Archive for Open Journal of Astrophysics

Ethics Statement for the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on August 3, 2022 by telescoper

For various reasons I spent yesterday evening, the last evening of my “break”, concocting an Ethics Statement for the Open Journal of Astrophysics. I don’t know much about this sort of thing so some of the text is based on similar statements elsewhere, e.g. at the AAS Journals site. So far we haven’t had many instances of misconduct but I have had to ban a couple of authors for violations.

Anyway, you can find the statement on the OJAp website but I’ve copied it below in case anyone has suggestions of things we might wish to add. If you have any such comments please use the box below:

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  1. Ethics and Professionalism
    Authors of papers published in the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJAp) are expected to adhere to basic standards of professional ethics and conduct that are common across all areas of scholarly publishing. Because we are an arXiv overlay journal we also require adherence to the specific standards stipulated in the arXiv code of conduct of conduct. By submitting a paper authors affirm that their work is theirs, is original and has not been published elsewhere. All parties are also expected to conform to common standards of professional respect and civility. This page summarizes the expected standards of professional and ethical conduct required for OJAp.
  2. Plagiarism (including Self-Plagarism)
    Plagiarism (understood as the act of reproducing text or other materials from other papers without properly crediting the source) represents a serious ethical breach, and may constitute legal breach of copyright if the reproduced material has been previously published. This includes repeating text from previously published papers by the author or authors (i.e., “self-plagiarism”). The arXiv submission process does an initial screen for plagiarism, and we will look very carefully at submissions that have triggered the arXiv filter.
  3. Citations and References
    Articles published in OJAp should include citations to previously published articles which are directly relevant to the results being presented. This requirement is especially important when new ideas or results are being presented. Deliberate refusal to credit or cite prior or corroborating results represents a breach of professional ethics, and can result in summary rejection of a manuscript but an unintentional failure to cite a relevant article does not necessarily imply misconduct. Responsibility for updating references after acceptance (but before publication) of an article rests fully with the authors, but the same principles should apply.
  4. Conflicts of Interest
    The referees selected by the editor assume responsibility for evaluating the scientific veracity, clarity, and significance of the results presented. For such a system to function effectively it is essential that the referee be free of any conflicts of interest that might influence the content or the promptness of the review. Authors may identify individuals who they believe are conflicted and should not serve as referees. Referees also have a responsibility to recuse themselves if they feel a conflict may arise. Editors are required to disqualify themselves whenever a real or perceived conflict is present.
  5. Confidentiality
    The Editorial Board of OJAp will not reveal the identities of referees nor the contents of peer-review-related materials to individuals outside of the respective peer-review process. Referees are also bound by strict confidentiality; neither the manuscripts nor the contents of referee correspondence may be shared with other parties without written permission from the editor. Authors are not bound by similar confidentiality requirements (for example, they may choose to consult with co-authors and colleagues when revising a manuscript in response to a referee report), but public dissemination of the contents of referee reports and editorial correspondence is highly inappropriate.
  6. Professional Conduct
    All participants in the publication process, including Editors, Authors and Referees, are expected to conform to basic standards of professional courtesy, and respect the basic rules and guidelines that govern the peer-review and publication process. Authors should also recognize that all our Editors and Referees are volunteers who give their time freely; that’s part of the reason why the journal is free. Personal attacks or verbal abuse are unacceptable and OJAp reserves the right to refuse submissions from individuals who repeatedly violate these guidelines or refuse to cooperate with editors and referees in the normal peer review and publication processes.
  7. Allegations of Misconduct
    The integrity of OJAp rests on the professionalism of its authors, referees, and editors. Alleged cases of unethical conduct within the editorial process will be investigated vigorously by the Editor-in-Chief or an appropriately delegated individual or individuals and with respect for confidentiality. Accusations of misconduct falling outside of the peer review or publication process may be more properly directed elsewhere. OJAp also recognizes its obligation to protect their authors and referees against malicious, frivolous, vexatious or unfounded allegations of misconduct. Repeated complaints of this type by individuals may be summarily dismissed.

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on July 17, 2022 by telescoper

Today is ten years to the day that I wrote the blog post that first proposed setting up the Open Journal of Astrophysics. It took a bit longer than I’d expected to get it going. The prototype site opened at the end of 2015 but owing to personal issues the project didn’t get going in full until after I moved to Maynooth in 2017.

It couldn’t have happened without enormous help from Arfon Smith, Chris Lintott, Adam Becker, Robert Simpson, Stuart Lynn and Mark Rohloff so many thanks to them for assistance in getting it off the ground. I also thank the staff at Maynooth University Library, especially Fiona Morley-Clarke, for their support and assistance. I also acknowledge financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

I’d also like to thank the Editorial Team at OJAp, all unpaid volunteers, for their efforts and of course to all the authors who have trusted their research findings what was, at least at the start, an experimental venture.

Now seems an appropriate time to announce yet another new publication in the Open Journal of Astrophysics! This one, published last week, is the 10th paper in Volume 5 (2022) and the 58th in all.

The latest publication is entitled “V889 Her: abrupt changes in the magnetic field or differential rotation?” and is written by Teemu Willamo (Helsinki), Thomas Hackman (Helsinki), Jyri J. Lehtinen (Turku), Maarit Korpi-Lagg (Aalto) and Oleg Kochukhov (Uppsala). The first four of these are based in Finland and the last in Sweden.

This is another paper in the Solar and Stellar Astrophysics folder; the subject of the paper V889 Herculis is a young and very active dwarf star with some intriguing properties.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the (very short) abstract:

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 AAS goes for Gold

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2021 by telescoper

Yesterday there was a big announcement from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) , namely that all its journals will switch to Open Access from 1st January 2022. This transition will affect the Astronomical Journal (AJ), the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL), and the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (ApJS). Previously authors were able to opt for Open Access but from next year it will apply to all papers.

The positive aspect to this change is that it makes articles published by the AAS freely available to the public and other scientists without requiring the payment of a subscription.

On the other hand, these journals will require authors to pay a hefty sum, equivalent to an Article Processing Charge (APC), that increases with the length and complexity of a paper. AAS journals have in the past levied “page charges” from authors for standard (non-OA) publications. In the new regime these are merged into a unified scheme. Here is a summary of the rates.

What’s on offer is therefore a form of Gold Open Access that switches the cost of publication from subscribers to authors. In my view this level of APC is excessive, which is why I call this Fool’s Gold Open Access. Although the AAS is a not-for-profit organization, its journals are published by the Institute of Physics Publishing which is a definitely-for-profit organization.

The Open Journal of Astrophysics charges neither subscribers nor authors; this form of Open Access is usually called Diamond or Platinum Open Access.

The terminology surrounding Open Access is confusing not least because its usage is evolving. In the current jargon, “Gold” Open Access refers to publication that is free to access at the journal. The principal alternative is “Green” Open Access, which means that free access is offered through depositing the paper in some form of repository separate from the journal. Some astronomical journals allow authors to deposit their articles on arXiv, for example, which is probably the main way in which astrophysicists achieve Green Open Access.

Nowadays “Gold” Open Access refers to anything that is made available freely by a journal regardless of whether an APC is charged or not. The Diamond Open Access provided by the Open Journal of Astrophysics is thus a special case of Gold Open Access. A classification in which Diamond and Platinum are subdivisions of Gold must confuse the heck out of chemists, but that’s where we are at the moment. At least it’s not as bad as in astrophysics where the only terms used to describe chemical elements are hydrogen, helium and “metals”…

While I am glad to see the AAS move its journals into Open Access configurations, I can’t agree with the level of APC. The Open Journal of Astrophysics may be relatively small but it has plenty of capacity for growth while remaining entirely free. The more people realize that it costs tens of dollars rather than thousands to publish a paper the more likely it is that they’ll see the moral case for Diamond Open Access.

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on April 28, 2020 by telescoper

Well Maynooth University may have been closed by the Coronavirus but the The Open Journal of Astrophysics certainly has not!

In fact we have just published another paper! This one is called Discrete Chi-square Method for Detecting Many Signals and the author is Lauri Jetsu of the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Here is a grab of the overlay as it appears on my phone:

You can find the arXiv version of the paper here.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Editorial team and various referees for their efforts in keeping the Open Journal of Astrophysics going in these difficult times.

The Open Journal of Astrophysics and the Free Journals Network

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 30, 2020 by telescoper

 

I am pleased to announce that The Open Journal of Astrophysics is now a member of the Free Journal Network.

We are in fact the 51st member of the network, which exists

…to promote scholarly journals run according to the Fair Open Access model (roughly, journals that are controlled by the scholarly community, and have no financial barriers to readers and authors.

A full list of the illustrious journals belonging to this network can be found here.

 

 

Not the Open Journal of Astrophysics Impact Factor – Update

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on February 11, 2020 by telescoper

 I thought I would give an update with some bibliometric information about the 12 papers published by the Open Journal of Astrophysics in 2019. The NASA/ADS system has been struggling to tally the citations to a couple of our papers but this issue has now been resolved.  According to this source the total number of citations for these papers is 532 (as of today). This number is dominated by one particular paper which has 443 citations according to NASA/ADS. Excluding this paper gives an average number of citations for the remaining 11 of 7.4.

I’ll take this opportunity to re-iterate some comments about the Journal Impact Factor. When asked about this my usual response is (a) to repeat the arguments why the impact factor is daft and (b) point out that we have to have been running continuously for at least two years to have an official impact factor anyway.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to look up the definition of an impact factor , for a given year it is basically the sum of the citations for all papers published in the journal over the previous two-year period divided by the total number of papers published in that journal over the same period. It’s therefore the average citations per paper published in a two-year window. The impact factor for 2019 would be defined using data from 2017 and 2018, etc.

The impact factor is prone to the same issue as the simple average I quoted above in that citation statistics are generally heavily skewed  and the average can therefore be dragged upwards by a small number of papers with lots of citations (in our case just one).

I stress again we don’t have an Impact Factor as such for the Open Journal. However, for reference (but obviously not comparison) the latest actual impact factors (2018, i.e. based on 2016 and 2017 numbers) for some leading astronomy journals are: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 5.23; Astrophysical Journal 5.58; and Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.21.

My main point, though, is that with so much bibliometric information available at the article level there is no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to crudely aggregated statistics at the journal level. Judge the contents, not the packaging.

This post is based on an article at the OJA blog.

 

 

Not the Open Journal of Astrophysics Impact Factor – Update

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on January 20, 2020 by telescoper

Now that we have started a new year, and a new volume of the Open Journal of Astrophysics , I thought I would give an update with some bibliometric information about the 12 papers we published in 2019.

It is still early days for aggregating citations for 2019 but, using a combination of the NASA/ADS system and the Inspire-HEP, I have been able to place a firm lower limit on the total number of citations so far for those papers of 408, giving an average citation rate per paper of 34.

These numbers are dominated by one particular paper which has 327 citations according to Inspire (see above). Excluding this paper gives an average number of citations for the remaining 11 of 7.4.

I’ll take this opportunity to re-iterate some comments about the Journal Impact Factor. When asked about this my usual response is (a) to repeat the arguments why the impact factor is daft and (b) point out that we have to have been running continuously for at least two years to have an official impact factor anyway.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to look up the definition of an impact factor , for a given year it is basically the sum of the citations for all papers published in the journal over the previous two-year period divided by the total number of papers published in that journal over the same period. It’s therefore the average citations per paper published in a two-year window. The impact factor for 2019 would be defined using data from 2017 and 2018, etc.

The impact factor is prone to the same issue as the simple average I quoted above in that citation statistics are generally heavily skewed and the average can therefore be dragged upwards by a small number of papers with lots of citations (in our case just one).

I stress again we don’t have an Impact Factor for the Open Journal. However, for reference (but obviously not direct comparison) the latest actual impact factors (2018, i.e. based on 2016 and 2017 numbers) for some leading astronomy journals are: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 5.23; Astrophysical Journal 5.58; and Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.21.

My main point, though, is that with so much bibliometric information available at the article level there is no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to crudely aggregated statistics at the journal level. Judge the contents, not the packaging.

 

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on March 13, 2019 by telescoper

It’s nice to be able to announce that the Open Journal of Astrophysics has just published another paper. Here it is!

It’s by Pauline Barmby of the University of Western Ontario. You can find the accepted version on the arXiv here.

I think this paper is a good demonstration of the broad remit of the Open Journal of Astrophysics: our only rule is that if it’s suitable for the astro-ph section of the arXiv then we will consider if for publication. Rather than being a hardcore research paper, this is comprehensive and pedagogical review of observational techniques, instrumentation and data analysis in astronomy for use by researchers and educators in other disciplines, which we feel is a very useful addition to the literature

My thanks to the Editor and referees for dealing with this one so efficiently! We even have a Twitter testimonial from the author:

We have more publications in the pipeline but would be more than happy to receive more…!
I hope soon to get to the point where we have so many papers I can’t write a blog post about every one!

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2019 by telescoper

It’s nice to be able to announce that the Open Journal of Astrophysics has just published another paper. Here it is!

It’s by Ben Maughan of the University of Bristol (UK) and Thomas Reiprich of the University of Bonn (Germany). You can find the accepted version on the arXiv here.

This is the first paper we have published in the section called High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena.

Thanks to the Editor and referees for dealing with this one so efficiently!

We have a few other papers coming up for publication soon, and some have been sent back to authors for revise and resubmit so we will almost certainly have further announcements to make soon.

 

P.S. Nobody spotted that I put the wrong DOI on the front page. I did that deliberately to see who was paying attention. Anyway, I’ve now put the right one on.

The future of journal publishing here today – Guest Post by Syksy Räsänen

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , , on February 8, 2019 by telescoper

You may recall that the Open Journal of Astrophysics recently published a paper by Syksy Räsänen of the University of Helsinki. I invited Syksy to write a blog post on the Open Journal for Astrophysics about why he chose to publish with us, and I’m delighted to say that his post is now available there and, with the author’s permission, I am reproducing it below on this blog. It’s also available at Syksy’s own blog . It’s quite a long post, but there is some very interesting information in it, which will probably surprise you!

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The bad news:: the scientific community can no longer afford commercial science journals.

The good news: the scientific community no longer needs commercial science journals.

The bottom line: open internet archives and overlay journals are the solution.

Scientific journal publishing is in crisis. Already 25 years ago librarians referred to the rising costs of journals as a “doomsday machine”. In 2012, Harvard University Library announced that it can no longer afford scientific journals, warning that publishers had created a “fiscally unsustainable” situation. The library took the unprecedented step of asking faculty to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls.

In its 2015 Open Access Policy White Paper, the Max Planck Digital Library assessed the annual revenue of scientific journal publishing as 7.6 billion euros. Divided by an estimated 1.5-2.0 million published articles, they arrived at a cost of €3800 to €5000 per article. The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers has estimated $10 billion in revenue and 2.5 million articles annually, which gives €3500 per article. According to them, 68-75% of the costs are borne by academic libraries.

These are enormous sums, funnelled from science to the pockets of large corporations. (Some journals are published by scientific societies, but this doesn’t change the overall picture.)

To put the numbers in perspective, the total construction cost of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN –the largest scientific experiment in the history of humanity–was around 5 billion euros, or 500 million euros per year. The cost of science publishing would cover the construction of 10 to 20 top-of-the-line successor experiments to the LHC. It is equivalent to the salaries and overheads of 150,000 to 200,000 postdoctoral researchers per year. This is likely more than the combined number of postdocs in the United States and the European Union.

Scientific publishing is a strange business. Scientists carry out research for free, write it up for free, give the article to the publisher for free, manage the peer review process as editors (some editors get paid), do peer-review for the publisher for free – and then the scientists’ institutions pay the publisher so that they can read the articles. In some cases scientists even pay the publisher to have their articles published. (Here “free” simply means the scientists are not paid by the publisher, but rather by their university or research institute – in the end, mostly by taxpayers.)

Is there any other industry where corporations pay nothing for the raw materials, have negligible processing costs and enjoy a captive market that automatically buys everything they produce? This setup leads to record profits. For example, the profit margin of Elsevier’s Scientific, Technical & Medical publishing division in the years 1991-2013 was consistently over 30%, and in 2013 it was 39%. For comparison, in the same year Apple, Google and Microsoft had profit margins of 22%, 20% and 28%, respectively. No wonder Robert Maxwell, a pioneer of scientific journal publishing, described the business as a “perpetual financing machine”.

In the past, publishers at least had the expenses of printing and shipping journals. With the internet, this cost has disappeared for many journals. However, prices have not come down – quite the opposite. Thankfully, the same technological advances that have made commercial journals so profitable have also rendered them unnecessary.

Journals used to be needed for registering and communicating research, for archiving it (via paper journals in libraries), and for performing quality control via peer review. In cosmology and particle physics, the first three services have been provided by the internet archive arXiv since 1991. Depositing articles to arXiv is free, and they can be read for free in perpetuity. In 2018, 140,616 articles appeared on arXiv, and its estimated total expenditures were $1,915,997, or 12€ per article. Other disciplines, such as economics and biology, have followed suit, either starting new categories on arXiv or setting up their own archives such as bioRxiv. There is no reason why this model cannot be extended to all fields of science.

A lot of discussion around the cost of journals centred on open access, so it is important to emphasise one thing: the issue is not open access. That problem has been solved by arXiv 27 years ago. The question is how to organise peer review in a cost-effective manner. This is where overlay journals come in.

The idea of overlay journals is simple: they are journals that concentrate on the only thing journals are needed for anymore, namely peer review. As articles appear on arXiv (or other online archives) anyway, there is no need to duplicate their work. An overlay journal has a website where papers (typically already available on arXiv) can be submitted. Peer review is conducted as usual, and in case of acceptance, the final version of the paper is updated on arXiv, with a journal reference and DOI link to the journal website.

Custom toolkits for overlay journals have been designed for more than 10 years, for example in the astrophysics RIOJA project. These days the necessary software is also available off the shelf from Scholastica. The service costs $99 per month plus $10 per submitted article, and getting a DOI from Crossref costs $1 per published article. As in the case of arXiv, the costs scale well with the number of papers. If a journal publishes 100 articles annually and has a 2/3 rejection rate, the cost works out to €38 per article – about 100 times less than the sum currently paid for article publishing.

Given that open archives and overlay journals could save 7 to 9 billion euros every year, why haven’t they already replaced commercial journals?

Unfortunately, the existence of a more optimal configuration does not automatically lead the community to shift there. Instead, people respond to individual incentives, and scientists are no exception. The publishing peer Robert Maxwell noted that “scientists are not as price-conscious as other professionals, mainly because they are not spending their own money”. As journal fees are paid centrally, there is little motivation for an individual researcher to change their publication pattern. Established journals are seen to provide a quality stamp that is necessary in the competition over positions and grants. Also, founding an overlay journal requires an investment of time that does not necessarily yieldproportionate professional rewards.

So researchers as individuals have rational reasons for not changing the system. What about libraries and scientific consortia that are struggling to bring the costs down? Unfortunately, institutional efforts have often concentrated on the narrow problem of getting journals to accept payment from the author rather than the reader (i.e. open access). However, the main issue is not whether the money is paid by the author or the reader (or rather their institutions), but what they are paying for.

Thus, for example, the SCOAP3 consortium has become part of the problem by providing life support to commercial journals. It has arranged to pay publishers vast amounts of money, entirely incommensurate with the actual costs, to make articles open access, guaranteeing them a steady stream of revenue.

The open access initiative Plan S launched last September is more ambitious. Particularly noteworthy is the commitment to provide incentives to establish new open access journals and platforms. However, open archives are only “acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation”, not as publishing channels of their own right when paired with overlay journals. A lot depends on how the initiative will be implemented, but for now the scheme seems to focus on the old-fashioned aim of getting commercial publishers to convert journals to open access.

According to the Max Planck Digital Library White Paper, switching all commercial journals to an open access model would drop the cost of publication to between €1,100 and €2,000 per article. This would cut expenditures by a factor of 2 to 5, saving billions of euros every year – and continuing to waste billions of euros every year.

It is striking that the principles of Plan S contain no commitment to maximising the returns on public money and optimising financial sustainability, even though this is the heart of the matter. Instead, it supports the continuation of the commercial publishing model in co-operation with corporations, whose interests are at odds with those of the scientific community. We do not need to reform the business model of scientific journal publishing, we have to abandon it.

Open access consortia should start supporting a publishing model that begins from the needs of the scientific community and aims to fulfil them in an economical manner, while helping to make the transition as smooth as possible. This involves communicating with scientists about the costs of corporate publishing, following and expanding on Harvard’s example of calling on scientists to use the power of their labour (often given to the publishers for free) to change the situation, and providing incentives and support to establish and publish in overlay journals. Scientists, in turn, need to re-evaluate their brand loyalty to established journals, and give appropriate career merits for time spent on changing the publishing system.

Open archives and overlay journals are not a utopian solution for the future. Discrete Analysis, Open Journal of Astrophysics and others are publishing already. They are a proven model for open access publishing and quality peer review in a modern, cost-effective manner tailored to the needs of the scientific community. The sooner they become the new standard, the more money we will save for science.