Journal News

19th Jan 2012

A brief summary of recent news related to journals and scientific publishing.

Journal of Errology

A new venture came to my notice this week that aims to provide “an experimental online research repository that enables sharing and discussions on those unpublished futile hypothesis, errors, iterations, negative results, false starts and other original stumbles that are part of a larger successful research in biological sciences.” It is not clear whether the Journal of Errology will succeed, but it is an interesting development that might fill a gap that journals are currently neglecting.


Another place to send your miscellaneous data is figshare, which relaunched this week. This “allows researchers to publish all of their research outputs in seconds in an easily citable, sharable and discoverable manner”. They are encouraging researchers to upload negative data, supplementary material that is too large for journal limits, and miscellaneous figures that aren’t likely to get written up as a paper.

The Research Works Act

You’ll probably have heard about the Research Works Act (RWA) being proposed in the US, which would prohibit the NIH or other federal bodies from mandating (as the NIH currently does) that taxpayer-funded research should be freely accessible online.  A summary for UK readers by Mike Taylor (@SauropodMike) is here. The act is supported by the American Publishers Association, and Twitter has been full of scientists lobbying journal publishers to come out against it. So far, the AAAS (publisher of Science) and Nature Publishing Group have been among the journal publishers opposing the RWA.

An open peer review experiment

AJ Cann (@AJCann) is inviting comments on a research paper (entitled “An efficient and effective system for interactive student feedback using Google+ to enhance an institutional virtual learning environment”) on his blog, as a form of open peer review. He’s received several reviews so far, as well as comments on the process.

A journal using WordPress

Andrés Guadamuz, the technical editor of SCRIPTed, the open access journal of Law and Technology, has written a blog post “Confessions of an open access editor” that mentions that the journal is now one of the few hosted by WordPress. Given the recent launch of Annotum, the WordPress add-on for authoring scholarly publications, it looks like WordPress is going to become more important as a platform in the future.

A survey on attitudes to open access

The International Journal of Clinical Practice (IJCP), published by Wiley, has launched a survey on what authors think about the idea of the journal going completely open access (rather than having it as an option as at present). They will be asking all submitting authors for the next six months and are also inviting others to write a Letter to the Editor with their thoughts. They seem to be genuinely interested in authors’ views and not pushing either for or against open access.

The ‘academic dollar’ altmetric

A post by Sabine Hossenfelder on the BackReaction blog (which I heard about via @ScholarlyKitchn) discusses a 2010 paper entitled “An Auction Market for Journal Articles” that suggests an ‘academic dollar’ “that would be traded among editors, authors, and reviewers and create incentives for each involved party to improve the quality of articles”. They are scathing about this proposal, describing it as an example of “Verschlimmbesserung”, defined by Urban Dictionary as “an attempted improvement that makes things worse than they already were”. Altmetrics may be on the rise, but it looks like this one won’t be taking off.


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