The importance of ALT-J going open access
The ALT-J Journal has been renamed to “Research in Learning Technology”, but more importantly, starting in January 2012 the journal will be published under an open access license.Why is this important? ALT-J is quite respected in the field, and the number of high-profile, highly-respected journals in the field that are open access is limited. As high-profile, high-quality journals take the open access route, it is highly likely that more and more researchers will entertain the idea of publishing in venues that embrace openness (and not the type of “openness” that requires researchers to pay to have the ability to disseminate their work).
Scholarly publishing has traditionally been evaluated in terms of perceived journal quality and citation counts. Empirical research has indicated (a) citation advantages for papers published in an open access manner [Hajeem, Harnad, & Gingras, 2005], or (b) no significant differences in terms of citation counts between open access and non-open-access journals [Zawacki-Richter, Anderson, & Tuncay, 2010]. As far as journal quality goes: even though the number of high-quality open access in the field is limited, open access does not necessarily mean low quality. ALT-J’s move into the open access realm demonstrates this, and a number of people even predict that ALT-J will gain a higher status in the field.
Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-year cross-disciplinary comparison of the growth of open access and how it increases research citation impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28(4), 39-47.
Zawacki-Richter, O., Anderson, T., & Tuncay, N. (2010). The growing impact of open access distance Education journals: A bibliometric analysis. The Journal Of Distance Education / Revue De L’ÉDucation à Distance, 24(3).
Full disclaimer: I serve on ALT-J’s editorial board.