Thu 25 Jun 2015 5:11PM

Does vision science need a new open access journal (Pre-discussion for ECVP2015)

LD Lee de-Wit Public Seen by 203

This years ECVP will host a discussion on 'open access' in vision science.

ECVP discussed the problems with our current publication system in 2012, but since then, publishers continue to make excessive profits from journal subscriptions, or 'gold open access' fees.

The potential promise of 'open access' seems to have turned largely into another funding route for established publishers to profit further from the publication process. Whilst the inefficient 'subscription' model seems to have continued unaffected.

The potential for open access to improve the way we do science still remains however. In fact the recent advances in openly available software to host open access journals is rapidly improving (http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/). There are also new publishing companies that are offering much more reasonable publication fees. Journals like PeerJ charge just 99 dollars for a life time ability to publish with the journal, suggesting that the +2000/3000 dollar fees from traditional journals are a massive inflation of the actual costs.

Is it time to make use of these advances to consider setting up a new low cost open access 'Journal of Perception'?


Nick Scott-Samuel Thu 25 Jun 2015 8:48PM

I guess the difference in the long run is up to us.

One thing that might sustain a journal (and thereby prevent it being bought out by a publisher) would be to have a fairly aggressive recruitment of younger academics to the editorial board, alongside the established stars. My strong impression is that the younger someone is, the more inclined they are towards the whole open access thing. This, of course, conflicts with a desire to publish in high-impact journals at the beginning of a career...

The nice thing about this would be that it would provide a proof of concept, and perhaps encourage others to try the same thing, or steer papers away from the big publishers towards the journal.


Alex Holcombe Thu 25 Jun 2015 9:09PM

I wonder whether iPerception charges will stay the same with the new publisher, Sage? I notice it does not mention fee waivers for poor authors (unlike PLoS).

I think we need to reflect on what our priorities are for open science and publishing. One desideratum is a completely free-to-author and free-to-reader journal. But there are others, and some may entail a tradeoff between ease of getting those features and ease of having a completely free journal:

  • Typesetting. If we're happy to have authors themselves entirely format the PDF that will be published, none is needed. However I have spoken to more than one perception scientist who thinks that professional layout is super-important, the professor I am thinking of did not think that loss of professional layout was worth the exchange for free open-access! Typesetting costs money.
  • A continually upgrading publishing platform that keeps up with emerging altmetrics, ORCID linking, and whatever else is in publishing's future
  • Automatic archiving by a third party so if the journal dies, loses a host and funding, the articles will live forever. I think this is a definite requirement, and is usually accomplished via CLOCKSS. I don't know how much they charge.
  • How long are we willing to devote to this before gaining a steady stream of submissions? The more independent we are of other journals/publishers, the longer it may take to gain traction. Partly because the lack of branding will boost the skeptical thinking that this new thing may not be a goer. Authors will wait to see whether this thing will stick around.
  • Open data requirements. No journal in perception currently requires that , but such requirements are gaining traction in other fields.
  • Any other desiderata?

As I said on Facebook, my dream would be for the journal to have all the functionality and support of PeerJ, e.g. PeerJ Computer Science https://peerj.com/computer-science/ and create a PeerJ Perception. Currently it costs something like $100/paper but I hope we could bring some institutional funding and work out a deal with PeerJ to reduce that , maybe to zero in some circumstances- although seems doubtful that could be achieved or they'd agree to it. But PeerJ is doing all the right things IMO, with optionally publishing the entire review history of articles, and great technology including image setup, plus commenting and an optional publishing flow from preprint to the journal (which speeds science).

To address Marco's point, often it is the case that one may need to act locally but think globally. Or even think regionally- I'd like to see neighboring journals' editors eventually resign and join the new initative. Especially Elsevier and other outrageous profiteers, including Vision Research. That would be a very worthwhile achievement, to me.


Nick Scott-Samuel Fri 26 Jun 2015 7:25AM

All sounds good to me. I know next to nothing about PeerJ, but are you saying that we could try to achieve our aims within its framework? Obviously, that would make things a lot easier.

Fee waivers for poor authors will raise costs for the rest. And know several people who cheerfully claim poverty in order top publish for free in PLoS, even though they're sitting on top of large grants... but perhaps these are minor issues. (No idea what will happen with Perception / i-Perception.)

I'd like to see some of the Vis Res crowd jumping shop (or J Vis, for that matter), but not necessarily all of them. This is also potentially a chance to ring out the old and ring in the new as far as figureheads go. A balance between the established and the less so looks attractive to me (but perhaps there are differing opinions?).


Lee de-Wit Fri 26 Jun 2015 12:42PM

Regarding clarification on i-Perceptions costs. I've also been wondering why JoV costs so much? Why isn't that already the cheap open-access journal the field wants. Can we demand 'open accounts' from all the journals from our field? Maybe it would be a good start to email all of the major journals in our field for this information prior to our discussion at ECVP.


Marco Bertamini Fri 26 Jun 2015 12:51PM

It's interesting, i-Perception charges less than JOV even though the former is owned by a commercial company and the latter by a non-for-profit organisation. This may of course change now, and it may have to do with Pion being small. Equally frustrating is that JOV does not comply with CC-BY which here in Britain is a big deal. Even though the ESRC funds my research they refuse to pay the page charges for JOV on the ground that the open access is not CC-BY. JOV did say they were going to make changes following complains from people in the UK but nothing has changed yet.


Nick Scott-Samuel Fri 26 Jun 2015 12:54PM

JoV is an American journal. I don't think they're that interested in what anyone outside the USA thinks.

Open accounts is an idea I've floated in the past. My ideal journal is open access, open accounts, and makes no profit.


Lee de-Wit Fri 26 Jun 2015 4:04PM

Surely there are also plenty of US vision scientists who are troubled by the high cost of JOV.

It's board are also scientists, (many from outside the US!), who are also potentially troubled by this.

It is surely not the case that we cannot influence them. The question is, do enough people care, to collectively act to demand something. For example, not submitting unless JOV accounts are open. Even if only ECVPers and some people in the US did this, it would surely already have big impact.


Alex Holcombe Fri 26 Jun 2015 7:58PM

I think it's a great idea to push JoV to provide their cost accounting and loosen their copyright restrictions (they also told me when I queried it, maybe 9 months ago, that they were working on it). I believe they've said in the past that they receive a subsidy from ARVO required in spite of the large amounts they receive from we authors.

I'm guessing the main problem with loosening the copyright and publishing the costs is not the JoV people but rather ARVO. It's a very large organisation including doctors, who tend to be more hierarchical and less receptive to bottom-up input or demands. But we ought to try.


Jonas Kubilius Sat 27 Jun 2015 10:20AM

I think Alex's list of desiderata is important to discuss further. In particular, why would anybody want to publish in this new journal and what requirements does that imply? Here is at least what I think about when submitting a paper:

  • Perceived importance of journal. Good stuff will always go to the top journals and no new journal can change that in a short run. But that's okay, as the target here should be that anything at the level of JoV and Vision Research are now published with this new journal.
  • Impact factor. Hate to say this but many grants are still coupled tightly with IFs. At the very least, any new journal should have an IF (even if a very modest one) so that it's worth publishing there.
  • Who reads the journal? Part of the reason I like JoV over any other vision journal is that despite the costs, it is well-read by the community of vision researchers. In contrast, PeerJ is not read by many, so it would be a waste to publish there. But I think the situation could be easily remedied by branding, e.g. PeerJ Perception or PeerJ Vision.
  • Typesetting. Not only many people prefer professional-looking pdfs (as Alex points out), but also many researchers lack even rudimentary skills to format anything themselves. E.g., APA double-spaced Times manuscripts with figures ate the end are just not legible on screen yet many people still do this. Some journals try to solve it by providing templates, but cross-references are hard to include in Word, so this will never be a complete solution.
  • Publisher reputation. So many scam journals around make it important to be perceived as reliable.

There are of course many other things I would want to have (open access / data, easy submission, fast review etc) but in practice when submitting I just don't care about these. I'm betting most people also don't, so we don't need to address this now.

So altogether, I think PeerJ platform offers the best of the two worlds: it's modern, it's professional and it costs very little. Paying $99 or so for a lifetime subscription sounds a fair amount for the services they provide (modern publishing platform, typesetting, archiving). It's just not possible with the above requirements to have it completely free. Of course, if people were reasonable, they'd just post stuff to biorXiv, end of story. But since we're in this game of showing off, we gotta pay for now.


Lee de-Wit Mon 29 Jun 2015 2:46PM

I'm also coming to be persuaded that working via PeerJ could be the best route. Of course, we could just submit our work there already, but I'm not convinced that is ideal. Who are the editors of perception oriented research in PeerJ? Who sets the standards? I think if it were to become a standard platform for vision science we would need to have some ownership over it. But this seems to be a direction PeerJ are open to, as they have a distinct PeerJComputerScience journal. It would be good to work out what would make them interested in hosting a "PeerJPerception" journal (although honestly I'd prefer if we could just call it Journal of Perception, 'PeerJ...' sounds ood).

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