Journal news 28 January to 3 February

Your journal-related news for the week.


Faculty of 1000 (F1000), the well established post-publication peer review service, has announced a new service that will publish original research papers. According to the initial announcement, this will differ from traditional journals in that all papers will be published immediately, before peer review (as long as they pass a ‘sanity check’), and peer review will happen openly after that. Publication of datasets will also be encouraged. Fees are still under discussion. Retraction Watch discussed the proposal and received many comments, including from two members of F1000 staff, Rebecca Lawrence and Sarah Greene, who thanked commenters for helping them to develop the idea further. This looks like an experiment worth watching – if it takes off it could herald a big change in publication of peer-reviewed papers. (Via @F1000Research.)

Arsenic Life (or not) in arXiv

Microbiologist Rosie Redfield has been trying to replicate the experiments presented by Felisa Wolfe-Simon et al. in late 2010 about a bacterium (called GFAJ-1) that could apparently grow using arsenic instead of phosphorus. Redfield has now submitted a manuscript to Science and at the same time uploaded it to the preprint server arXiv. She has found that there is no arsenate in the DNA of arsenate-grown GFAJ-1 cells. She is inviting comments on the manuscript on her blog, as an experiment in open peer review. (Via @RosieRedfield.)

More on the boycott of Elsevier

See my post earlier this week for the background on this. The list of researchers who have pledged not to support Elsevier journals has now reached over 3800. An article by Josh Fischman in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Tuesday included responses from Elsevier (Alicia Wise and Tom Reller). Kent Anderson of the Scholarly Kitchen criticised the boycott, saying that other publishers have prices as high as Elsevier, bundling of journal subscriptions is useful rather than being wrong, and other publishers also support the Research Works Act. Elsevier also put their case in this blog post by Chrysanne Lowe. Meanwhile, Michael Eisen, one of the founders of the Public Library of Science, gives some historical context in his blog. (Various sources.)

Launch of Cell Reports

In an announcement that got rather lost in the furore about the boycott, Cell Press (part of Elsevier) launched a new open access journal, Cell Reports. According to its information for authors (pdf), it publishes ‘thought-provoking, cutting-edge research, with a focus on a shorter single-point story… in addition to a longer article format’ and also ‘significant technical advances’ and ‘major informational data sets’. Authors can choose between two Creative Commons licences for their papers: Attribution (CC BY) and Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works (CC BY-NC). Are there now any major scientific publishers left that don’t have any open access journals? Possibly not. (Via @WiseAlic.)

Gyrations in Life

A controversial paper was published this week in the little known open access journal Life, apparently after peer review, that claims to explain just about everything using a simple geometric figure, the gyre. It has been taken to pieces by John Timmer in Ars Technica and PZ Myers in Pharyngula. Following these and other criticisms, the editor has now responded, saying that peer review was thorough, and Retraction Watch has discussed the response. (Via @tdechant and @leonidkruglyak.)

Mind your Editorial Board

Evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen pointed out something not quite right about the biography of an editorial board member on a journal called Molecular Biology, published by OMICS Publishing Group. The expert in ‘oximological microbiology, non-linear submorphological endosaccharomorphosis, applied endoplutomomics’ turned out to be a fictional creation of the German satirical magazine Titanic. How the journal administrators could take him seriously when his biography says that he ‘has successfully completed his Administrative responsibilities as vice president of the universe for scientific publication ethics and spamology’, we may never know. His name is still on the editorial board page as I write. It may be relevant that OMICS has been described as a ‘predatory open access publisher‘. (Via @phylogenomics.)

About sharmanedit
Owner of Cofactor, a company helping scientists to publish their research.

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