The re-evaluation of scholarly publishing by the Australasian Podiatry Council and Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists coincided with a major upheaval in biomedical publishing. Motivated by the growth of the internet and a desire to enable wider access to scientific information, the concept of open access publishing gathered considerable momentum in the late 1990s [11–14]. Open access publishing enables researchers to submit manuscripts to web-based journals that can be downloaded free of charge by anyone with an internet connection, with no subscription or registration barriers. The costs of publishing are borne by the author, or, in most cases, by the author's institution or funding body. In this way, access to scholarly information is vastly increased, and the costs of publishing research are contained. BioMed Central , the publisher of JFAR, is the world's largest open access publishing company, and currently produces 186 journals.
Open access publishing with Biomed Central offers several significant benefits over the traditional publication model , including:
(i) Rapid peer review: the peer review process in many journals is often frustrating and time-consuming, and may in some cases take over 12 months to complete. For JFAR, this process is streamlined due to BioMed Central's web-based system for submission and for referees to view manuscripts and return their reviews.
(ii) High visibility and accessibility: publishing in JFAR provides authors with access to a truly global readership in medicine and allied health. PubMed , the world's most popular literature search service, indexes all research published in BioMed Central journals. It is worth noting that the precursor journals to JFAR – the Australasian Journal of Podiatric Medicine and the British Journal of Podiatry – were not indexed in PubMed, and several current foot and ankle journals, such as Foot and Ankle Surgery and The Foot are also not indexed in PubMed. BioMed Central also participates in CrossRef  and the Open Citation Project , allowing direct linking from citations to the full text of the article in a BioMed Central journal.
(iii) Vastly reduced time period between acceptance of a manuscript and its publication: for most journals, it can take between six and 24 months from acceptance of a paper to final availability in hard copy. This delay occurs because of the need to produce paper issues on a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis with a fixed number of pages, which can create a substantial publishing backlog. With JFAR, this unnecessary delay is removed, and articles will be published on-line within a few days of editorial acceptance.
(iv) The author retains copyright: with traditional journals, the author transfers ownership of their article to the publisher, who can legally restrict access to the article (even to the point of restricting sharing of the article between colleagues). With open access journals, the author retains copyright and grant any third party the right to use the article freely, as long as its integrity is maintained and its original authors, citation details and publisher are identified.
(v) Web-based flexibility: traditional print journals are forced to restrict the size of articles due to the cost of producing printed issues. In some journals, articles are restricted to 2,000 words or less, which creates difficulties for authors and may require the deletion of potentially important information. In addition, many journals charge the author for reproduction of colour images. In contrast, the web interface of BioMed Central journals allows for larger articles, and the unrestricted inclusion of non-written material such as high resolution colour photographs, additional datasets and movie files.
Articles published in open access journals are subject to an article processing charge, which helps fund the journal and enables free access to articles worldwide. If the submitting author of a manuscript belongs to an institution that has a subscription to BioMed Central, the article processing charge is waived. There are currently 319 Members and Supporter Members in 34 countries . Authors who do not belong to a BioMed Central member institution pay an article processing charge upon publication. However, as part of the agreement formulated between the Australasian Podiatry Council and the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, all Association/Society members who wish to submit a manuscript will have their article processing charge covered.