The Open Journal for Astrophysics Project

I owe many people various apologies for not posting 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 complete before going public. I hope nobody has been too seriously inconvenienced by the ongoing delay.

The project has got stalled a bit largely because I have just had too many things to do to devote enough time to complete the final stages needed to go fully live and also one of the people helping with the project Arfon Smith moved to a new job. Arfon and Chris Lintott have posted an account of the project so far which gives a bit more detail about how we wanted to realize the project (hosted by GitHub); the code development has involved major work by Robert Simpson and Stuart Lynn in addition to Arfon and Chris.  In essence they say that the job is now about 80% complete. I would have said it was more like 75%, so the OJFA is in some sense just the OJF at the moment! Much of what remains is not actual programming stuff but administrative stuff involved with, e.g., arranging the assignment of  digital object identifiers (DOIs) and so on, all of which has been on my to-do list for several months now.

Anywhere, just to show you that the whole project isn’t just hot air here is a demonstration of the snazzy user interface which we plan to use to facilitate the online refereeing process:

However, in the spirit not only of open access publishing but also of open source programming, Arfon has made available all the codes that have been developed so far. One intention of this is that  these can be adapted  for other OJFs hence the construction of a generic website ( as well as the hope that some folks out there might help us bright the OJFA itself to completion. Anyone out there with the requisite skills is welcome to volunteer, either through the comments box here or through the OJ repository. If we can get enough volunteers we can meet and put together a plan to bring this idea to completion at last.

Despite being forced to accept that my own workload makes it difficult for me to be as involved as I’d like to be in this project I’d still really love to get this project off the ground. I hope I can use the time freed up by no longer being a member of RAS Council to work on the OJFA. I no longer have a conflict of interest in that regard either; like many other learned societies the RAS currently makes a large fraction of its income from academic publishing!

As Arfon mentions in his piece, the recent BICEP2 episode in particular provides pretty strong motivation that we need a new concept of academic publishing. Practical difficulties may have intervened for now but the motivation for the project itself is stronger now than it has ever been.


6 Responses to “The Open Journal for Astrophysics Project”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Actually I’d call it the Nearly Open Journal for Astrophysics at this moment. Doesn’t matter how long it takes (within reason), it is a deeply worthy project, and it was your vision. I wish it every success, and likewise for sister online journals.

  2. brissioni Says:

    The birth of a new professional journal is big. It will be a good thing if it succeeds. Maybe next year it will be happy mother’s day for you guys.

  3. David Crawford Says:

    I am disappointed by the delays in getting OJFA up and running. I had submitted a paper in January to the test system. The major reason for this submission is that it is a very controversial paper that has been summarily rejected by major journals and I wish to get a proper criticism from someone who is not completely biased against a static universe. The title is “Type 1a supernovae observations are consistent with a static universe” and is can accessed at

    I welcome any comments, especially those that show that my analysis is flawed.
    David Crawford

    • David Crawford Says:

      I thank Phillip Helbig for providing a good example of why it is extremely difficult to get alternative papers on cosmology accepted by major journals. First he condemns the paper by association with the fact that a previous paper was published in the Journal of Cosmology. My excuse at the time was that it is a very long paper (~150p) and I could not get it published in a more reputable journal.

      Next he goes on at length about prediction and postdiction of observations. It was not clear to me what he was talking about. However he suggests that the magnitude-redshift relation was constructed to fit the data. If he had checked references he would have discovered that the much of the theory was published in ApJ 410, 488 (1993) and the magnitude-redshift equation was published in ApJ 440, 466 (1995). There were no changes to the theoretical model made in the supernova paper.

      Finally he suggests that he expects, without any justification, that a full reading of the paper would uncover sufficient reasons to reject the paper. Since he posted his note within hours of mine being published I can only surmise that his purpose was to get in early and condemn the paper without any reasonable analysis.

      As a side issue I will briefly describe the rejections I have had from major journals for the supernova paper.

      MNRAS : “There are numerous observations, not considered here, which exclude a static Universe model and hence the work is of no practical relevance for our Universe. Supernova data are certainly not crucial, or even necessary, to reach that conclusion. ”
      ApJ: “We have now completed our review of your manuscript, and I regret to tell you that we are not able to undertake further consideration of your submission for publication in the The Astrophysical Journal.”

      A&A: ” After consideration by our Editorial Board, I regret to inform you that your manuscript cannot be considered for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics.”

      I have also tried PASA with similar results.

      David Crawford

  4. David Crawford Says:

    I thank Phillip for his extensive comments . Most of the article he is so disparaging about (arxiv 1009.0953) is about comparing my model to numerous astrophysical observations. In particular it has excellent agreement for the magnitude-redshift equation with quasar and galaxy observations. Clearly in a static model it does not have time dependence.

    All I have requested is that anyone who wishes read my paper as a referee and let me know your criticisms. (My email is in the paper)
    If you find it acceptable I am more than willing to discuss other aspects of the theory.

    David Crawford

  5. peter: any thoughts on this – which i believe is going to cover astronomy (and i assume cosmology)? ian

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