The dust has settled, the stats are in, and we are delighted to report that 2017 was yet another successful year for Royal Society Publishing.


A fast track to publishing your research

Submissions to our research journals continue to rise (by 5.4% in 2017), despite unprecedented competition. The ongoing growth in submissions, and the resulting article output, has not dented our publication times. With an average time to first decision of just 38 days, we are still faster than most of our competitors, and our fastest journal, Biology Letters, boasts a receipt to first decision time of only 25 days (the global average is around 100 days). Total publication times (from submission to online publication) are also highly competitive at 116 days. Keeping publication times short is very important to authors, but it is ever more challenging for the team as we add more checks and stringent processes to improve the quality and reliability of the published research literature.


International science and a growing worldwide readership


Our journals attract submissions from all over the world and our authors are widely distributed around the globe. In terms of access, our content can be found in one out of every three research libraries worldwide, and we provide completely free access to 98 of the world’s poorest nations through UN and WHO programs. The growth in the proportion of articles published open access has been prodigious and is ahead of all other subscription publishers. In 2017, 42% of all our articles were published with immediate open access.

Usage and readership of our content also grew in 2017. Article downloads reached a record high, with a total of 35.4 million article downloads, representing an increase of 14% on the previous year.


Forward-thinking publishing

Moving away from the figures and onto the service we offer to authors and readers, our publishing team works constantly to put into practice the Society’s commitment to open science, reproducibility and improving research culture. During 2017 we extended open peer review to two more journals (now three in total); we are building a direct submission link to bioRxiv; we extended Publons integration to two further journals; and we made Data Availability Statements mandatory for all journal articles. We also appointed our first Preprints Editor on Proceedings B.

The Royal Society is committed to improving diversity in all areas of its work and in science as a whole. Our journal Editorial Boards are currently 39% female, which compares well with the general scientific population. In early 2018 we will be conducting a survey of our authors and reviewers to explore this further and identify any areas where action may be needed.

The Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition goes from strength to strength. This annual event is an opportunity for scientists to show off their camera skills to communicate science (it is not open to professional photographers or journalists). The 2017 competition attracted over 1000 entries and received excellent press coverage.


Preserving the history of science

The ambitious project to re-digitise all our published articles from 1665 to 1996 (totalling three quarters of a million pages!) was completed and launched in November and the pilot platform for the next phase of the project (releasing previously unpublished material relating to those articles) is due for launch in April.


We hope you will continue to work with us in 2018 by submitting your work to our journals, refereeing manuscripts, and reading and sharing our published articles. Here’s to another successful year!

Find out more about publishing your research with us.

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