Journals: for the Scientists, of the Scientists and now “BY” the Scientists !!

Professor Tim Gowers

A recent announcement by Field’s medal winner and mathematician of the University of Cambridge, Tim Gowers (pictured above) has created a quite a wave in the publishing industry. In a series of posts in his blog, he outlined a plan to launch a series of free open-access journals that will host their peer-reviewed articles on the pre-print server arXiv.

This new initiative is called, the Episciences Project and the main aim of project is to show that researchers can organise the peer-review process and publish research articles at fraction of a cost without involving any commercial publishers.

The issue about open access v/s paid access, came at loggerheads last year when thousands of researchers in different fields signed an online petition to boycott Elsevier. Elsevier is an  Amsterdam-based academic publishing giant with an annual turnover of around $ 6 billion. The boycott was to protest against the company practices which the thousands of researchers say hinder the dissemination of research.

Tim Gowers one who spearheaded the last years protest has finally come up with a concrete plan to start-up this new initiative. According to Nature, the plan became a reality only last June when he was contacted by the Centre for Direct Scientific Communication (CCSD), which  develops open-access repositories such as the multidisciplinary archive HAL, which mirrors the arXiv site.

The publishing plan (From Nature) is something like this –

“For the Episciences Project, the CCSD plans to create a publishing platform that will support online peer-reviewed journals. Each journal, or ‘epijournal’, would have its own editor and editorial board, and authors could submit their arXiv-posted papers to their journal of choice. The journal would then organize peer review, perhaps using workflow software provided by the CCSD. Peer-reviewed papers would be posted on arXiv alongside their un-reviewed versions.”

This plan however, would only work if other mathematicians decide to contribute to this project and maintain buy-ins of the printed versions of the journals. In light of the recent death of Aaron Swartz, this new plan can serve as a perfect homage to him and to his struggles to make Internet a free place.

More on this:

  1. Open-access deal for particle physics, Nature, 2012.
  2. Elsevier boycott gathers pace, Nature, 2012.
  3. Access all areas, Nature, 2012.
  4. Academic publishing doesn’t add up, Guardian, 2012.