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'?


Jon Peirce Tue 30 Jun 2015 4:26PM

I agree with most of the above. I'm not too worried that a bigger journal will try to buy it out if it's successful: that would be a decision to take and would just need the board to contractually protect the things that were important.

Of course, it might also be that the possibility of a new journal might get JoV (which I'm mostly very fond of) moving a bit faster in the right direction.

For a name I'd prefer "Vision" to "Perception". Although perception might be technically more accurate, I've found some people treating 'vision' with more (even unreasonable) respect. Like a 'vision' scientist would have to know maths and "clever stuff", but a perception scientist doesn't. That doesn't stop the perception scientists wanting to go there (notice the attendance at VSS). In fact it makes them feel good and validated that they were able to. I've genuinely heard people that weren't vision scientists bragging that they got their abstract into VSS and now felt bad-ass (I left them with their illusion ;-)

What's the key to being the new JoV, rather than the new i-Perception (beyond the name)? Hard to know, but my guesses are:
- clean start (i-perception was too closely associated with Perception already)
- good set of first articles - we need a few people to take a punt on it being a success
- high standards for acceptance (even if that means a low rate of papers published). The issue here might be whether good reviewers will play

Recruiting big-wigs to the board might be tricky because they either have to leave their current journal (e.g. for Johan to leave Perception/iPerception would be quite a statement that he might not want to make?) or they've decided by now they don't want to be editors. Again, that's just a guess

I also didn't know much about PeerJ but apparently my uni has already paid an institutional fee that means my submissions would be totally free! Happy days!

best wishes all


Susana Martinez-Conde Tue 30 Jun 2015 4:44PM

I published a few perception-related papers in PeerJ, and I'm also an editor there, as is Stephen Macknik. I thought the journal did a great job. They just announced their first (partial) impact factor, which is presently above 2 (not bad considering it is such a new publication model).


Jonas Kubilius Tue 30 Jun 2015 5:23PM

In terms of editorial board, it's not hard to come up with at least a few well-known people (though maybe not exactly big shots yet) who have expressed clear support towards Open Science and might be interested in this initiative, e.g., Hans Op de Beeck, Nikos Kriegeskorte, Chris Baker.


Stephen Louis Macknik Tue 30 Jun 2015 5:52PM

I agree that a PeerJ journal would be good because its not just open access (which generally does not solve the issue of huge profits for publsihers) its also open publishing (a relatively painless annual subscription covers the cost and so this does solve the financial problem).


Bruce Bridgeman Tue 30 Jun 2015 7:15PM

I have some general concerns with the open-access model. In conventional publishing, the publisher makes money when journal issues, or today mostly downloads, are sold. It's in the publisher's interest to have high-quality content, and to maintain it. In the open-access model all the money is made up front. The publisher has no financial interest in quality or in maintaining the database. What will be retained in 5 or 10 years?

Conflict of interest disclaimer: I am editor-in-chief of a journal that accepts both conventional and open-access papers.


Lee de-Wit Tue 30 Jun 2015 7:46PM

I think this is a valid concern @brucebridgeman but I think the key has to be that we can ensure standards are maintained because we can decide where we submit our work. If a publisher gets a reputation for lowering standards, or designing the peer review process to ensure as much as possible is accepted, we can stop submitting to that publisher (as many have decided to do with Frontiers). For me this is about the academic community taking control of the type of publishing we want to see, and making it clear that we will only submit to journals that maintain high standards (and offer value for money). If we only submit to OA journals that maintain high-quality content and maintain it well - they have the same financial incentives as subscription based publishers.


Bruce Bridgeman Wed 1 Jul 2015 3:27AM

Lee, good points. Journals like the Journal of Vision can maintain a reputation because they are run by academics who have an interest in quality. The Journal of Eye Movement Research has another model, open access but without a publishing fee. It is supported by a modest Swiss grant, and authors format their own papers from formatting software the journal provides.

So experienced scholars can reward the quality open-access journals. Another concern is with those less well connected - from countries not in the academic mainstream, or from young scholars at institutions without experienced scholars in their fields. They will have a hard time separating the quality open-access journals from the junk journals. Several times per week I get a solicitation from an open-access journal I've never heard of, with an important-sounding name - I'm sure you've had the same.


Bruce Bridgeman
Editor-in-chief, Consciousness and Cognition
Edward A. Dickson 2013 Professor of Psychology
University of California, Santa Cruz
106 Social Sciences 2 Tel. (831) 459 4005
Santa Cruz, Ca. 95064 Fax (831) 459 3519
http://people.ucsc.edu/~bruceb/ ( http://people.ucsc.edu/~bruceb/ )


Michael Spratling Wed 1 Jul 2015 8:42AM

The only journal I am aware of that is truly open access (i.e. free to publish
in, and free to read) is the Journal of Machine Learning Research
(http://www.jmlr.org/). It would be great to have something similar for Vision
Science. JMLR has been very successful in attracting high quality submissions and has a very good impact factor. I suspect that this was achieved by it being set up by many of the top people in the field, via a high profile mass defection of almost the entire editorial board from (the Springer journal) Machine Learning. JMLR gets around the issue of typesetting by requiring all authors to submit their work in Latex. This might be more of an impediment in vision research than machine learning. However, this impediment would also exist if we used PeerJ which also seems to require submissions in Latex (or via overleaf which is just a front end to Latex).


Alex Holcombe Wed 1 Jul 2015 8:47AM

PeerJ does not require LateX submission. Pdf and Word are fine.


Marco Bertamini Wed 1 Jul 2015 8:51AM

For a somewhat more radical view.

Open access with authors' fees reverses the economics: before a publisher had a cost to accept a paper now it has a cost in rejecting a paper. To expect that this would not create problems as long as editor/reviewers do their work is naive. The money pressure will find its way into the system and that is what has happened with some recent well-publicised cases (Frontiers). It is actually a triple whammy because, in addition to the reduced quality control, the inflation in number of publications is also a problem as it becomes impossible to read/browse this mountain of papers, and because the author's fee means poor authors/institutions have a disadvantage. The solution was something that everybody could have seen in advance: Keep the publishing of journals in the hands of Academic Institutions and without author's fees. The fact that there is a cost in accepting a paper has a positive side effect, as it forces journals to be selective. Libraries should have led the way on this, they are the ones that benefit most from open access, they have the staff, and they are located next to the academics who do all the work. I fear it may all be too late, once a system develops with so many people milking it for profit it may be hard to reverse the process. But scientists and academic societies could do something if they want, because the actual process of publication online is simple and with very low marginal costs.

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