Announcing Open Quaternary


Open Quaternary is a new, fully open access journal dedicated to the Quaternary Sciences, published by Ubiquity Press (the Call for Papers is below) with very low publishing costs (£250, about $425USD).  The journal will cover a number of related disciplines, focusing on the Quaternary, including almost anything you can put “paleo” in front of (climate, botany, ecology), geomorphology, palynology, vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology, zooarchaeology, geoarchaeology, biological anthropology and Palaeolithic archaeology. All papers are licensed under Creative Commons CC by 3.0 license and Open Quaternary actively encourages pre-publication of submissions “as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work”.

I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Editorial Board by the excellent team of Editors in Chief, Matthew Law (Bath Spa University), Suzanne Pilaar Birch (Brown University), and Victoria Herridge (Natural History Museum, UK). The Editorial board looks great too. A very diverse group of researchers, with a broad range of expertise and career stages represented.

Another nice aspect of the journal is the institution of double blind review. Emily Darling recently published an article in Conservation Biology supporting double blind review. She shows that journals with double blind reviews appear to have higher rates of publication for female lead authors and leverages recent work by Moss-Racusin et al. (2012) showing subtle, but distinct bias by academics against “Jennifer”s in academia . Encouraging diversity is a worthwhile goal for those of us in academia, and since publications remain a key metric for advancement, changes that encourage equality across gender and background should be supported. Until broader metrics of academic advancement are accepted (Goring et al., 2014) we need to support efforts to reduce advantages gained solely on the basis of sex or background.

Open Quaternary Editorial Board
Geoff Bailey, University of York; Canan Cakirlar, Groningen University; Bethan Davies, University of Reading; Ben Gearey, University College, Cork; Tom Gilbert, University of Copenhagen; Jacquelyn Gill, University of Maine; Simon Goring, University of Wisonsin-Madison; Seren Griffiths, Freelance/ Cardiff University; Erika Guttmann-Bond, Trinity St David, University of Wales; Tom Hill, Natural History Museum; Anson Mackay, University College London; John Marston, Boston University; Kirsty Penkman, University of York; Matthew Pope, University College London; Teresa Steele, University of California, Davis.


We are now accepting submissions for the 2014 launch of our new journal, Open Quaternary.

Open Quaternary is a fully open access, double-blind peer-reviewed journal, publishing contributions that consider the changing environment of the Quaternary as well as the development of humanity.

The editors are welcoming articles from a range of disciplines relating to Quaternary science. The broad scope of the journal covers a range of specialisms such as geomorphology, palaeoclimatology, palaeobotany, palynology, vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology, zooarchaeology, geoarchaeology, biological anthropology and Palaeolithic archaeology.

The editors welcome submissions of Research, Methods, Reviews, and Engagement papers, as well as encouraging Data publications. Data can also be deposited in the journal’s Dataverse repository, allowing data to accompany research in a fully open format. For more information on data papers, click here.

Open Quaternary publishes one issue per year, with rapid publication as soon as articles are ready, to ensure that research is available as soon as possible. All submissions are thoroughly peer-reviewed to ensure that the highest standards are met.

Article Processing Charges (APCs) have been kept to a minimum to ensure that the journal can operate whilst sustainably remaining low cost and fully open access. The £250 APC is just 10-20% that of some competitors. We never expect authors to pay the APC, but that institutions or funding bodies will cover these costs. Your institution may already have a membership with the publisher to guarantee that funds are available. Full waivers are available for those without such funds available. For further details of the APC, please click here.

We accept online submissions via our journal website. See Author Guidelines for further information. Alternatively, please contact the journal editors for more information.

Who sees your review?

There’s been a lot of calls for reform to the peer review process, and lots of blog posts about problems and bad experiences with peer review (Simply Statistics, SVPow, and this COPE report)  .  There is lots of evidence that peer review suffers from deficiencies related to author seniority, gender (although see Marsh et al, 2011), and from variability related to the choice of reviewers (see Peters & Ceci, 1982, but the age of this paper should be noted). Indeed, recent work by Thurner and Hanell (2011) and Squazzoni and Gandelli (2012) show how sensitive publication can be to the structure of the discipline (whether homogeneous or fragmented) and the intentions of the reviewers (whether they are competitive or collegial).

To my mind, one of the best, established models of peer review comes from the Copernicus journals of the European Geosciences Union.  I’m actually surprised that these journals are rarely referenced in debates about reviewing practice.  The journals offer two outlets, I’ve published with co-authors in Climate of the Past Discussions (here, here and here), the papers undergo open review by reviewers who may or may not remain anonymous (their choice), and then the response and revised paper goes to ‘print’ in Climate of the Past (still in review, here and here respectively).

This is the kind of open peer review that people have pushed by posting reviews on their blogs (I saw a post on twitter a couple weeks ago, bt can’t find the blog, if anyone has a reference please let me know).  The question is, why not publish in journals that support the kind of open review you want?  There are a number of models out there now, and I believe there is increasing acceptance of these models so we have choice, lets use it.

What inspired me to write the post though was my own recent experience as a reviewer.  I just finished reviewing a fairly good paper that ultimately got rejected.  When I received the editors notice I went to see what the other reviewer had said, only to find that the journal does not release other reviews.  This was the first time this has happened to me and I was surprised.

I review for a number of reasons.  It helps me give back to my disciplinary community, it keeps me up to date on new papers, it gives me an opportunity to deeply read and communicate science in a way that we don’t ordinarily undertake, and it helps me improve my own skills.  The last point comes not only from my own activity, but from reading the reviews of others.  If you want a stronger peer review process, having peers see one another’s reviews is helpful.