Thoughts on jounal strategies
- Some of these thoughts may not be practical and provide merely a basis for further brainstorming.
- Can an Open Access journal use the wiki platform, with login limited to editors (and reviewers), to keep costs low and provide effective search options?
- A scientific society should be in charge of the editorial strategy (MiPs ?).
Evolutionary article types
In addition to conventional article types, emphasis may be placed on the evolution of a publication, without unnessesary addition to the exploding numbers of publications.
- A Review article that does not age: Annual updates of a reviewed topic are published, generating an evolutionary series of reviews (with numbered editions; all editions archived). Obtaining the copyright for publishing non-open access figures in such reviews may be encouraged.
- A Protocol kept up-to-date: Protocols should be published in the detail necessary to help other scientists to apply it accurately. Such details are subject to change, and an evolutionary series of protocols (with numbered editions) is maintained up-to-date. By reference to the edition of a published protocol in other publications, ambiguities as to the methodological details are eliminated.
- A hypothesis article potentially evolving into a full article: There are too many publications, but there are not enough innovative publications. Many novel hypotheses remain unpublished for many reasons, some of which may be removed by the evolutionary concept of a publication. Published in the format of a 'hypothesis', later experiments by the same group may add substance to the concept to the extent of elevating an 'obscure' hypothesis format to the level of a full article. When conventionally published, the hypothesis paper may never appear: scientists may be afraid that this publication will lower the chance for a later high-level publication, or dont want to share their best ideas.
- A Preliminary publication potentially evolving into a full publication: Is it possible that a 'preliminary publication' meets the same quality criteria as a full publication? If this cannot be excluded, then high-quality 'preliminary publications' should be encouraged, with the potential to evolve into a full publication. There are many advantages, and the following list of arguments is to be extended:
- Conference presentations should be innovative, and may quickly be published as a 'preliminary publication' beyond the restricted scope and circulation of a conference abstract.
- Students (and their supervisors) may be forced to submit and resubmit rather preliminary data to journals in an attempt to obtain a publication as required by PhD (and other) thesis regulations. A distinction between 'preliminary' and 'full' publication may be advantageous for the student and the general readership, particularly if potential follow-up projects may help to extend the preliminary to a full publication (without the necessity of partial double-publication or the difficulty to publish the final results in view of a preliminary publication).
- The effort to complete a publication at the end of a (PhD or Postdoc) project comes as a shock for many young scientists, sometimes even driving them away from science. The evolutionary approach of 'preliminary' to 'full' publication may guide them through a successful learning curve.
- A 'preliminary publication' increases the opportunity to discuss results and concepts with colleagues, thus potentially improving the quality of the emerging 'full publication'. Open discussion may be encouraged through the 'preliminary publication', since the priority of publication is maintained in the early version (archived for historical interests) and later versions are sufficient for the time-limited reader and for space-limited referencing.
- 5. A full publication is subject to further evolution. (a) Supplementary material may be added after publication (letter to the Editor, simple decision by the editor). (b) A full publication may evolve into a new version (numbered edition), which may be more useful and efficient than a ‘new’ publication (editorial process?). (c) Readers like authors may submit their comments to the editor, who decides on adding these comments to the website.
- Even when trying the best in completion of a publication, there is generally scope for making it better.
- Fair citation is implemented by the possibility to add references newly discovered by the authors, or upon request by readers and communicated to the editor. As a reader-friendly approach, (a) main citations may be limited to a defined number (depending on article tye), and (b) an unlimited number of references may be added under 'additional references' - and this is open for comments.
Emergence of an Open Access publication
- The manuscript (MS) is put on-line as submitted (pdf for permanent track-record). The on-line access may be (a) open for all, or (b) open for the editors only (??).
- An alert is circulated to all editors and to selected reviewers, who should add their comments non-anonymously to the website, within a defined time frame (e.g. 1 month or 3 weeks). The editors and invited reviewers may modify their evaluation during the editorial period, and discuss evaluations of other editors/reviewers. Since all information is open-source, any conflict of interests are transparent (e.g. if an editor is an author). The authors get an immediate feedback from the on-line comments if access is 'open for all'.
- A specific editor (without conflict of interest) is nominated to summarize all comments, taking into account conflicts of interests (if editors are authors), and reach a first-level decision: Is the MS to be considered for (a) final publication, (b) revision, (c) rejection (pdf for permanent track-record). Authors may respond to rejections, and a different editor will reach a final evaluation.
- Upon request of the authors, a finally rejected MS is deleted. Alternatively, it may remain on-line as a 'preliminary MS', together with the editors comments and the rebuttal of the authors. This provides the chance of formally resubmitting an initially rejected MS with appropriate arguments.
- Final publications (PUB) are moved from the MS (original Version 1, 2, ..) to the PUB category (if edited: Version x, y, ..).
- Provide information on the specific responsibilities of each co-author (this is standard in many journals).
- Follow transparent rules particulary for the two major positions of the first and senior authors.
- Define 'conflict of interest': For most (not all) scientists, a publication is written with the clear financial interests. These interests may be related to obtain a degree (was this publication part of a PhD or other thesis?), another grant, a new or better position. Is this then more or less biased compared to the conventional conflict of interest statements? This is so trivial and clear, that a general statement may not be necessary, such as "This publication supports financial and career interests of authors A, B, C, ...)".
How can the substantial labour be financed, if neither author fees (page charges) nor user fees (Open Access) add to be budget? - If nothing is charged, how can it be sold?
- A minimum submission fee may be charged, which may be waved in specific cases to maintain a fair access to submission of a publication.
- Suppport by conferences publishing their abstracts or proceedings in the Open Access journal.
- Page charges may be voluntary, and articles can be labelled as (a) voluntary page charges based on the availability of financial support (grants, institutional support, etc.) - all authors should be explicitely contacted asking for such support, particularly if grants are cited, (b) voluntary page charges considered as a donation, (c) minor contributions. The financial aspects must not be disclosed during the review process, to guarantee an unbiased review with respect to any payments.
- Company-supported articles with obligatory page charges.
- Support by a scientific society (MiPs ?). E.g. members of a society (MiPs) may receive login information and thus may increase the critical mass of scientists who contribute directly to discussions, compared to the indirect contributions via Email to the editors.
- Support by international network projects (COST, etc) (?).
- Paid advertisements (companies) and announcements (conferences etc).
- General institutional financial support (?).
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