The Open Journal for Astrophysics is Open for Test Submissions!

Just a quick announcement that we’re stepping up the testing phase of the Open Journal for Astrophysics and would really appreciate it if astrophysicists and cosmologists out there would help us out by submitting papers for us to run through our swish new refereeing system.

Just to remind you The Open Journal for Astrophysics is completely free both for submission and for access; there are no Author Processing Charges and no subscription payments. All papers will be fully peer-reviewed using a system which is, as far as I’m concerned, far better than any professional astrophysical journal currently offers. All this is provided free by members of the astrophysics community as a service to the astrophysics community.

I know that many will be nervous about submitting the results of their research to such a new venture, but I hope there will be plenty among you who agree with me that the only way we can rid ourselves of the enormous and unnecessary financial burdens placed on us by the academic publishing industry is by proving that we can do the job better by ourselves without their intervention.

The project has changed a little since I suggest the idea last year, but the submission procedure is basically that which I originally envisaged. All you have to do is submit your paper to the arXiv and let us know its reference when this has been accomplished. Our software will then pick up the arXiv posting automatically and put it into our refereeing pipeline.

In future we will have our own latex template to produce a distinctive style for papers, but this is not needed for the testing phase so feel free to use any latex style you wish for your submission.

For the time being the OJFA website and associated repositories are not publicly available, but that’s just so we can test it thoroughly before it goes fully live, probably early in the new year; at that point all the papers passing peer review during the test phase will be published. I’m really excited about the forthcoming launch which will, I hope, generate quite a lot of publicity about the whole issue of open access publishing.

If anyone has any questions about this please feel free to ask via the comments box. Also please pass this on via twitter, etc. The more, and the more varied, papers we get to handle over the next couple of months the quicker we can get on with the revolution! So what are you waiting for? Let’s have your papers!

37 Responses to “The Open Journal for Astrophysics is Open for Test Submissions!”

  1. I work in a field where papers are posted to ArXiv once they are accepted. Will there be a way to submit papers without putting them publicly on ArXiv?

    • telescoper Says:

      There will, but it’s not available at this point…

      My personal opinion is that it’s better to put papers on the arXiv as soon as they’re ready for submission – that way you can get more suggestions for improvements than just the referee. I’ve had a lot of helpful comments on papers submitted to the arXiv this way.

      • That’s true, although it does provide an incentive to rush analysis of (often public) data so you can post on ArXiv first.

  2. You do realize that the arxiv rejects some papers, and that these rejections can be fairly arbitrary and capricious?

    I know from direct experience that these rejections are not just to keep out spammers and the like, and do not think you should use arxiv as a prefilter for an open, peer-reviewed, journal (at least, not without offering an alternate path).

  3. Bryn Jones Says:

    What happens if a paper posted to the Arxiv is subsequently rejected by the OJFA? It will still live on the Arxiv presumably.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Congratulations Peter. I wish this project every success.

    Why do you say your peer review is better than that of “professional astrophysical journals”? The OJA system has some very great advantages but I did not think this was one of them.

    • telescoper Says:

      What I meant was that the system for doing the peer review is much slicker that what referees have to put up with for other journals…

  5. Jonathan Thornburg Says:

    Hmm. A colleague and I are currently writing a paper describing some results of a project that we’ve been working on for 3 or 4 years. But I would need need considerably more information about OJfA before I would consider submitting to it, notably a public website containing information like:
    * a reasonable indication of what sort of papers the journal considers appropriate — just saying “astrophysics” is way too vague (e.g., I can’t tell if the median hep-* preprint discussing an astrophysical system would be appropriate? Nor can I tell about gr-qc or physics-*. Indeed, I can’t tell if my current paper would be considered “astrophysics” or not.)
    * more generally, the journal needs author guidelines
    covering such things as what manuscript lengths are considered appropriate
    * what are the journal’s policies regarding access to data which supports a paper?
    * a statement of editorial practices and procedures
    (covering such things as what happens when referees disagree, what appeal mechanisms there are, what mechanisms there might be for authors to request that $bitter_professional_rival NOT be involved in the refereeing process, etc)

    I think these and similar issues need to be fleshed out
    (and posed on the journal’s public website) *before* authors can reasonably be expected to submit preprints.

    • telescoper Says:

      If you would submit it to astro-ph on the arXiv then it will be considered.

      I think I made it clear that this is for testing the review systems. If you’re uncomfortable with that then feel free not to submit anything. All the information you request will be available on the site when it goes public.

    • As a layperson (retired professor of medicine) I was amused with this post. On the one hand there is a criticism about vagueness; on the other the poster describes research ongoing for 3 or 4 years. So, was it 3 or 4 or 3.67?

  6. Cristiano Sabiu Says:

    Once the paper is submitted to the Arxiv, how do we let you know? Email, web-form, ….?

  7. I had a question about the subjects covered by this journal. You mention astrophysicists and cosmologists. Are planetary astronomy papers (ie. Kuiper belt size distribution analysis, exoplanet population statistics and discoveries, asteroid observations, etc) also included as topics to be published in this journal? Is there an editor who is experienced in that or a related field that can select appropriate referees and assess referee reports?

  8. telescoper Says:

    Indeed. We’ve done precisely what you suggest for the first phase of testing, but we need more papers faster than the Editors can supply them!

  9. Anton Garrett Says:

    Anyone volunteering to do that will face a problem. Either you don’t give reasons for rejecting papers, which seems unfair; or you do give reasons, which will tie you up in many hours of crazy correspondence with cranks. OK, you might say that your decision is final and you will not enter into further correspondence after giving your reasons, but (1) even one letter per crank is going to be quite time-consuming, and (2) it takes an iron will not to get drawn into further correspondence.

    But I do agree with the issue you raise, as I doubt that I would get onto arXiv, given my ex-academic status nowadays, without a ‘sponsor’.

  10. For this test phase do you want test papers (I.e. Papers that would not oth wise be submitted to journals) or real papers? If the former, what should define them, and if the latter, how will they be recognized or hosted after they have been accepted?

    • telescoper Says:

      Real papers, please! If and when accepted papers will be published on the OJFA website, with full DOI details etc so their citations etc can be tracked.

  11. ArXiv’s ~1Meg size limit for figure files is going to be a problem for image heavy data papers if you want to have decent quality. The Hubble XDF, for example, cannot be rendered in 1Meg.

    • You can upload low-res image to arXiv and include a link to a hi-res version; that’s what most folk do with big data sets. This would be a good test for the system, actually…

      • The default size limit for astro-ph is 15MB (total, uncompressed) and these days arXiv is rather flexible with size limits. The automatic size limits serve as a reminder to think about efficiency and accessibility but most exception requests are reasonable and quickly granted.

      • Won’t a referee need to see images in full quality? I can recall some of the HDF images on arXiv being distinctly muddy.

      • Why not include a link to the high-res version in the appropriate field on the arXiv submission?

      • The arXiv rubric seems to discourage that.

  12. Jonathan Thornburg Says:

    Have you considered joining the PLoS family of open-access journals, e.g., becoming “PLoS Astrophysics”?
    This would automatically give you editorial practices, an online manuscript submission submission and editorial system, a publishing platform, and (last but very definitely not least) a lot of credibility.

  13. As noted, the author fee is waived for authors who do not have sufficient funds. The process for requesting such a waiver is not odious (just check a box on the web form).

    The PLoS editorial staff are NOT informed of the author’s fee payment or lack thereof, so this has no influence on editorial processing of the article.

    It would be interesting to know what fraction of {submitted,published} manuscripts have fee waivers, but I don’t know those statistics.

    Disclosure: $spouse is an (unpaid) academic editor for PLoS One (in a non-physical-sciences subject area).

    • “The process for requesting such a waiver is not odious”

      I’m glad to hear it, but perhaps you meant “onerous”?

      Anyway, we’ll be waiving all fees for everyone.

  14. @telescoper:
    Oops. You’re right: s/odious/onerous/

    > What would happen if someone who obviously has the
    > funds ticks the waiver box on the web form?
    S/he would not pay the fee. So far as I know, there is no
    verification of whether or not the author “has the funds”:
    it is purely an “hono[u]r system”.

  15. [In the main blog entry] @telescoper wrote:
    > All papers will be fully peer-reviewed using a system
    > which is, as far as I’m concerned, far better than any
    > professional astrophysical journal currently offers. All
    > this is provided free by members of the astrophysics
    > community as a service to the astrophysics community.

    Can you provide any more details about how this will
    work? Basically, I’m wondering how the editorial process
    will work — who will assign referees to manuscripts, who
    will vet referees for conflicts-of-interest, who will handle
    author appeals of referee rejections, and (perhaps the trickiest cases of all) who will handle cases where referee #1 says “great paper — approve” and referee #2 says “horribly-flawed paper — reject”?

  16. […] anything for a while about the Open Journal for Astrophysics. For a start I have to admit that the call for test submissions last year was a bit premature. I should have been more patient and ensured that the system was […]

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