology remains an important "must read." We can be reactive to developments and trends in the field and publish new, timely research faster than more traditional print journals.

BMC Plant Biology is now well established with an excellent reputation for publishing high-quality research. We are keen that BMC Plant Biology continues to be a community journal with a broad scope, providing a home for all sound research that represents useful advances in the plant sciences field.End

BMC Plant Biology
Genevieve Horne, Journal Development Editor
BioMed Central, publishers



Reid KE, et al., "An optimized grapevine RNA isolation procedure and statistical determination of reference genes for real-time RT-PCR during berry development," BMC Plant Biol. 6: art. no. 27, 14 November 2006 with 63 cites. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Clarivate Analytics.



   |   BACK TO TOP