Open Haus Conclusion: Peer Review or Bust!

Friday’s NCEAS discussion about changing the future of scientific publishing was fascinating. We had a wide variety of views about the current system, what it’s adding to our papers, if the problems really are problems, and why we got here. But there was one thing that came up again and again, that even the most skeptical status quo folk in the crowd agreed was where the true value of the current journal system lies –

Editorial peer review.

Not a single person in the audience denied that their papers were not hugely improved by the peer review process, as well as the editor’s comments and revisions that came with it.

And that was it, really. Any other model you please was deemed a non-starter by many if it didn’t include editorial peer review. The one thing which generally we all do as part of service (except at higher EIC levels – usually). There was some other talk of niceties – professional layout, etc., but it was also pointed out that much of that we can now do ourselves on our desktop.

So that would seem to be the gauntlet thrown. If you want to change the system, the new system still has to involve strong peer review – guided by editors or guided by the crowd or whatnot was not discussed (but, interesting to ponder). Without it, solutions will be viewed with skepticism or even derision (gauging by reactions). But with it, there is room for a viable alternative. Food for thought.

Open Haus: The Future of Scholarly Publishing

Today at The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis we’re having an open discussion about the future of scholarly publishing. I may post some notes from it later, but, Stephanie Pau and I have compiled a list of thought questions and helpful links to help folk prep. And, as it was an interesting gathering of linkage, I thought it mide be useful more broadly. So, below is the text of my email and the useful links. I realize that I am blogging my email. Is this a new low? Perhaps. Enjoy!

Hello, all! For today’s open house, we’ll be talking about the growing hubub regarding academic publishing and the relationship between scientists and publishers. Is it time for a change? What is the way forward?

This is a big topic, and not all of you may be aware of the things that have gone down over the past few months that are bringing this to a head. As such, Steph and I have put together a list of links that give you an introduction to all of this as well as some questions to bear in mind while perusing them. Don’t worry, they’re all pretty quick reads – short blog posts or an Xtranormal video which is brilliant.

Also exciting, we’re going to have a few guests who are involved in scholarly publishing from campus (and maybe beyond).

Marty Einhorn (KITP) for perspective on and the physics community’s take on this
Josh Schimel (EEMB) who is on the ESA publications committee
Chuck Bazerman (Education) a consultant for

See you at 4pm in the lounge. And, as the weather has been gorgeous, if we want to continue the conversation after 5, Tony Ray’s?

Open House – Is it time for a change in scientific publishing?

Questions to Ponder

1. Do we need a change our model of scientific publishing? Why?

2. What needs to change?

3. Are scientists/ecologists ready for a change? Are we too conservative or slow to adopt change in general, open access in particular? I.e., good in theory, doesn’t work in practice? (

4. What are the differences between commercial (e.g., Elsevier) and non-profit journals (e.g., ESA) that affect the exchange of scientific information ( There does not appear to be a difference in quality as measured by the number of citations (

5. Do commercial journals offer us something that non-profit journals do not? Prestige? What about differences between ESA and PloS (high costs put on author) models?

6. If the exchange of information is better served by open access, should we refuse to review for commercial journals?

7. Is there a difference between exchange of information for the sake of the discipline and personal academic success?

Resources on Open Access

The Issue at Hand
An Introduction with some Humor

The Research Works, H.R. 3699 Act & Responses from Scientists

ESA’s statement on Open Access back in Jan (that some on Ecolog-L were not too happy about)

A Pledge to Not Publish in Elsevier Journals (e.g., TREE) with a lot of folk signing on

Further Meditations
Academic Spring?

Comments from Michael Hochberg

Do publishers add value? Nature says yes.

Publishers need us more than we need them

Oh, just go and read Michael Eisen’s blog already. I mean, he co-founded PLoS!


Federal Research Public Access Act, or, Scientists Strike Back. #FRPAA

Beyond Academic Journals

What Math and Physics have been doing for years

Nature Preceedings

Faculty 1000 new open access publication:

Something Wholly New?
Gratuitous self-link

People and hashtags to follow on twitter





@mbeisen (Michael Eisen)

@phylogenomics (Jonathan Eisen)