PLoS ONE

Toll-access publishers congratulate Open-access publisher PLoS to its success

The title of this post misrepresents the position of the Society for Scholarly Publishing just about as much as their recent blog post did with the publishing practice, standards and goals of the Public Library of Science, and their journal PLoS ONE in particular. There may be a grain of truth in this headline, though, in that the rising heat of the debate may indeed be indicative of a tipping point coming in sight, after which toll-access (i.e. subscription-based) scientific journals would shrink into a niche in the prelude to a larger disruption of the scientific communication process, the transition to open science.

For details, please take a look at the reply that PLoS posted yesterday, and at one of the discussions that spun off the original blog post (which is linked from there). Both are embedded below.

Re: Using Wikipedia

This comment was originally posted as http://gfulibrarian.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/using-wikipedia/#comment-10 but seems to have been labeled as spam, probably due to the more than two links I added. So I repost it here:

Nice summary, but I would like to add that both models can and do indeed evolve. For instance, the "does not change" aspect is not true for journals like PLoS ONE (where articles can be annotated by any registered user of the site) and Scholarpedia (which is a scholarly review journal published on a wiki platform, hence with updatability).

Wikipedia journal

This is a response to http://www.wittylama.com/2009/09/wikipedia-journal/ - a new (still hypothetical) initiative consisting of an Open Access journal (with ISSN and CC license) that publishes scholarly reviews that are peer-reviewed and ready to be pasted into Wikipedia.

I like this idea a lot. It is much like Scholarpedia (which contains commissioned but anonymously peer-reviewed articles and which has an ISSN but no coherent license), just has a broader scope and does not confine itself to the top-notch experts in the field. Your proposal, as mentioned above, also bears some resemblance to Citizendium (where the review process usually involves domain generalists rather than topic specialists, and it is non-anonymous; has CC license but no ISSN). Both operate stable versions that can be updated. The former allows for attribution, the latter not.

You also mentioned that a similar journal could be set up for original research (something that the Wikipedias, but also Scholarpedia and Citizendium have avoided so far), and in this regard, it is very close to the journal PLoS ONE (meant to be for all scientific disciplines, though currently with a bias towards the biomedical fields; has ISSN and CC license) and the recently launched PLoS Currents (which, in essence, uses Knol as a preprint server), which I have commented here.

I am also currently drafting a blog post for the Euroscientist on these matters at Wikiversity, to which everzone is welcome to contribute and where a number of related posts is referenced. To quote from just one of them: "science is already a wiki if you look at it a certain way. It's just a really, really inefficient one - the incremental edits are made in papers instead of wikispace, and significant effort is expended to recapitulate the existing knowledge in a paper in order to support the one-to-three new assertions made in any one paper."

Better late than never - PLoS ONE now accepts LaTeX manuscripts

After having written my diploma thesis in Microsoft Word, I switched to LaTeX for my PhD, and I never wanted to switch back since. However, PLoS ONE - an Open Access journal that abandoned the traditional discipline-specific scope, which made it a potentially interesting publication venue for research on topics or methods that are hard to classify in traditional discipline-centred terms - didn't accept TeX-based documents, even though this had been pointed out soon after the launch of the journal in 2006. Now they seem to have solved their technical problems and, starting a few days ago, do indeed accept LaTeX documents. I hope that this significant invitation to what they call "math heavy communities" is going to be accompanied by an overhaul of the scheme they use to categorize their articles, in which "physics" still stands at the same hierarchical level as "ophthalmology", even though the system is more fine-grained internally.