The Open Journal is Open for Submissions!

It has taken a lot longer to get to this point than I thought it would when I first proposed the Open Journal of Astrophysics way back in 2012 but better late than never!

For a while now we have been testing the platform with submissions we have solicited quietly for a while now and are satisfied that it works so we can now open up to the general public. The journal itself will go live early in the New Year when we have completed the refereeing process for those papers currently in the pipeline. There will be quite a few further things to announce then too.

Before I give more instructions on how to submit let me briefly recap the philosophy of the Open Journal project.

We no longer need traditional academics journals to disseminate research in astrophysics and cosmology. We all post our research to the arXiv and read other papers there too. It’s been years since I last accessed a paper in a journal.  The only useful function that journals provide is peer review, and we in the research community do that (usually for free) anyway.  We only need journals for peer review, although we also like the prestige that is associated with them. But traditional journals have an unnecessarily slow and expensive editorial process, along with a nasty habit of placing the articles they publish behind a paywall.

The Open Journal does things differently, because we are not a publisher in the traditional sense. Instead, we are a peer-review platform, piggybacking on the arXiv for all the “publishing.” The Open Journal provides peer review for arXiv articles, making the process as fast and easy as we can. Once peer review for a particular article is successfully completed, we mark that article as accepted and send that information to the arXiv. Accepted articles will receive a DOI, and citations to them will get picked up through the CrossRef system just as they would in any other journal — but in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost. In fact, the service is provided free of charge both for authors and readers. There is no Article Processing Charge, no submission fee and no subscription is payable. The Open Journal is a service to the academic community, not a profit-making venture.

Moreover, articles published by the Open Journal are open, in that all articles  are released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The infrastructure is open too – the code running the Open Journal is available under an MIT license. The reviewer comments can be made open too, with the agreement of both the authors and reviewer(s).  In the long run I hope  that the community will embrace the spirit of open reviewing so anonymous confidential reviews will become the exception rather than the rule, but we’ll see how that goes just for now.

Any paper that’s suitable for the astro-ph section of the arXiv can be subvmitted to the Open Journal of Astrophysics. We will consider any “traditional” papers as well as others which may find it difficult to get into other journals, such as papers on astrophysics education or outreach or technical papers relating to instrumentation, mission proposals, and other documents.

Now, to business. The best way to get an idea of how the Open Journal works is by watching the following video (which was made using a beta version of the site, but nothing much has changed except for a few layout issues being changed):

Note that the site is currently just called the Open Journal, which is so that it can be used with minimal modification to create similar journals in other fields.

If you don’t want to watch the whole thing here’s a quick summary of the steps you have to take to submit to the Open Journal.

  1.  If you don’t have one already, get an ORCID ID!
  2. Write your paper. There is latex style file you can use here, although it is not compulsory to use this and we will allow anything that produces a PDF that can be viewed easily using our mark-up tool. Single-column is strongly preferred.
  3. Submit your paper to the arXiv. You have to be registered in order to do this. Note also that you have to be prepared to submit your paper to the arXiv before it is reviewed. There is an enormous advantage in doing this, actually, as you may get more comments and suggestions than our refereeing system will generate.
  4. Log on to the Open Journal website
  5. Go to the submit tab on the left hand side of the screen.
  6. Type in the arXiv reference of your paper (you can do this in various ways)
  7. Our software will assign the paper to an editor, who will then select referee(s). Each referee makes comments by marking “issues” on the PDF, each of which needs a reply from the author. When all issues are resolved the paper is accepted. If revision is required a new version can be submitted to the arXiv which will be picked up by the software.
  8. When it us ready our software will automatically assign a DOI and write it to the appropriate field in the arXiv.
  9. That’s it! The paper is published and can be accessed either directly on the arXiv or through the Open Journal website.
  10. Go and have a beer.

One other thing is worth mentioning. Because this service is provided free we do not have the effort required to undertake extensive copy-editing or rewriting of papers that are very poorly written. If the editor or referee deems a paper to be unfit for review then we will refer the author to a professional writing and editing service who will charge a fee depending on the length and complexity of the task.

As well as submissions we are also looking for new editors. At the moment our Editorial Board is dominated by cosmologists but as word gets round we will probably need expertise in other areas of astrophysics. If you’d like to volunteer please send me an email or use the comment box below.

Well, that’s about it. I just remains for me to thank all the people without whom this project would never have got off the ground, chiefly Chris Lintott, Arfon Smith and Adam Becker, developers Stuart Lynn and Marc Rohloff, and of course the good folk of the wonderful arXiv!


18 Responses to “The Open Journal is Open for Submissions!”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Hearty Congratulations Peter! This is a deeply worthwhile project and once a few papers have been accepted the journal can be flagged to politicians who support the present costly and outdated mode of publishing. Now the biological sciences need their own arXiv, to follow suit.

    Disclosure. I run the editing service to which Peter refers above. I nevertheless support this type of venture unconditionally.

  2. Of course

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      My editing service does not require users to acknowledge the fact in their papers, and – to be clear – I support OJA-type ventures whether or not I make a cent out of it. This is the future and a better one it is too.

  3. drewancameron Says:

    I would be happy to review papers on statistical methodologies for astronomy / cosmology etc.!

  4. Adrian Burd Says:

    Congratulations on a great endeavor. May it go viral to other disciplines (hmmmm… I have the time?)

  5. Congratulations!

    One of the advantages of the traditional journals is that they afford some prestige to papers that manage to get published. Nature papers still look good on a resume. Is there a way to rank papers on release? Perhaps 10 papers per month are chosen as “Editor’s Choice”?

  6. Takes longer and costs more – though I’m not sure how the latter applies here.

  7. Reblogged this on Disturbing the Universe and commented:
    New open journal for astrophysics is open!

  8. Congratulations on the launch of this new venture!

  9. Do you have plans to extend this beyond astrophysics? Or advice to others who do have such plans? I suppose the platform and concept not be used for any field that heavily uses the ArXiv. What sort of work would it take to set up such an extension?

  10. Will the journal accept “living” documents? E.g., if I wanted to publish a comprehensive description and characterisation of some analysis software, could the document be updated as the software gets extended? The arXiv version is obviously easy to update, so does the Open Journal number travel with the arXiv update, or would a new review be necessary?

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  12. Great! How much did it cost to set up the website, what are its maintenance costs and how are they covered?

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