The Open Journal of Astrophysics Blog

Since I’ve recently been boring all my readers with a stream of stuff about the Open Journal of Astrophysics, I thought I might as well continue by pointing out that this journal also has a blog feature, on which we will include commentaries on some of the papers published and on wider issues in astrophysics. To illustrate this feature I’ve written a short post about the background to the Open Journal project, which you can find here. The text is as below.

I first proposed this idea several years ago and it has taken a while to make it happen, but here we are at last.

Astrophysics has taken the lead for many years in opening up access to scientific publications – all publications of any merit are available for free on the internet via the arXiv and, in my opinion, the traditional journals are already more-or-less redundant even without considering their “astronomical” cost. The one thing that seems a consistent objection to dispensing with journals altogether is the element of peer review.

My suggestion was that we set up a quick-and-easy system to circumvent the traditional (ruinously expensive) publishing route. The basic idea is that authors who submit papers to the arXiv can have their papers refereed by the community, outside the usual system of traditional journals. I was intially thinking of a website on which authors would simply have to post their arXiv ID and a request for peer review. Once accepted, the author would be allowed to mark the arXiv posting as “refereed” and an electronic version would be made available for free on the website. What we have now is a little more involved than that, but the basic idea remains the same.

Whether or not this idea is a success really depends partly on the willingness of the community to submit high-quality papers here, and partly on the performance of those of us involved on the Editorial Board at providing the community with what I hope will prove to be an effective resource.

 

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4 Responses to “The Open Journal of Astrophysics Blog”

  1. The RSS feed could be improved here as well.

    This new blog won’t itself have comments, right? Presumably it is for comments on papers?

  2. “Whether or not this idea is a success really depends partly on the willingness of the community to submit high-quality papers here, and partly on the performance of those of us involved on the Editorial Board at providing the community with what I hope will prove to be an effective resource.”

    Presumably it also depends on making sure that no papers with substantial deficiencies will be published. (Presumably arXiv will filter out obviously crackpot stuff, not allowing it into the astrophysics category.)

    I remember an editorial in one of the leading journals which said (I don’t know if this is still the policy) that it is not enough that a paper be correct and present new results. In other words, papers on the orbital elements of binary stars might not be appropriate, for instance. What is the OJA policy here?

    Also, replication is crucial to good science, but in many journals a paper which “merely” confirms the results of another is difficult to publish. This discourages people from checking the results of others, since it pays off as a publication only if they find something wrong.

    Of course, all papers should be detailed enough that someone else with sufficient resources could, at least in principle, duplicate the results exactly. This also goes for papers which check the results of other papers, whether or not they find something wrong.

    Personal websites can be fickle, but we probably don’t want pages of data in the journal itself (though one of my favourite papers is in this mode). Will the OJA have its own data repository? If not, why not? If so, what should go in it? Raw CCD data? High-resolution images? Data used to make plots? Catalogues of objects?

  3. Peter, is OJA also open to submissions from arXiv on gr-qc?

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