A Name for Open Astrophysics?

Regular readers of this blog may recall that  while ago  I posted an item in which I suggested setting up The Open Journal of Astrophysics. The motivation behind this was to demonstrate that it is possible to run an academic journal which is freely available to anyone who wants to read it, as well as at minimal cost to authors. Basically, I want to show that it is possible to “cut out the middle man” in the process of publishing scientific research and that by doing it ourselves we can actually do it better.

I was unwell for much of the summer, and more recently have had lots to do in connection with my forthcoming move to Sussex, so things have moved more slowly than I’d hoped but I just wanted to take this opportunity to give my assurance that this project is definitely going ahead. We have a (good) website design with ample space and other resources to run it, and a sufficient number of persons of suitable eminence have agreed to serve on the Editorial Board. It will basically be a front-end for the Arxiv, but will have a number of interesting additional features which make it a lot  more than that.  I’d prefer to save further details to the official launch, which is now planned to take place in January (as it would probably get buried in the pre-Xmas rush if we tried to launch before then). I can also confirm that the service we will provide will be free at the start, although if the volume of submissions grows we may have to charge a small fee for refereeing. And when I say “small” I mean small, not the hundreds or thousands of pounds charged by the rip-off merchants.

One thing I would like some ideas about, however, is the name. My working title for this project is The Open Journal of Astrophysics, which I think is OK but what I’d really like to do is break away from the old language of academic publishing as much as possible. I did think of the People’s Revolutionary Journal of Astrophysics, but feared that it might then split into Trotskyite and Marxist-Leninist factions. In any case the very name “journal” suggests something published periodically, whereas my idea is to have something that is updated continuously whenever papers are accepted. I’m therefore having second thoughts about having the word “Journal” in the title at all. Open Astrophysics might suffice, but I’m sure someone out there can come up with a better name. I know that Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I think a good title might make the difference between success and failure for this initiative…

That gives me the idea of enlisting the help of the denizens of the internet for some help in coming up with a better title; given the nature of the project, this seems an entirely appropriate way of proceeding. So please engage in collective or individual brainstorming sessions and let me have your suggestions through the comments box!

49 Responses to “A Name for Open Astrophysics?”

  1. Great that this is going ahead. I think dropping the word “journal” makes some sense, although there might be some conflict between the big picture (making science work better) and the practicalities (getting people to submit papers to this new publishing mechanism). If we’re in for a penny though, why not just “Astrophysics”? Why be defensive and spell out “Open”, when we believe this is simply how science should be done? Also, there’s a lot to be said for short and definitive – “Science,” “Nature,” and “Cell” are all brand leaders, for example.

    • Hi Phil – I agree with you, if open access is to become the standard, then having “Open” in the title might look dated 10 years down the line (same goes for words like “online”). I also like the gravitas of the single word title, but why not the more general/inclusive “Astronomy” rather than Astrophysics?

  2. Alan Heavens Says:

    ‘we may have to charge a small fee for refereeing’. How much did you have in mind? I’m not sure I’d pay all that much to do it.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Astrophysics Archive
    Astrophysical Archive
    Archive for Astrophysics
    AstrophysicA

  4. Aleks Scholz Says:

    Following the Math 2.0 movement (which has similar goals), Astro 2.0 might work, too.

  5. […] “Regular readers of this blog may recall that while ago I posted an item in which I suggested setting up The Open Journal of Astrophysics. The motivation behind this was to demonstrate that it is possible to run an academic journal which is freely available to anyone who wants to read it, as well as at minimal cost to authors …” (more) […]

  6. You could try something in latin to make it sound established and avoid anglo-centrism, perhaps:

    liberum caelestia – which may mean “free heavens”

  7. Anton Garrett Says:

    Etheric Journal of Astrophysics…

  8. Albert Zijlstra Says:

    A nice title would be ‘Almagest’
    Short and catchy, and the original was so successful that little predating it survives.. And it includes the name of a new observatory.

  9. telescoper Says:

    How does “Astrophysics Direct” sound? It conveys the idea that it goes direct from the researcher to the public domain bypasssing third parties.

    • Too close to “Tescos Direct”, implying a) tax dodging status and b) “value” astrophysics.

      • Sounds like an insurance firm for astronomers (e.g. “Claims Direct”, “Direct Line”); sorry

      • telescoper Says:

        We’ll be dodging tax primarily by not generating any income…

      • telescoper Says:

        I looked up synonyms for “direct” to avoid this problem. Among them was “In your face”. Now I like that “Astrophysics in your face” looks like a winner to me!

  10. aperta astronomia (open astronomy) , shortened to ApAst

  11. Copernicus is a great name since he did the greatest revolution in Astronomy after the Middle Age…

  12. Ω < 1.

  13. Astro

    Telescoper

    I have no negative feelings towards use of the word “journal” – thinking of that word more as a record of something than implying periodic publication, but I’m sure an etymologist will put me right.

  14. “Open” is somewhat of a buzz word, but does have the correct connotation.

    If the focus is more like a forum/arxiv/repository than a journal then “The Open Forum of Astronomy” would work (astronomy more general than astrophysics).

    “The Open Notices of Astronomy” would also work; I like ‘notices’ since it is quite general and implies that other products could be submitted and refereed eventually (code, figures, data), and links with the older style (MNRAS).

    I like using a single noun (e.g. Science, Nature), “Astrophysics” is ok, but I think it risks seeming a bit pretentious.

    The Peoples Front of Astronomy is bound to get confused with the Astronomical Peoples Front.

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      As the People’s Front of Astronomy might have said, what have printed journals ever done for us?

      Apart from …

  15. David Crawford Says:

    How about the single word astropapers or astroarticle.

  16. Anton Garrett Says:

    Free Journal of Astrophysics.

  17. chloelewis889 Says:

    Is there an astronomical analogy like Haldane’s Sieve? (Main Sequence?) There’s a genetics open [journal | filter | discussion forum | notary] starting up as Haldane’s Sieve.

  18. Bryn Jones Says:

    I would suggest that the new venture is explicitly called a journal, whether or not the word “journal” appears in the title. The research community understands what a journal is. I would also suggest that it has volume and page numbers – people are used to them – although there would be no need to have individual issues like printed journals. Accepted papers could be added incrementally once the editing process is finished, using the latest page numbering.

    As for a name, well, something like the Open Journal of Astronomy, or the Open Journal of Astrophysics would be fine, but perhaps they lack that extra something. A name that does not include the word “journal” seems quite a bit neater, but including “journal” in its name would reassure the research community about its character.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I agree that Journal is not a dirty word. But volume is clearly outdated, given the basis of this project. Use year rather than volume date. Do it by submission date to arXiv, in reverse order of priority, ie year, then month, then day. We might even get our American friends to put the latter two the right way round…

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      I see that the Royal Society is moving to a continuous publication model” which involves giving papers an “unique article identifier”.

      • telescoper Says:

        Like the arXiv…

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Yes, just like the ArXiv. Surprisingly like the ArXiv (I’d have preferred something from the Royal Society that looks a little different, to look a little distinct.)

  19. ‘Articles in Astrophysics’ ?

  20. “I was unwell for much of the summer, and more recently have had lots to do in connection with my forthcoming move to Sussex, so things have moved more slowly than I’d hoped”

    Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you think, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account. 🙂

  21. “In any case the very name “journal” suggests something published periodically”

    Daily, actually.

  22. First, it should be defined what topics are acceptable and what not. Astronomy? Sure. Astrophysics? Sure. Cosmology? Probably, but do you want all the particle-physics and wave-function-of-the-universe stuff? History of astronomy? Numerical methods, codes etc? Planetary science? If so, including results from landers and probes (i.e. not really astronomy)? Relativity? Plasma physics? Detector stuff?

    In any case, don’t include any buzzwords such as “open”, “online” or (shudder) “2.0”.

    I vote for “Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology”. Advantages: No buzzwords. No “journal” in the title (not necessarily bad; etymologically incorrect, but of course many words take on new meanings with time—however, some journals have “journal” in the title and some don’t, so there is no harm in not having it). The name makes it clear what the contents are. Nice abbreviation (AAC). There is some overlap between astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology, of course, but I think all should be mentioned since you probably want all of them and wouldn’t want someone to avoid the journal because he thinks the title is too restrictive (e.g. a paper on theoretical cosmology might contain no astronomy and, depending on the definition, even no astrophysics, but is probably within scope).

    The only possible disadvantage I see is that the title might be too similar to Astronomy and Astrophysics. However, we have the Astronomical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal. (On the other hand, one should avoid all appearance of trying to step on someone’s turf. There is a crackpot journal called Science and Nature (i.e. one can say “I have published many papers in Science and Nature” which is confusing because when spoken one doesn’t hear whether “and” is part of the title or not).)

  23. […] same time re-discover their original purpose. Physicist Peter Coles is doing just that and plans to launch a new open access astrophysics journal, as yet unnamed, in January […]

  24. How about Cosmos? It derives from the Greek word for order, so you can claim to be bringing order to the chaos of the journal system.

  25. Chris Brunt Says:

    I think you have to call it the Total Perspective Vortex.

  26. ‘Astrophysics Stuff’

  27. Anton Garrett Says:

    “It really isn’t matter any more.”

  28. I think a potential issue with one word pretentious titles (e.g. ‘Astrophysics’) is that they may be difficult to google, at least initially.

    It’s a shame ‘Astra’ means mass-market hatchback.

    ‘astro.phys’ is a pretty zeitgeist-y, although I don’t think you can have .phys as a top level domain yet…

    ‘Astrode’?

  29. Per aspera ad astra?

  30. It looks like it is finally going ahead. Will the distinguished members of the board of directors be announced before the launch proper?

    I think the following points are essential. I’ve mentioned them in other comments, but here is the executive summary:

    If you rely on arXiv for submission, then you have to think about people who are wrongly excluded (perhaps out of ignorance) from arXiv (presumably those who are rightly excluded wouldn’t submit anything acceptable to the journal anyway). This means having an alternative submission mechanism. This must also be open for all. Note that some institutes have policies against posting stuff on arXiv before acceptance, so they would have to use the alternate mechanism as well. Some people might simply prefer it.

    If you rely on arXiv for distribution, then you have to have enough clout with arXiv such that all accepted papers are guaranteed to be hosted by arXiv.

    Note that arXiv often provides no rationale for its decisions and there is no formal appeal mechanism. Emails are not always answered. For astrophysics, the moderators are not even publicly known. This is OK for arXiv but a serious journal needs to be a bit more transparent here.

    It is essential that the journal have its own LaTeX macros. A paper from the new journal should be recognizable as such. Also, the competition will probably disapprove and might even take legal action if their own macro packages, or something too similar to them, are used. This would be a good chance for someone who is knowledgeable in all relevant fields to come up with some really good macro packages. In particular, pay attention to the front matter.

    Keep in mind what your former adviser, the Famous Writer, once advised: good writing is good. Refereeing should be concerned not only with the scientific content, but also with language: grammar, spelling (please use the Oxford variant of British spelling), style etc.

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      Yes, the new journal would need its own LaTeX macros, but surely that would be something that could be set up without too much effort by scientists. (Established publishers might think things like LaTeX macros might be difficult to create, but we have such a lot of computing experience in the research community that we could create macros quickly and easily.)

      I would suggest that the journal publishes articles in PDF and postscript format, but also has a website that shows single pages in a standard image format (e.g. JPEG, GIF) in the way the ADS does.

      The new journal would need to send published articles to the ADS in whatever formats the ADS likes. The ADS may want to archive the new journal in the same way it archives old editions of major printed journals. Adding current papers from the new journal to the ADS would reassure the research community that the journal will be a long-lived part of the reseach literature. Any ADS archives would be in addition to the journal’s own website.

      The use of colour could be the norm on figures. The new journal could allow links to animations on YouTube, provided these are approved by the referee.

  31. ”The Astrophysics Open”

    With annual honors for best article, second best article and third best article.

  32. […] to authors. That will be going on-line in the not-too-distant future. One thing remaining to be resolved is the name for the new system. I still haven’t decided on that, but at least I now know to whose name it […]

  33. […] other thing  I would still like some ideas about is the name. I have asked about this before, but still haven’t settled on a compelling selection so I’m repeating the request […]

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