Open-access science journal leaves editing to the experts

November 5, 2011

A new open-access life and biomedical sciences journal, conceived with the aim of transforming research communication and speeding up the publication process, has announced its title and editorial team.

The journal, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust, will be known as eLife. The name is designed to articulate its online, open-access nature and its coverage of a wide range of life and biomedical sciences.

The editorial team is composed of active, internationally known researchers rather than professional editors.

Randy Schekman, Howard Hughes investigator and professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is editor-in-chief. Fiona Watt, Herchel Smith professor of molecular genetics at the University of Cambridge, and Detlef Weigel, head of the molecular biology department at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, will be deputy editors.

Fifteen to 20 additional senior editors representing a number of biomedical and life science research fields will also be employed, and in the coming months, 150 experts will be appointed to a board of reviewing editors.

A criticism sometimes levelled at top-tier journals such as Nature, Science and Cell is that professional editors may lack the scientific knowledge and experience necessary to make the best-informed decisions on submissions before passing them on to reviewers. eLife’s use of research-active editors aims to address this issue.

Professor Watt said: “As active investigators engaged in research, the editorial team we have assembled will solicit and consider the finest contributions from all sources in the life sciences and biomedical community.”

eLife also plans to reduce the length of the peer-review process and make the system clearer for researchers.

While the journal is being established, the submission of papers will be free, but in time the team expects to introduce an article-processing fee to cover some of the publication costs.

eLife’s first issue is expected late next year, and Professor Weigel has high hopes for its impact in a field dominated by subscription-based journals.

“Our ambition is to make this a unique journal that will serve as a catalyst for the broader reinvention of research communication,” he said.

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