The advantages of taking a chance with a new journal – OpenQuaternary

Full disclosure: I’m on the editorial board of Open Quaternary and also manage the blog, but I am not an Editor in Chief and have attempted to ensure that my role as an author and my role as an editor did not conflict.

Figure 1.  Neotoma and R together at last!
Figure 1. Neotoma and R together at last!

We (myself, Andria Dawson, Gavin L. SimpsonEric GrimmKarthik Ram, Russ Graham and Jack Williams) have a paper in press at a new journal called Open Quaternary.  The paper documents an R package that we developed in collaboration with rOpenSci to access and manipulate data from the Neotoma Paleoecological Database.  In part the project started because of the needs of the PalEON project.  We needed a dynamic way to access pollen data from Neotoma, so that analysis products could be updated as new data entered the database.  We also wanted to exploit the new API developed by Brian Bills and Michael Anderson at Penn State’s Center for Environmental Informatics.

There are lots of thoughts about where to submit journal articles.  Nature’s Research Highlights has a nice summary about a new article in PLoS One (Salinas and Munch, 2015) that looks to identify optimum journals for submission, and Dynamic Ecology discussed the point back in 2013, a post that drew considerable attention (here, here, and here, among others).  When we thought about where to submit I made the conscious choice to choose an Open Source journal. I chose Open Quaternary partly because I’m on the editorial board, but also because I believe that domain specific journals are still a critical part of the publishing landscape, and because I believe in Open Access publishing.

The downside of this decision was that (1) the journal is new, so there’s a risk that people don’t know about it, and it’s less ‘discoverable’; (2) even though it’s supported by an established publishing house (Ubiquity Press) it will not obtain an impact factor until it’s relatively well established.  Although it’s important to argue that impact factors should not make a difference, it’s hard not to believe that they do make a difference.

Figure 2.  When code looks crummy it's not usable.  This has since been fixed.
Figure 2. When code looks crummy it’s not usable. This has since been fixed.

That said, I’m willing to invest in my future and the future of the discipline (hopefully!), and we’ve already seen a clear advantage of investing in Open Quaternary.  During the revision of our proofs we noticed that the journal’s two column format wasn’t well suited the the blocks of code that we presented to illustrate examples in our paper.  We also lost the nice color syntax highlighting that pandoc offers when it renders RMarkdown documents (see examples in our paper’s markdown file).  With the help of the journal’s Publishing Assistant Paige MacKay, Editor in Chief Victoria Herridge and my co-authors we were able to get the journal to publish the article in a single column format, with syntax highlighting supported using highlight.js.

I may not have a paper in Nature, Science or Cell (the other obvious option for this paper /s) but by contributing to the early stages of a new open access publishing platform I was able to change the standards and make future contributions more readable and make sure that my own paper is accessible, readable and that the technical solution we present is easily implemented.

I think that’s a win.  The first issue of Open Quaternary should be out in March, until then you can check out our GitHub repository or the PDF as submitted (compleate with typoes).

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Announcing Open Quaternary

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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.

CALL FOR PAPERS

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.