SPARC, a coalition of academic and research libraries, wants to improve the scholarly publishing system. To bring attention to individuals and groups that are doing just that, they started the SPARC Innovators program. The most recently named Innovator is a journal from PLoS, a group I’ve mentioned before.
In 2006 PLoS ONE was launched as a new Open Access (OA) journal. OA wasn’t the innovation. Their new idea was to publish articles that meet objective standards, not subjective standards. They basically wanted to eliminate these kinds of subjective judgments from the review process:
- Is this an important topic?
- Is this new/unique/game-changing?
- Does it fit this journal’s area of interest?
- Will it be cited often?
These questions of importance and impact are left to the readers.
The reviewers and publisher make sure the science described in each article is sound (those objective criteria). The review process is shorter, allowing for speedier publication. Technology allows for as many articles to be published as are accepted. The journal is Open Access, so anyone with an Internet connection can access the articles. Authors of accepted articles pay for publication, and that keeps the enterprise rolling.
Are researchers publishing in PLoS ONE? You betcha! According to the 2010 Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters, PLoS ONE published 6714 articles in 2010.
Several publishers (Nature, BMJ, Sage) are starting journals with similar procedures. Is this the start of the mega-journal? Peter Binfield of PLoS thinks so. What do you think will happen in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics journal publishing?