The Open Journal of Astrophysics – Update

The observant among you will have noticed that the website for the Open Journal of Astrophysics is currently offline. This emphatically does not mean that this project is dead so

In fact we’re in the process of moving the journal to a new platform (at the same web address) and the new site will be up and running as soon as we have completed the transfer, have tested the new configuration and done a few administrative things. All papers already published on the old site will be transferred to the new one and their DOI will remain unchanged. In fact the old site is still available, but at a secret location.

I’ll be blogging in a bit more detail about the new-look Open Journal of Astrophysics in due course, but in the mean time I’ll just make a few points.

First and foremost, if you don’t know what this project is about it is an idea I first floated over five years ago, shortly before I moved to Sussex. Although we got a website together and published a few papers, for one reason or another I didn’t have time to iron out some remaining bugs and the project stalled. However, after my move to Maynooth University I’ve been delighted to receive the support of the Maynooth University Library team and we’re now moving ahead. I know there have been a few false dawns on this project – for which I apologize – so I won’t announce the full re-opening until I’m absolutely sure everything works.

Second, and actually most importantly, the Editorial Board for the Open Journal of Astrophysics is looking for new members. We already have several distinguished editors, but the expertise we currently have is concentrated (not surprisingly) in cosmology, and we would really appreciate volunteers from other areas of astrophysics (especially stars/exoplanets, etc). If you’re interested please let me know.

Third, although the platform will look a little different (i.e. better) the overall philosophy of the Open Journal will remain as it always was, a fully `Green’ Open Access Journal, as defined by the following points:

  • There will be no charge for accessing or downloading OJA papers (i.e. no subscription fee).
  • There will be no charge for submitting, reviewing or publishing OJA papers (i.e. no `article processing charge’).
  • The OJA is a peer-reviewed journal; all papers accepted for publication will be assigned a DOI and registered with Crossref for citation tracking purposes.
  • The OJA is an arXiv overlay journal, so paper submitted to it must first be submitted to the arXiv.

Finally, I will mention that I was motivated to post this update by a piece by George Monbiot in todays’s Guardian. I don’t agree with everything Monbiot says, but he is dead right about this:

In the great majority of cases, the research reported has been funded by taxpayers. Most of the work involved in writing the papers, reviewing and editing them is carried out at public expense by people at universities. Yet this public asset has been captured, packaged and sold back to us for phenomenal fees. Those who pay most are publicly funded libraries. Taxpayers must shell out twice: first for the research, then to see the work they have sponsored. There might be legal justifications for this practice. There are no ethical justifications.

I’ve said as much myself on this blog. My point is that the academic publishing industry is not going to change of its own volition. If the Academic Journal Racket is to be rumbled, it is we (by which I mean academics and our institutions) who have to take control. Sitting on our hands while we get systematically fleeced is not an option. One way to do this is for institutions and organizations to themselves become Open Access publishers, which is precisely what my current institution is doing: Maynooth University will be the official publisher of the Open Journal of Astrophysics (and hopefully many more similar journals in the future).


25 Responses to “The Open Journal of Astrophysics – Update”

  1. Where do you disagree?

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Good luck to this project.

  3. To be clear, I keep complaining because I want the OJA to succeed. 😐

    Perhaps readers here can weigh in on whether their institutional policy at least discourages them from submitting to arXiv before acceptance and/or whether they prefer to wait for acceptance before submitting to arXiv for other reasons.

    I know several who do, but they should out themselves, if at all. 😐

    If (as is probably the case) this affects only a small number of authors, then by the same token not much effort would be involved in an alternative submission mechanism. (There would have to be some guarantee, though, that all submissions accepted by OJA would be accepted by arXiv.)

    Again, I volunteer to screen such submissions, i.e. folks could email me a PDF and if I think it is reasonable (i.e. I would do crackpot rejection, not refereeing), I could pass it on. This would at least avoid other people wasting their time. 😐 But there would have to be some procedure after it is passed on.

  4. Philip, right now I don’t think there is any institute (I know of) which discourages people from submitting to arxiv, before it is been accepted.

    • How many astronomical institutes are there in the world? Probably several hundred.

      As I mentioned, this policy at least used to be in place at Jodrell Bank. (While there, I also wrote a document describing the official submission procedure. Much of that has changed in the meantime, of course, but I don’t know if the policy is still in place. Maybe the Jodrell-Bank readers here—both of you—can weigh in.)

      I also know some people who personally prefer, at least in some cases, to wait until acceptance before posting to arXiv. If the OJA can be more inclusive with just a little more effort, I think that that would be a Good Thing.

  5. From the PDF for Plan S linked to from the Guardian piece, it looks like you might even be able to get some funding for the OJA.

  6. I generally don’t submit to arXiv until after acceptance. This may well be my imposter syndrome at work.

    Meanwhile, my institution does not regard arXiv as an acceptable open access repository for some reason, so all my papers have to be copied again onto an institutional server. Madness.

    • One of the advantages of submitting to arXiv first is that you get a lot of comments in addition to those supplied by the referee.

      Tediously, however, many of the comments I get are just from people wanting to add references to their papers..

    • Impostor syndrome is one possible reason not to submit to arXiv before acceptance. Another is institutional policy. Another are people who have never submitted to arXiv. (The sponsorship method can be difficult for people in out of the way places, but an accepted paper in a respected journal usually opens the door to arXiv. 😐 ) Another is the fear that someone working on the same topic, but with more power and better connections, might get their paper published first. (They might not have submitted their paper to arXiv for the same reasons.) It would be a shame if all of these were excluded from the OJA. 😦 I have knowledge of all of these cases having happened.

      It is strange that they don’t recognize arXiv, but if it is just a matter of copying the paper, that can be dealt with easily.

      There are public servers, like arXiv, institutional ones, and personal ones. Various journals allow hosting the paper on some (possibly empty) subset of these. Also, some don’t allow the final version.

    • It’s not your institution, it’s HEFCE that says that arXiv is not compliant. See here:

      • In this absurd ruling HEFCE is of course responding to pressure from the academic publishing lobby.

        I was assured by Cardiff’s REF team that OJA papers would be admissible for the REF. I have, however, now moved to Ireland where there is no REF so I no longer have to worry about such silliness.

      • “The HEFCE requirements on repositories are defined in the Information and Audit Requirements which lists the “Accepted date”, the “Version of deposited file” and “available open access immediately after the publisher embargo” are expected as part of the REF submission. However, while many records in arXiv have multiple versions of work, the Author’s Accepted Manuscript is not identified and there is no field to record the acceptance date of the work. Because arXiv does not capture these two specific information points it does not meet the technical requirements to be a compliant subject repository for the purposes of REF.”

        It would be trivial for arXiv to implement these changes. Why don’t they do it?

      • Of course, there is a field for the journal reference (but, sadly, not required), and the comments can state which version was accepted when. But I agree that it would be nice if this information were in a required field.

      • Lucky you. But yes, I see no reason why OJA papers would not be compliant if they were *also* posted to an institutional repository that stores the appropriate metadata, which is what we have to do with conventional journals anyway.

      • Actually Maynooth also has an institutional repository (as do most institutions) and I’m working with them on overlay journals that sit on that so they can publish appropriate content from there, e.g. Conference proceedings.

      • Previous comment @telescoper of course. Phillip, I imagine the folks at arXiv think that if they run around implementing every random requirement of every national authority, they may not have much time for doing their actual jobs.

      • I don’t think that that is the reason. I think that they want to be seen as an alternative to traditional journals, rather than as something complementary—despite the fact that the main reason arXiv quality is high is because most stuff (which is not redirected to the “almost crackpot” category) still goes to traditional journals.

        It would increase the usefulness of arXiv enormously if one could easily see whether a paper had been accepted and if so where and when. Just have it as an extra field which has to be updated within, say, six months of submission to arXiv, even if just to say “no change”, and again within another six months, and so on. After, say, two years, and/or if not updated every six months until acceptance, it would automatically default to “paper was never published elsewhere”, which, of course, people could and should correct if appropriate.

        I’ve been requesting this for 20 years and it has always fallen on deaf ears.

  7. […] nice to see that my recent post on the Open Journal of Astrophysics has been attracting some interest. The project is developing […]

  8. “Actually Maynooth also has an institutional repository (as do most institutions) and I’m working with them on overlay journals that sit on that so they can publish appropriate content from there, e.g. Conference proceedings.”

    This could be the solution to my request for an alternative submission mechanism. Those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to put something on arXiv (or elsewhere where it is publicly available) until acceptance, could submit it via the Maynooth repository, perhaps with the understanding that on acceptance it must be submitted to arXiv. the OJA could then have links to arXiv and to the repository for all papers.

    • You can find an example of such a journal that will probably end up operating on that model here.

      • Interesting.

        If the OJA, or rather some people who need a non-arXiv repository, could benefit from being on the Maynooth repository as well as arXiv, then why not have it overlay both, i.e. the OJA could have, for each article, a link to the Maynooth repository and one to arXiv. This might allow an easy alternate-submission solution.

  9. Should it be referred to as Oh-Jay? 😐

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