Open Journal of Astrophysics Revived

Regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) 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. As people interested in this project will be aware, progress on this has been slower than I’d anticipated, largely because I changed job recently and have had so many administrative responsibilities that I haven’t had time to get too involved with it. The other folk who offered help have also been similarly preoccupied and some technical issues remain to be solved. However, the project has not been abandoned. Far from it. In fact, I’ve just received an update that strongly suggests we can get this idea off the ground over the course of the summer, so that it is in place in time for the new academic year.

We have a (good) website design with ample space and other resources to run it, and a significant 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.

There are, however, a couple of things I’d like to ask of my readers.

The first concerns the Editorial Board. I plan to contact those who offered help with this, but I’m still open to more volunteers. So, would anyone interested in getting involved – or at least thinking about getting involved please contact me via email. Also if you previously agreed please feel free to email to confirm your continued interest or, if you’ve changed your mind please let me know too.

The 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 here.

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!

44 Responses to “Open Journal of Astrophysics Revived”

  1. Keeping it really simple and along the lines of Nature… How about just “Universe”?

  2. Chris Brunt Says:

    Some non-traditional ones:

    One last lobby for “Total Perspective Vortex”.

    How about “Apple Pie from Scratch”.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Think of a new title with the word “journal” in and then replace that word with “network”.

  4. In analogy to this strangely-named journal, but at the opposite end of the scale, you could go for Large. But please don’t.

  5. The Open Progress of Astrophysics

  6. I don’t have a title suggestion (although quite like the “Universe” suggestion above), but would be inclined to not put “open” in the title. This is mainly because the academic spam emails I receive requesting that I submit an article to a new open-access journal do often have “open” in the title. So, I’m starting to associate the word with these predatory journals.

  7. Bryn Jones Says:

    As for a name, perhaps avoid the Fortnightly Notices of the Regal Astrophysics Association. And avoid All That Shines.

    Maybe something like these?

    Transparent Astrophysics.

    The Transparent Universe.

    The Visible Universe.

    Free Astrophysics.

    The Universe Revealed.

    Astrophysics Revealed.

    Our Universe.

    Everyman’s Astrophysics might sound sexist.

  8. Anton Garrett Says:

    Evolutionary Journal of Astrophysics.

    Astrophysical Cloud J.

  9. glmackie Says:

    Community Networking…

  10. glmackie Says:

    Cosmic Rays
    Cosmic Transverse
    The Expanding Universe
    Cosmic Network

  11. glmackie Says:

    Astrophysics Publishing Access
    Cosmic Press-Release for the People

  12. David PS Says:

    Since you don’t like the term “journal”, what about “feed”? That gives me a feel of continuous update.

    Astrophysics feed
    Universe feed
    Astrofeed

  13. Anton Garrett Says:

    Refereed Archive for Astrophysics

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Or, if the arXiv finds that a bit cheeky, Refereed BLAH for Astrophysics, where BLAH denotes something that distinguishes it from a paper journal. The point is the word “Refereed”. It could start a trend.

  14. Robert King Says:

    How about simply “Astrophysics Research” or “The Astrophysics Repository”?

  15. Astrophysics Unbound
    Unbound Orbits
    Opacity = 0

  16. glmackie Says:

    astrophysXnet.

  17. I also like “Universe” as a name.

  18. “Astrophysical Papers”

    The term “open” may become dated in a decade or two, and “Universe” seems too geared towards cosmology IMO.

  19. Open Astrophysics Repository. Then submitting a paper could be known as “sticking your OAR in”.

  20. Astrophysical Examinations

  21. Anais Rassat Says:

    I like the idea of having “refereed” in the title or something suggesting this. What about “Astrophysics Review”.

  22. Ben Burningham Says:

    Half serious: The Astrophysics Free Press

    More serious: (refereed) updates in astrophysics

  23. Given the success things like twitter, tumblr, imgur and flickr; it should be short, simiple, enigmatic and end in “r”. I therefore propose “AstroR”, but won’t say what the “R” is (but give conflicting hints that it’s for “Review” or “Refereed” or “Really-simple-syndication”.

  24. Um, “Big Juggs” would drive up casual hits….

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      No, Rhodri, that name’s already in use by a magazine full of glossy pictures.

      Or so I’ve been told. By a friend. And I deny all knowledge of it. And I deny taking out a subscription.

  25. I’ll try to come up with a good name tomorrow. :-)

    One needs to make sure that there is not some other (perhaps obscure) journal already using the name.

    Instead of “Universe”, what about “Cosmos”?

    “Light in the Dark”?

    I think the title should be descriptive. “Cosmology, Astrophysics and Astronomy”?

    I would avoid putting buzz words in the title.

    • I would go with Cosmology, Astrophysics and Astronomy. I am pretty sure there is no journal with this name and it covers the areas which presumably should appear in the journal. It can become known as “C-A-squared”. There is no “journal” in the title, and it avoids buzzwords (like “open”, “online” etc) which will probably sound dated rather quickly.

  26. Cole’s Cosmology

  27. I welcome this initiative! (Un)fortunately grants/fellowships/promotions and all that mundane stuff is still heavily (more than I like to admit) based on numerology such as cites and impact factor of the journals where one publishes. Are you planning to try to get the journal into ISI so it gets the “stamp of approval” of an ISI impact factor and all that?

    • telescoper Says:

      Impact factors are in my opinion completely bogus (see recent reblogging) and their use is inconsistent with, e.g. DORA (to which my institution is a signatory). Why use an Impact Factor when you measure any paper’s citations directly?

      • I personally could not agree more. But the day my student / postdoc applies for academic jobs or I apply for grants or the dept funding is being decided, ISI impact factors rule. All else is penalized. I am not saying that this is a good thing or that it cannot be changed in the long term. Just that it is going to be an uphill battle to put it mildly.

      • telescoper Says:

        Well no selection committee or grant panel I have ever participated in has ever even mentioned Impact Factors, so I am surprised by your comment.

      • “Why use an Impact Factor when you measure any paper’s citations directly? “

        Indeed!

      • “Well no selection committee or grant panel I have ever participated in has ever even mentioned Impact Factors, so I am surprised by your comment.”

        I don’t know how often they are used. Of course, those who calculate them would like everyone to believe that they are essential.

      • “But the day my student / postdoc applies for academic jobs…ISI impact factors rule”

        Not necessarily. If you write a good letter of recommendation, and the student has published good papers (in the OJA or elsewhere), then why shouldn’t the student be hired? If someone already has the money to hire someone, such an employer can usually call his own shots. Once I was on a selection committee for a full professorship. Not once were impact factors mentioned.

        As long as your own salary is secure, your personal existence is not threatened by ignoring the bullshit. There are funding possibilities which don’t rely on impact-factor bullshit; concentrate on them. Refuse to work for bullshit-producing organizations.

        Yes, it might be an uphill battle. But it is a battle worth fighting.

        Anyone can easily calculate the impact factor of the OJA or any other journal. Frankly, if some funding agency says that they consider impact factors (bad enough in themselves) only when calculated by some corporation (which probably collects a hefty fee), then I would take my business elsewhere.

        Yes, the the poor student who doesn’t have a choice can perhaps be forgiven for toeing the line. But if anything can be changed, it can be changed only by those with secure positions. I think Peter can use all the support he can get and I admire him for his courage in getting the ball rolling (rather difficult when it is rolling uphill).

        Most people who are hired are either young people just starting out, or people applying for more senior positions. In the first case, if the selection committee does not read all papers of all applicants, they are incompetent. (If they are hiring someone in their field, then they might have read most of them anyway.) In the second case, the candidate will be known to the committee (if not, then the committee is incompetent) and there is more information to base the decision on than number of papers, number of citations, etc.

        For an unknown person, it is is essential to have published in reputable journals. But the reputation of a journal should be decided by its own current standards. Whether it is on some official bullshit list shouldn’t matter. (Last night, I read parts of a paper I read in detail a few weeks ago. It was one of the worst papers I have ever read, and was published in a traditional, “respected” journal which is probably on all the relevant lists. (Even though it was in astronomy, it was not one of the main astronomy journals.) So, those who rely on lists rather than actually reading the papers probably get what they deserve.)

      • In several occasions I have been handed in tables of IF for journals even as a function of time (!) and had to judge/be judged weighting papers (and cites) in base of this numbers (with some precise formula as well). In many cases it all then gets summarised into one number and ranking is done. In some notable selection procedures (e.g. Ramon y Cajal positions in Spain: these are equivalent to junior faculty positions) there are not even reference letters! Yes it is an aberration.
        I would be curious to know how generalised this is.

      • Here is one of the more absurd stories I’ve heard with regard to impact factors. Details deliberately vague to protect the innocent.

        Someone told me that he had recently finished a paper but wasn’t allowed to publish it any of the leading astronomy journals, because someone else at the same institute had recently published something in Nature. Since the funding agency gives Brownie points for the fraction of papers in high-bullshit, errm, high impact-factor journals, publishing this paper in MNRAS or A;amp;A would lower the fraction and thus endanger the funding.

        Einstein allegedly said: “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I’m not sure about the former.”

  28. Here is one of the more absurd stories I’ve heard with regard to impact factors. Details deliberately vague to protect the innocent.

    Someone told me that he had recently finished a paper but wasn’t allowed to publish it any of the leading astronomy journals, because someone else at the same institute had recently published something in Nature. Since the funding agency gives Brownie points for the fraction of papers in high-bullshit, errm, high impact-factor journals, publishing this paper in MNRAS or A&A would lower the fraction and thus endanger the funding.

    Einstein allegedly said: “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I’m not sure about the former.”

  29. Another aspect of impact-factor bullshit: http://retractionwatch.com/2015/02/09/refreshing-honesty-journal-asks-authors-help-game-impact-factor/

    Suppose I am hiring people for a basketball team. To make the short list, perhaps I have a minimum height. Then some guy complains because, even though he is only 150 cm tall, he was at training camp with a lot of tall guys. That, my friends, is impact factor.

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