eLife is the newest example of the changes sweeping journal publishing. (It's so new, it doesn't have its own website yet.) We've already seen:
- the movement away from print to online journals,
- the Open Access movement,
- and a new emphasis in peer-review.
eLife will be an Open Access life sciences journal that hopes to compete with Cell, Nature, and Science. The Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Max Planck Society will support eLife for 3 - 5 years, until they develop a business model that will allow them to support themselves. eLife expects to publish its first issue in 2012.
Beyond starting a new OA journal, the editors of eLife are taking a slightly different approach to editorship and peer review.
eLife will not have professional editors; all editors will be working researchers. In the press releases, editor-in-chief Randy Schekman indicates life science researchers are dissatisfied with professional editors. Here's an interesting response from a professional editor.
Usually peer reviewers receive a manuscript and review it on their own, in isolation. eLife wants to make discussion a part of the peer review process. They envision using an asynchronous secure site for these discussions. They hope for a consensus among reviewers and editors, and a reply to the author within a month. Because this will take more time than the usual review process, eLife will be paying their reviewers.
2012 looks to be an interesting year for publishing!