Royal Society to launch into the great wide open

Top researchers in biology have yet another publishing option following the launch of a major open-access journal by the Royal Society.

November 1, 2011

Open Biology, which will cover all areas with a molecular or cellular element, aims to compete for high-impact papers with titles such as those in the Cell and Nature stables. It will be the Royal Society’s first wholly open-access journal, and will be overseen by a team of academic serving as subject editors and on the editorial board.

Its editor-in-chief, David Glover, professor of genetics at the University of Cambridge, said it would fill an “almost embarrassing” gap in the coverage of Royal Society journals.

It would also address researchers’ widespread dissatisfaction with existing high-end journals, acceptance in which is often considered essential for career progression but which is “becoming more and more of a crapshoot”.

Such journals, which have professional editors, also ask authors to carry out many unnecessary additional experiments, Professor Glover said, and to submit large amounts of supplementary material.

“We would like to get a high impact factor and will want to see papers in the upper end of quality. But having identified them, we will want to get them out quickly without having an unnecessary round of referring just to satisfy the will of someone who might be the direct competitor of the person trying to publish.”

Professor Glover acknowledged that many of these motivations were shared by the Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Max Planck Society, which announced this summer that they would launch an open-access bioscience journal next year.

Randy Schekman, professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Berkeley and editor-in-chief of the forthcoming journal, said members of its editorial board would be paid to “recognise [their] significant effort”. Their names and that of the journal will be announced this month.

The funders’ journal will also waive article fees for its first few years of operation; Open Biology will charge £1,200 for article submitted after the end of February.

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