Friday, December 21, 2007


Some time ago when I was ranting about papers, authors and so on I promised a post on open access journals, more specifically PLoS: Public Library of Science. I'll leave the Open Access issue for another day, suffice to say it's something I like very much. Anyway, the PLoS journals have several neat features:
(1) Upon submission of a paper to a PLoS journal each author receives an email from the journal where (in detail) they have to justify why their names are on the paper. Until this process has been completed the paper will not be considered for publication.
(2) If the paper gets published it will contain an account of what each author has contributed to the paper.
This is all about transparency and not getting on the paper for doing routine work or just as a favour to a buddy. Obviously, the system still isn't perfect but it applies some pressure on the authors. It makes them think about the whole process and I bet that it gets rid of most of the crap you get in ordinary journals.
And there's more:
(3) PLoS journals have good to high impact factors. In other words people contribute good work to these journals.
(4) Readers can post comments and questions on the paper and the authors can respond. Just like a blog.
(5) If the authors make an important discovery relating to the paper they can add more data to the original publication. How cool is that? I wish I could do that with some of my publications. The extra data still has to go through peer review which makes it even better.
So why am I not publishing all my papers in open access journals. Well chemistry still hasn't caught up with things in this area. There are things happening but compared to what's going on in biology we have a long way to go. However, this is the way of the future and the journals know it so they will have to adapt. Recently, a bill that required all NIH funded research to be published in open access journals was vetoed at a late stage by President Bush so things are certainly bubbling away in this area.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year people. No more posting this year. See you in 2008 and thanks for all the interesting and very encouraging emails. D!


HenrikT. Simonsen said...

Have you checked: - there is a analytical chemistry journal
But I aggre open access is here to stay, and that PLoS is one of the major players.

Daniel Sejer said...

Hi Henrik, No I haven't looked at those journals but I'll have a look. Thanks for the tip. The big question is what are the traditional journals going to do to stay alive. Some open access journals charge a fee if your paper gets accepted but in my opinion this is even worse than the current situation as it will prevent scientist from financially less endowed institutions from publishing in those journals. I have just paid 176 US$ for getting a paper accepted in a low impact journal. I'm not sure if it was worth it. D!