Archive for The Open Journal for Astrophysics

The Open Journal for Astrophysics Project

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , , on May 10, 2014 by telescoper

I owe many people various apologies for not posting anything for a while about the Open Journal for Astrophysics. For a start I have to admit that the call for test submissions last year was a bit premature. I should have been more patient and ensured that the system was complete before going public. I hope nobody has been too seriously inconvenienced by the ongoing delay.

The project has got stalled a bit largely because I have just had too many things to do to devote enough time to complete the final stages needed to go fully live and also one of the people helping with the project Arfon Smith moved to a new job. Arfon and Chris Lintott have posted an account of the project so far which gives a bit more detail about how we wanted to realize the project (hosted by GitHub); the code development has involved major work by Robert Simpson and Stuart Lynn in addition to Arfon and Chris.  In essence they say that the job is now about 80% complete. I would have said it was more like 75%, so the OJFA is in some sense just the OJF at the moment! Much of what remains is not actual programming stuff but administrative stuff involved with, e.g., arranging the assignement of  digital object identifiers (DOIs) and so on, all of which has been on my to-do list for several months now.

Anywhere, just to show you that the whole project isn’t just hot air here is a demonstration of the snazzy user interface which we plan to use to facilitate the online refereeing process:

However, in the spirit not only of open access publishing but also of open source programming, Arfon has made available all the codes that have been developed so far. One intention of this is that  these can be adapted  for other OJFs hence the construction of a generic website (theoj.org) as well as the hope that some folks out there might help us bright the OJFA itself to completion. Anyone out there with the requisite skills is welcome to volunteer, either through the comments box here or through the OJ repository. If we can get enough volunteers we can meet and put together a plan to bring this idea to completion at last.

Despite being forced to accept that my own workload makes it difficult for me to be as involved as I’d like to be in this project I’d still really love to get this project off the ground. I hope I can use the time freed up by no longer being a member of RAS Council to work on the OJFA. I no longer have a conflict of interest in that regard either; like many other learned societies the RAS currently makes a large fraction of its income from academic publishing!

As Arfon mentions in his piece, the recent BICEP2 episode in particular provides pretty strong motivation that we need a new concept of academic publishing. Practical difficulties may have intervened for now but the motivation for the project itself is stronger now than it has ever been.

The Open Journal for Astrophysics is Open for Test Submissions!

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on November 17, 2013 by telescoper

Just a quick announcement that we’re stepping up the testing phase of the Open Journal for Astrophysics and would really appreciate it if astrophysicists and cosmologists out there would help us out by submitting papers for us to run through our swish new refereeing system.

Just to remind you The Open Journal for Astrophysics is completely free both for submission and for access; there are no Author Processing Charges and no subscription payments. All papers will be fully peer-reviewed using a system which is, as far as I’m concerned, far better than any professional astrophysical journal currently offers. All this is provided free by members of the astrophysics community as a service to the astrophysics community.

I know that many will be nervous about submitting the results of their research to such a new venture, but I hope there will be plenty among you who agree with me that the only way we can rid ourselves of the enormous and unnecessary financial burdens placed on us by the academic publishing industry is by proving that we can do the job better by ourselves without their intervention.

The project has changed a little since I suggest the idea last year, but the submission procedure is basically that which I originally envisaged. All you have to do is submit your paper to the arXiv and let us know its reference when this has been accomplished. Our software will then pick up the arXiv posting automatically and put it into our refereeing pipeline.

In future we will have our own latex template to produce a distinctive style for papers, but this is not needed for the testing phase so feel free to use any latex style you wish for your submission.

For the time being the OJFA website and associated repositories are not publicly available, but that’s just so we can test it thoroughly before it goes fully live, probably early in the new year; at that point all the papers passing peer review during the test phase will be published. I’m really excited about the forthcoming launch which will, I hope, generate quite a lot of publicity about the whole issue of open access publishing.

If anyone has any questions about this please feel free to ask via the comments box. Also please pass this on via twitter, etc. The more, and the more varied, papers we get to handle over the next couple of months the quicker we can get on with the revolution! So what are you waiting for? Let’s have your papers!

The Open Journal for Astrophysics – Update and Request

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2013 by telescoper

I’ve been getting quite a few questions about my modest proposal The Open Journal for Astrophysics. I don’t want to give too much away before the site is revealed, but I can say that after a very positive meeting in London last week the project is right on track and will go live pretty soon for beta testing. We have an Editorial Board (names to be revealed in due course), a very nice website, a web team, and an excellent interface for editors and reviewers which, in my opinion, is far better than any offered by a “professional” journal. When the site does go live I’ll explain in more detail how it works and introduce all the people whose contributions enabled this project to get off the ground.

We are going to test everything extensively before the OJFA goes public, however, so please be patient. We will be testing the site initially using papers in a relatively restricted area of astrophysics (largely extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology), but hope to expand by the addition of other members to the Editorial Board. In anticipation of this future expansion, volunteers in areas of astrophysics outside this specialism are welcome!

That’s the update. Now time for the request. Although not essential for the initial testing phase of the project, we do think that it would benefit from a distinctive layout for the papers, which would be easily achieved by having our own Latex style. This came up in discussion some time ago when I first floated the idea of this project and somebody emailed me offering to design an appropriate Latex package. Unfortunately, however, in transit from Cardiff to here I appear to have lost the email and can’t remember who sent it. I’m therefore going to enlist the help of the blogosphere to remedy this act of incompetence. Is there anybody out there among the interwebs who is sufficiently keen and has the necessary expertise to construct a latex style for our new journal? If so please contact me, either through the comments or via email. I can’t do it myself because I have never had any sense of style…

Please pass this on via Twitter, etc.