David Weinberger has blogged some notes on Hemai Parthasarathy's appearance at Harvard's Berkman Center yesterday. Excerpt:
Hemai Parthasarathy who's the managing editor of PLoS Biology, is leading a discussion at the Berkman Center. She was an editor at Nature for five years....
PLoS has an "intrinsic tension" she says because most of the people who started the journal don't believe in elite publishing. "We think it's wrong for tenure committees to pass the buck" to the editors of the top-tier journals. That's why they've started PLoS One. It launches in November. "The idea is to take the editorializing out of the peer review process." It asks whether a paper is sound enough to be published, but not how important the paper is. "Publish everything worth publishing" that's submitted, and then put a layer of open peer review conversation about it. "When I was at Nature,I'd reject ten papers a week in neuroscience alone because they weren't important enough." Then the papers would be passed on to the next five journals, and you'd lose all the information generated in the reviewing of that paper. "It's incredibly inefficient." "Peer review is overwhelming scientists. Scientists are getting asked to review twenty papers a week."
PLoS' "impact factor" is high — the average number of times papers in that journal are cited. But the measure is flawed, Hemai says. E.g., reviews and notes don't get counted as articles but do draw citations, so the citations / articles number goes up; that's why more journals are running more reviews, etc....
PLoS will have some type of quantifiable ranking system based on the open peer review system. "We'll also do some topdown filtering. Some editorial board members will pick some articles from PLoS One to write about in PLoS Biology." ...
Charlie Nesson points out this is a fascinating example of Internet governance. "How can we help?" he asks. Hemai responds: "Make some of the subscription pool available to open access publications. And top down say that if you publish your papers in a way that other people can access them, that will be rewarded." MIT, she says, has been working with Science Commons to make a copyright agreement and negotiate with the journals to allow articles to be open access. E.g., Harvard could require its scientists to deposit their articles in an open access archive, and could negotiate with the non-open journals to permit that....
PLoS One is thinking about allowing revisions of papers to be published afterwards and associated with it. "The least publishable unit has been getting smaller and smaller as time goes by."
PLoS will be built on open source software. "Long term, anyone can start their own journal." (And maybe someday the journals are assembled on demand based on metadata because...wait for it...everything is miscellaneous.)
Peter Suber at 10/21/2006 10:42:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.