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New Journal for Biology Researchers

Scientists unhappy with the power of editors at top tier journals start a new peer-reviewed publication with active researchers at the helm.

By | December 1, 2011

FLICKR, JETHERIOT

Will eLife be the new Science or Nature? Randy Schekman, a researcher at the University of California and former editor of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences hopes so.  He is launching the new open access journal next year, which will be run strictly by active researchers in an attempt to address some of the complaints about scientific publishing.

Although there are many specialist journals headed by scientists, the top tier publications are often run by professional editors who do not work in a lab, and who do not moderate the peer-review process. Many researchers have complained that their manuscripts are rejected on the opinion of one reviewer, even when the remaining two reviews are glowing.  To stem this problem Schekman plans to have referees discuss their opinions in a private online forum and come to a consensus—a process mediated by the senior editor—ideally within a month of the paper’s submission.

Because the process might be asking more of researchers than they are used to, Schekman said he will pay board members, editors, and reviewers for their time, “to let them know that we mean business,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Startup funding for the project is being provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. The money is intended to give the journal 3 to 5 years to develop a self-sustaining business plan, though its success is likely to depend on whether eLife can, in fact, attract the kind of cutting edge research published in Cell or Science.

 

 

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Comments

Avatar of: Leo Goodstadt

Leo Goodstadt

Posts: 1

December 1, 2011

I am not sure this is an improvement. Good journals need strong editors to arbitrate between reviewers and authors. The editor guarantees that reviewers have the authors interests at heart and are not being unfair, biased by their prejudices or even self interest.

The hottest fields are sometimes dominated by relatively small groups of the most successful scientists. It cannot be healthy if they are allowed veto power over new ideas and young turks with no track record. At least "professional editors" have no stake in the game.

My experience with "top tier publications" is that more experienced scientists know how to lobby successfully against critical reviews while hoi polloi get rejected out of hand. One might argue that a demonstrated track record is a strong prior that these authors are more likely to be right (than the reviewers)... But this is hardly a level playing field.

Would science be improved if all journals were organised by the great and the good for the great and the good?

Leo

Avatar of: Phil_Davis

Phil_Davis

Posts: 10

December 1, 2011

The kind of top-tier journals eLife is attempting to compete against all employ professional full-time editors. Can a journal that is bent on using part-time academic editors be able to compete for speed with these rivals? I analyze why eLife wants to keep professional editors out and whether it will work to their advantage. http://bit.ly/rKPZSm

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 1, 2011

I am not sure this is an improvement. Good journals need strong editors to arbitrate between reviewers and authors. The editor guarantees that reviewers have the authors interests at heart and are not being unfair, biased by their prejudices or even self interest.

The hottest fields are sometimes dominated by relatively small groups of the most successful scientists. It cannot be healthy if they are allowed veto power over new ideas and young turks with no track record. At least "professional editors" have no stake in the game.

My experience with "top tier publications" is that more experienced scientists know how to lobby successfully against critical reviews while hoi polloi get rejected out of hand. One might argue that a demonstrated track record is a strong prior that these authors are more likely to be right (than the reviewers)... But this is hardly a level playing field.

Would science be improved if all journals were organised by the great and the good for the great and the good?

Leo

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 1, 2011

The kind of top-tier journals eLife is attempting to compete against all employ professional full-time editors. Can a journal that is bent on using part-time academic editors be able to compete for speed with these rivals? I analyze why eLife wants to keep professional editors out and whether it will work to their advantage. http://bit.ly/rKPZSm

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 1, 2011

I am not sure this is an improvement. Good journals need strong editors to arbitrate between reviewers and authors. The editor guarantees that reviewers have the authors interests at heart and are not being unfair, biased by their prejudices or even self interest.

The hottest fields are sometimes dominated by relatively small groups of the most successful scientists. It cannot be healthy if they are allowed veto power over new ideas and young turks with no track record. At least "professional editors" have no stake in the game.

My experience with "top tier publications" is that more experienced scientists know how to lobby successfully against critical reviews while hoi polloi get rejected out of hand. One might argue that a demonstrated track record is a strong prior that these authors are more likely to be right (than the reviewers)... But this is hardly a level playing field.

Would science be improved if all journals were organised by the great and the good for the great and the good?

Leo

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 1, 2011

The kind of top-tier journals eLife is attempting to compete against all employ professional full-time editors. Can a journal that is bent on using part-time academic editors be able to compete for speed with these rivals? I analyze why eLife wants to keep professional editors out and whether it will work to their advantage. http://bit.ly/rKPZSm

Avatar of: Shi V. Liu

Shi V. Liu

Posts: 1457

December 2, 2011

I think it would be even better if eLife takes an open-review approach as is done by Biology Direct.  But any improvement over the existing system would be a blessing to scientists.
Thus I have submitted to eLife my revolutionary discovery rejected by Science because it invalidates a "discovery" reported by Science.
I hope that, within a month or so, I and the public will see if eLife can life up to its "life expectancy".

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 2, 2011

I think it would be even better if eLife takes an open-review approach as is done by Biology Direct.  But any improvement over the existing system would be a blessing to scientists.
Thus I have submitted to eLife my revolutionary discovery rejected by Science because it invalidates a "discovery" reported by Science.
I hope that, within a month or so, I and the public will see if eLife can life up to its "life expectancy".

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 2, 2011

I think it would be even better if eLife takes an open-review approach as is done by Biology Direct.  But any improvement over the existing system would be a blessing to scientists.
Thus I have submitted to eLife my revolutionary discovery rejected by Science because it invalidates a "discovery" reported by Science.
I hope that, within a month or so, I and the public will see if eLife can life up to its "life expectancy".

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 15, 2011

There's also the concept of "editing" - as a professional scientific editor I see the worst English language abuse by researchers. Hopefully all of those on the editorial board of eLife also know how to write.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

December 15, 2011

There's also the concept of "editing" - as a professional scientific editor I see the worst English language abuse by researchers. Hopefully all of those on the editorial board of eLife also know how to write.

Avatar of: Alicia Prater

Alicia Prater

Posts: 1457

December 15, 2011

There's also the concept of "editing" - as a professional scientific editor I see the worst English language abuse by researchers. Hopefully all of those on the editorial board of eLife also know how to write.

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