Open Access Week 2023 – Publishing to benefit the microbiology community

Open Access week logo with the message community over commercialization


The Microbiology Society is a membership charity and a not-for-profit publisher. Its members are scientists interested in microbes, their effects and their practical uses. They are based in universities, industry, hospitals, research institutes, schools, and other organisations. The Society’s principal goal is to strengthen its culture of being a community-driven Society by amplifying its members’ voices, wherever they are in the world, and empowering them to embed the benefits of microbiology within wider society.

The Society supports and invest in the microbiology community for the benefit of everyone and submissions to its titles ensures that it can continue to provide events, grants and professional development for microbiologists at all career stages, as well as connecting researchers working on pressing global challenges.

For Open Access Week, I asked two Microbiology Society Journal Editors, Seána Duggan Editor of Access Microbiology and Sarah Maddocks Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology about the Society’s Open Access journey and how publishing with the Microbiology Society supports the community of microbiologists.

Please can you tell us a bit about the Microbiology Society and what it does?

Sarah Maddocks: The Microbiology Society is for anyone interested in and working in any area related to micro-organisms. It was formally established in 1945, with the esteemed Sir Alexander Fleming assuming the role of its inaugural President.

The Microbiology Society serves its members through various avenues, including Annual Conference that highlights significant microbiology, among others. Leveraging the expertise of members, the Society amplifies their voices to drive meaningful change. Central to this success is a comprehensive publishing portfolio, which commenced in 1947 with the launch of the Journal of General Microbiology, currently publishing as Microbiology.

Last year celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Society’s founding journal, Microbiology, which has been at the forefront of disseminating breakthroughs in fundamental and applied research. In recognition of this, Microbiology made a pivotal transition as the first publication within the Society’s portfolio to evolve from a hybrid model to a fully Open Access (OA). Driven by a not-for-profit ethos, revenue generated by publishing in Society journals is used to support Microbiology Society members.

Are you supportive of authors using preprint sites for their papers ahead of formal journal submission?

Seána Duggan: Preprints allow for early and broad peer review. They promote transparency, collaboration, and advancement of science. Generally, the Society portfolio is very supportive of preprints as they can help refine a manuscript before submission for publication. The Society portfolio allows BioRxiv transfers to our journals, and Access Microbiology goes a step further to incorporate preprints within its publishing platform –we host all manuscripts undergoing peer review as preprints, including updated versions throughout the peer review process alongside reviewer and editorial comments. We believe this transparency elevates manuscripts to be the very best they can be.

How do the APCs that the author pay support the Society’s activities?

Sarah Maddocks: By submitting your work to Society journals, you contribute to the sustenance and growth of the microbiology community, benefiting individuals at every stage of their careers. For instance, publishing a single article generates the revenue that can fund grants for four early career members, enabling their attendance at Annual Conference. Publishing two articles generates the revenue that can support research visit grants and Harry Smith summer studentships, which offer invaluable opportunities for collaboration, and experience in research and supervision.

In essence, publishing with the Microbiology Society not only furthers the field of microbiology but also directly contributes to the development and enrichment of our community as a whole. Your involvement is an investment in the future of microbiology, one that we wholeheartedly champion and support.

Have you looked at open peer review models for your journals?

Seána Duggan: While previously we used the single-blind peer review model used by our other Society journals, Access Microbiology has operated transparent peer review since its relaunch as an Open Research Platform in 2022. Manuscripts are posted online as preprints under consideration, and Reviewer and Editor comments are posted alongside each version of the manuscript. We afford Reviewers the choice to post their comments anonymously, but we encourage signing names where possible. This fosters accountability within peer review and attributes credit to reviewers for their valuable work. We believe transparent peer review is a route to equitable publishing and hope to set an example of how successful this can be.

How can Reading authors benefit from the ‘Publish and Read’ deal that we have with Microbiology Society? Why should they use the Society’s journals?

Seána Duggan: A Publish and Read agreement allows individuals affiliated with a P&R institution seamless access to Microbiology Society publications dating back to 1947 as well as unlimited Open Access publishing in our entire portfolio if they are the corresponding author for the paper. This deal provides authors a straightforward route to Open Access publishing, without the associated charges and administrative burden of payment. Publishing in the Society’s journals helps us support the microbiology community through our work, such as holding events, awarding travel grants and studentships. Unlike commercial publishers, revenue generated from our journals returns to the community.

Sarah Maddocks: There are a multitude of author benefits such as making your research accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world; increased impact (on average, 2.6 times more citations and 4 times more usage compared to paywalled content); increased citations (Open Access articles published in our journals receive, on average, twice as many citations as those in hybrid journals and are accessed 3.7 times more frequently); and support of your microbiology community.

Your contribution not only advances the field of microbiology but also ensures that the community thrives and continues to make a meaningful impact.

Karen Rowlett: Some of Reading’s researchers have already taken advantage of the ‘Publish and Read’ deal with the Society. A paper by Alsultan et al. from the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University of Reading was published Open Access in Microbiology in March 2023 via the deal. The paper was made Open Access with a Creative Commons CC BY licence without the need for the authors to complete an Open Access request form beforehand or deal with an invoice from the publisher.  The full citation for the paper is:
Alsultan, AmjedWalton, GemmaAndrews, Simon C. and Clarke, Simon R. (2023) Staphylococcus aureus FadB is a dehydrogenase that mediates cholate resistance and survival under human colonic conditions. Microbiology, 169 (3). doi:

Karen would like to thank the team at Microbiology Society, Seána Duggan Editor of Access Microbiology and Sarah Maddocks Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology for answering my questions about how the Microbiology Society’s publishing arm supports the microbiology community. For more information on the ‘Publish and Read’ agreement that University of Reading has with Microbiology Society, check the Open Access Libguide or SciFree.


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