## Plan S – are you compliant?

Posted in Open Access with tags , , on November 19, 2020 by telescoper

Those nice people at cOAlition S have produced a new online tool that allows authors to check whether a given academic journal complies with the requirements of Plan S as they apply to a given funder and institution. For information on how ot works see here. For the actual tool (beta version) see here.

Obviously I checked how it applies to the Open Journal of Astrophysics and here’s an example result!

## Open Access, but at what cost?

Posted in Open Access with tags , on October 23, 2020 by telescoper

I couldn’t resist passing on the news that the Max Planck Digital Library has signed an agreement with the Nature Publishing Group to enable authors in about 120 German institutes to publish Open Access articles in Nature journals.

That’s the set up, now here’s the punchline.

Each paper published in this way will cost the authors – or more accurately the authors’ institutes and/or research grants – the sum of €9,500.

No that’s not a misprint. It’s about $11,200, or about £8600. For each paper. Typical article processing charges in the range of$2000 or so are already out of all proportion to the cost of publishing scientific papers; at this level they are simply ridiculous. Recent experiences suggest these charges are out of all proportion to the quality of the editorial process too!

The person who negotiated the arrangement, Ralf Schimmer, Head of Information at the MPDL seems to think it is a good deal. It’s certainly a good deal for Nature Publishing Group, but to anyone else it’s yet another egregious example of profiteering by the academic journal industry. The Academic Journal Racket strikes again!

Why is that so many academics and learned societies fail to see the extent to which they are being ripped off by these publishers? The only explanation I can think of is that it is the same reason why some people pay to produce vanity publications…

## New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2020 by telescoper

Time to announce another new paper in the Open Journal of Astrophysics. The latest publication is by Amy Louca and Elena Sellentin, both of the Sterrewacht Leiden in the The Netherlands, and is entitled The impact of signal-to-noise, redshift, and angular range on the bias of weak lensing 2-point functions. This is another one for the Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics folder.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay:

You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

We actually published this one a few days ago but there was a slight delay registering the metadata and also I was very busy, so this post is a little late. With this paper, we have published as many papers so far in 2020 as we did in 2019 so with several more in the pipeline this looks like being our busiest year

## Arguing the Case for Preprints

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , , on September 23, 2020 by telescoper

This is Peer Review Week 2020 as part of which I am participating tomorrow afternoon (Irish Time) in a live panel discussion/webinar called Increasing transparency and trust in preprints: Steps journals can take.

Working in a field like astrophysics, where the use of preprints as a means of disseminating information and ideas is well established, I’m always surprised that some people working in other disciplines don’t really approve of them at all. See for example, this Twitter thread. Still, even in the biosciences, preprints have their advocates and there are signs that attitudes may be changing.

That is not to say that things aren’t changing in astrophysics too. One of the interesting astronomical curiosities I’ve acquired over the years is a preprint of the classic work of Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler and Hoyle in 1957 (a paper usually referred to as B2FH after the initials of its authors). It’s such an important contribution, in fact, that it has its own wikipedia page.

Younger readers will probably not realize that preprints were not always produced in the electronic form they are today. We all used to make large numbers of these and post them at great expense to (potentially) interested colleagues before publication in order to get comments. That was extremely useful because a paper could take over a year to be published after being refereed for a journal: that’s too long a timescale when a PhD or PDRA position is only a few years in duration. The first papers I was given to read as a new graduate student in 1985 were all preprints that were not published until well into the following year. In some cases I had more or less figured out what they were about by the time they appeared in a journal!

The B2FH paper was published in 1957 but the practice of circulating preprints persisted well into the 1990s. Usually these were produced by institutions with a distinctive design, logo, etc which gave them a professional look, which made it easier to distinguish `serious’ papers from crank material (which was also in circulation). This also suggested that some internal refereeing inside an institution had taken place before an “official” preprint was produced and this lending it an air of trustworthiness. Smaller institutions couldn’t afford all this, so were somewhat excluded from the preprint business.

With the arrival of the arXiv the practice of circulating hard copies of preprints in astrophysics gradually died out, to be replaced by ever-increasing numbers of electronic articles. The arXiv does have some gatekeeping – in the sense there are some controls on who can deposit a preprint there – but it is far easier to circulate a preprint now than it was.

It is still the case that big institutions and collaborations insist on quite strict internal refereeing before publishing a preprint – and some even insist on waiting for a paper to be accepted by a journal before adding it to the arXiv – but there’s no denying that among the wheat there is quite a lot of chaff, some of which attracts media coverage that it does not deserve. It must be admittted, however, that the same can be said of some papers that have passed peer review and appeared in high-profile journals! No system that is operated by human beings will ever be flawless, and peer review is no different.

Nowadays, in astrophysics, the single most important point of access to scientific literature is through the arXiv, which is why the Open Journal of Astrophysics was set up as an overlay journal to provide a level of rigorous peer review for preprints, not only to provide a sort of quality mark but also to improve the paper through the editorial process.

As for increasing transparency and trust in preprints, I think I’ll save some suggestions for tomorrow’s webinar. A good start, however, would be for journals to admit their own limitations and start helping rather than hindering the dissemination of information and ideas.

## New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2020 by telescoper

A day may come when I don’t write a blog post every time we publish a new paper in the Open Journal of Astrophysics, but it is not this day…

Today’s new publication is by Liliya Williams (of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) and David Zegeye of the University of Chicago and is entitled Two-component mass models of the lensing galaxy in the quadruply imaged supernova iPTF16geu.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay:

You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so.

Incidentally, you may notice that Scholastica have added MathJax to the platform to render mathematical expressions in the abstract.

You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

## New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2020 by telescoper

Another new paper  has been published in the Open Journal of Astrophysics! This is another for the folder marked Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics and is entitled Low-scatter galaxy cluster mass proxies for the eROSITA all-sky survey.

The authors of this paper are Dominique Eckert of the University of Geneva, Alexis Finoguenov (Helsinki), Vittorio Ghirardini (MPE Garching), Sebastian Grandis (LMU), Florian Käfer (MPE Garching), Jeremy Sanders (MPE Garching) and Miriam Ramos-Ceja (MPE Garching).

For those of you unfamiliar with eROSITA, it is an X-ray instrument that was built at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, where several of the authors work.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay:

You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so.

You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

## The Open Journal at INAM

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on September 2, 2020 by telescoper

This afternoon I took part in a panel discussion on Academic Writing and Publishing that was held as part of this year’s Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM2020). For reasons related to Covid-19 this years meeting is all online so the panel was virtual. Each of the three panellists gave short (10 minute) presentations and then there was a discussion. My contribution was mainly about the Open Journal of Astrophysics but I also included some comments about academic writing generally.

Anyway, in the interest of Open Access here are the few slides I used. Many of you will have seen some or all of them before, but here they are anyway:

## New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Maynooth, Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2020 by telescoper

So another new paper has been published in the Open Journal of Astrophysics! This one is in the folder marked Astrophysics of Galaxies and is entitled Massive Star Formation in Metal-Enriched Haloes at High Redshift. I should explain that “Metal” here is the astrophysicist’s definition which basically means anything heavier than hydrogen or helium: chemists may look away now.

The authors of this paper are John Regan (of the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University), Zoltán Haiman (Columbia), John Wise (Georgia Tech), Brian O’Shea (Michigan State) and Michael Norman (UCSD). And before anyone asks, no I don’t force members of staff in my Department to submit papers to the Open Journal of Astrophysics and yes I did stand aside from the Editorial process because of the institutional conflict.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay:

You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so.

You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

## New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on August 4, 2020 by telescoper

Another new paper has been published in the Open Journal of Astrophysics! This one was actually published last Friday but it being the Bank Holiday weekend I just got round to blogging about it today. This is another one for the Cosmology and NonGalactic Astrophysics section. It’s called Cosmic event horizons and the light-speed limit for relative radial motion and is a sort of pedagogical review of the subject aimed at dispelling some common misconceptions about radial velocities and horizons. The author is Markus Pössel of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at Heidelberg.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay:

I’ve taken the liberty of adding the background teaser image in full here, as it is rather groovy:

You can click on the image to make it larger.

You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

## The Open Journal of Astrophysics is now in the Directory of Open Access Journals!

Posted in Open Access with tags , , on July 28, 2020 by telescoper

One of the things I did during the recent Covid-19 campus closure was to complete an application for the Open Journal of Astrophysics to be indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOJA).

I did apply late last year but there was an issue with the registration of the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) which had not been done correctly when it was issued by the National Library of Ireland. That was easily fixed but DOAJ requires unsuccessful applicants to wait six months before applying again.

Getting listed on DOAJ is by no means trivial. The criteria are rather strict and the application form rather lengthy. All of which means that I was delighted to learn today that my application was successful this time, and we’re now listed.

To prove it here is our entry:

Apart from the intrinsic usefulness of being indexed, being listed on DOAJ is one of the criteria for being an acceptable Open Access publisher for some funding agencies, including those who have signed up for Plan S.

I also imagine that our being on DOAJ might convince new authors to submit to us!

All I have to do now is figure out how to add our papers and metadata to the DOAJ and find the time to do it.

P. S. The Directory of Open Access Journals also has a WordPress blog which you can find here!