Volume 89 Issue 27 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 4, 2011

Research Funders To Start Journal

Scholarly Publishing: Nongovernment funding bodies aim to shake up current model
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: biomedical, journals, publishing
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Tjian
Credit: HHMI
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Tjian
Credit: HHMI
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Walport
Credit: Wellcome Images
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Walport
Credit: Wellcome Images

Three major research funding organizations—Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society, and Wellcome Trust—have teamed up to launch an open-access biomedical journal that aims to publish only the very best research. Key details about the journal—including its name, business model, publisher, and editor-in-chief—have not been decided, and some people are questioning whether such a journal is necessary.

The impetus for the journal, which will debut next summer in an online-only format, was a workshop held last year where many leading scientists stressed their dissatisfaction with current publishing practices. The process is typically too slow and handled by editors who are no longer working scientists, according to Mark Walport, director of Wellcome Trust. The journal will be produced “by scientists for the scientific community,” he noted during a June 27 press conference.

The goal is to speed up the peer review process, so that decisions are made within three to four weeks, and to limit requests for extensive corrections and additional experiments, said Robert Tjian, president of HHMI. The journal’s funders are also considering the idea of paying reviewers as an incentive for a speedy review, but no decisions have been made.

Unlike most open-access journals, the new journal will not charge authors fees to publish their papers, at least in the beginning. The journal will be entirely supported by the three funding organizations to ensure a successful launch, and it will eventually transition to a more sustainable business model to be developed by the editor-in-chief.

Some observers, however, point out that many of the desired attributes are already embodied by journals published by scientific societies, such as the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN and dozens of journals. For example, editors of ACS journals are active scientists, papers are published promptly after acceptance, and authors can pay a fee to give the public free access to their papers, notes Glenn S. Ruskin, director of the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

The new journal likely will not drive scientific societies out of the biomedical publishing business. As Ruskin says, “We expect that introduction of this new journal will complement rather than detract from our publishing program.”

 
Chemical & Engineering News
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