Archive for scientific publishing

A Modest Proposal – The Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access with tags , , on July 17, 2012 by telescoper

Following on from yesterday’s piece, I thought I’d make a quick suggestion.

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.

However, yesterday’s news that many of us are probably going to have to pay up front fees to publish papers (at thousands of pounds  a pop) will no doubt have convinced many that the government’s decision is potentially ruinous for science. I think it’s time for astrophysics to lead the way again.

My suggestion is that we set up a quick-and-easy trial system to circumvent the traditional publishing route. The basic 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’m 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.

Although there are many issues to be sorted out,  a limited trial of The Open Journal of Astrophysics could I think happen very soon, perhaps even before the REF.

This idea would require community support setting it up (and doing the refereeing/administration)  and it would probably only get off the ground if sufficient senior astronomers get on board. It will no doubt also take money to get it going. However, I feel sufficiently strongly about this that I’m prepared to stump up £10k from my own pocket just to get it started.

If anyone has ideas about how to take this project forward, is willing to help with technical expertise, or if any prominent astronomers would simply like to add their name in support of the idea please do so through the comments box below.  Any further pledges of financial support would of course also be welcome.

And please pass this message on via Twitter/email/whatever, so I can gauge the level of support.

The joy of viXra

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by telescoper

From time to time on this blog I post rants about the state of scientific publishing, open access, the importance of the arXiv for astronomy and cosmology, and so on.

This morning, however, I discovered an “alternative” side to the whole business of online science, a site by the name of viXra. Most readers will probably be familiar with this site already – many no doubt publish there, in fact – but I have to say that it’s completely new to me. I urge you to check it out.

The structure and layout of viXra is almost identical to the arXiv, but the content is a bit … er … different. Naturally, I went straight for the section that mirrors astro-ph on the arXiv. The viXra version of astro-ph so far contains only 88 publications, but among them are papers of such outstanding quality that I’m sure this remarkable collection will grow very quickly when like-minded authors around the world find out about it.

I thought I’d post my favourite as an example. Initially, I was going to go with one entitled Ball Lightning, Micro Comets, Sprite-Fireballs and X-Ray/gamma Flashes According to Quantum FFF Theory, with the abstract

FUNCTION FOLLOWS FORM in Quantum FFF THEORY. The FORM and MICROSTRUCTURE of elementary particles, is supposed to be the origin of FUNCTIONAL differences between Higgs- Graviton- Photon- and Fermion particles. As a consequence, a NEW splitting, accelerating and pairing MASSLESS BLACK HOLE, able to convert vacuum energy (ZPE) into real energy by entropy decrease, seems to be able to explain quick Galaxy- and Star formation, down to Sunspots, (Micro) Comets, Lightning bolts, Sprite Fireballs and Ball Lightning.

I decided against this one, however, because of the tendency to burst inexplicably into upper case every now and again, which I found rather alarming.

I was also forced to reject this one, The Structuring Force of the Natural World, on the grounds that (a) it’s in Chinese so I can’t read it and (b) I don’t know what a “basket graph” is. Otherwise I’m sure its a splendid piece of work.

The assumption that the mass distribution of spiral galaxies is rational was suggested 11 years ago. The rationality means that on any spiral galaxy disk plane there exists a special net of orthogonal curves. The ratio of mass density at one side of a curve (from the net) to the one at the other side is constant along the curve. Such curve is called a proportion curve. Such net of curves is called an orthogonal net of proportion curves. I also suggested that the arms and rings are the disturbance to the rational structure. To achieve the minimal disturbance, the disturbing waves trace the orthogonal or non-orthogonal proportion curves. I proved 6 years ago that exponential disks and dual-handle structures are rational. Recently, I have also proved that rational structure satisfies a cubic algebraic equation. Based on these results, this paper ultimately demonstrates visually what the orthogonal net of proportion curves looks like if the superposition of a disk and dual-handle structures is still rational. That is, based on the natural solution of the equation, the rate of variance along the ‘radial’ direction of the logarithmic mass density is obtained. Its image is called the ‘basket graph’. The myth of galaxy structure will possibly be resolved based the further study of ‘basket graphs’.

In the end I decided to go for this impressive article, A Cantorian Superfluid Vortex and the Quantization of Planetary Motion

This article suggests a preliminary version of a Cantorian superfluid vortex hypothesis as a plausible model of nonlinear cosmology. Though some parts of the proposed theory resemble several elements of what have been proposed by Consoli (2000, 2002), Gibson (1999), Nottale (1996, 1997, 2001, 2002a), and Winterberg (2002b), it seems such a Cantorian superfluid vortex model instead of superfluid or vortex theory alone has never been proposed before. Implications of the proposed theory will be discussed subsequently, including prediction of some new outer planets in solar system beyond Pluto orbit. Therefore further observational data is recommended to falsify or verify these predictions. If the proposed hypothesis corresponds to the observed facts, then it could be used to solve certain unsolved problems, such as gravitation instability, clustering, vorticity and void formation in galaxies, and the distribution of planet orbits both in solar system and also exoplanets.

I’m not an expert on the “Cantorian superfluid vortex theory”, but I suspect the author may well be correct in saying that it has not previously been proposed as an explanation for the planetary orbits…

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