[FoRK] PeerJ, A New Open Access Megajournal Launches

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Feb 13 14:21:31 PST 2013

----- Forwarded message from Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com> -----

From: Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 12:49:55 -0600
To: science-liberation-front at googlegroups.com,
	diybio <diybio at googlegroups.com>,
	open-science <open-science at lists.okfn.org>,
	Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com>,
	Transhuman Tech <tt at postbiota.org>
Subject: Re: PeerJ, A New Open Access Megajournal Launches
Reply-To: science-liberation-front at googlegroups.com

On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

Pete also presented at Startup Science 2012,



PeerJ Pete Binfield

I we can set a goal, to sequence the human genome for $99, then why not the
same for academic publishing? It just launched this week and we are
fortunate to hear the inside scoop of a very ambitious new model.

We launched on Tuesday. The people behind it are myself, the one journal to
rule the world was justm entioned and I used to run PLOS One, and it
actually is the one journal to rule the world. It's going to publish about
3% this year, about 25,000 articles. I left four weeks ago to do this. My
co-founder is Jason from Mendeley. He left back in December. We've been
working on this for about 6 months. It was originally his concept.

So uh. I thought I'd give you a quick overview about what academic
publishing. Not everyone is knee-deep. This is our original pitch deck to
VCs. Academic researchers have an obligation to publish in order to advance
their careers. The scholarly journal market is dominated by subscription
publishers that charge thousands of dollars for an annual subscription, and
you have to hand over the copyright and content to the publishers. So it's
artificially restricted. That's a $10 billion/year industry and highly
profitable. It's subsidized by the free labor of the academics that write
for free, they review for free and so on.

The interesting development in thelast 10 years has been open access whih
is about 10 years old now. It wants to distribute content freely without
restrictions, like with Creative Commons. The model is that the author pays
and the author pays the processing charge. Thsi is typically in the range
of $1300-$5000 per article they publish. This pays publication costs.

What is open access? In the journal world it's a distribution model, not a
business model. The author pays thing is not the concept of open access.
Open access is usually licensed under CC. The broadest definitino is CC-BY
3.0. Although some publishers try to add a NC term to it. This is the gold
standard of open access licensing to appyl. If you apply that license, your
content can be reused, remixed and redistributed for free provided that you
acknowledge the original service.

Commercial products and applications can be built on top of OA content,
provided that you have not applied the NC subterm. Anyone can repackage and
sell it off. We want to encourage more of that because it hasn't been
happening in the OA world. OA is rapidly disrupting the established
subscription model.

OA honestly improves accelerates and facilitates academic progress. It's a
good thing in the world and the world deserves its academic content to be
published like that, how can you build a business model like this and how d
oyou persuade the world? OA is disruptive. This is a recentp aper that is
trying to predict the disruption curve of OA. It's about 15% of the world'
scontent right now. This study predicts that by 2017 that about 50% of all
scholarly articles will be OA. By 2019 it might be 90%. They did this by
extrapolating the Christenson disruption curve. The speed of which.. has
been growing.. PLOS One has been dubling in size, 3% this month but next
month might be 5%. If you roll that out over OA in general, I wouldn't be
surprised that within 5 or 8 years that we will have complete disruption of
the publishing industry.

This is the curve for PLOS One through the end of 2011. It's publishing a
pheneomonal amount, about 2k articles/month and that's growing each month.

So what is PeerJ? We are a new OA publisher, we are publisher of an
academic journal that looks a lot like PLOS ONe. It's PeerJ. We have a
preprint server called PeerJ Preprint, and teh two work together. Authors
can submit to the preprint server, or others can submit directly to the
jounral. The two are tightly integrated. The most interesting thing is
that.. I mentioned that the standard business model is that authors pay for
publishing each time, and that payment of $1300-$5000.. we are shifting
that model so that you don't pay to publicize, you pay to become a member
of PeerJ, you subscribe and by being a member you get lifetime rights to
publish future papers with us for free. It's a very different psychological

How do you incentivze peer review? There are some innovations there as
well. In order to remain a member in good standing, you must review once
per year, it can be a peer review, it can be a comment on an article. We
want to encourage the community to contribute to the community. The end
result is that everything is OA under a CC license.

I thought that this would be interesting, this is straight off of our
website. These are the guiding principles that we are building PeerJ from.
We are an innovative company that serves the academic community that
attetmps to drive costs down. Literally we believe that we are going to
take the best features of traditional publishing worlds, all the
traditional benefits around archiving, peer review, versions of records, we
are going to marry that up to modern internet technology to improve that
process. We are a service industry for academia. WE serve academia and not
the other way around. THis is what's needed to get the company off the
ground. We want the prices to get down and lower.

What are the prices? We launched on Tuesday, if you become a basic member,
that's $99 and that's a lifetime right to publish one paper a year with the
journal. That remains to be seen. I think, we're pretty confident. Enhanced
is $199 and that's 2 papers/year. The $300 is the right to publish an
unlimited number of papers per year. You can upgrade at any point, the
catch is that all contributory authors have to be a member. Each of the
authors on the paper have to be a member in good standing. So all their
future papers are free. There is also this requirement to do a review every
year per member.

Some of the interesting things is that all of our content is CC-BY. We will
make a sfotware platform for peer review, we have Public APIs, we are going
to open source a bunch of our stuff, and it will be a cultur eof
innovation. Anyone that wants to build tools to interoperate with
ourselves, we'd love to talk with you. We launched on Tuesday, and this is
the great reception we got. We got great media coverage, we lined up
interviews in Science Magazine, Times Magazine, Nature, we got started with
an overwhelmigly positive response. There are some doubters coming out of
the woodworks but in general everyone has been very positive.

The award for the best headline is that: New OA Journal Lets Scientists
Publish Until They Perish. That's PeerJ. Thank you.

So about oA in general? What can we do to promote it? When I talk about the
startup science community, everyone loves OA. But when I talk with people
in the academic community, I get shoulder shrugging because they don't
understand what the world is missing out on. We have to engage the academic
community and they are the oens doing editing and writing. How can we
actually get the academic community to understand the importance of this

There are many reasons for why the academics aren't embracing OA. One of
the ways that this community in this room could help to accelerate this
movement. The OA community believes that OA content is better, that it is
going to improve the dissemination of the content, that it will facilitate
faster discoveries.. the problem so far is that we haven't proven that
point, we haven't built killer apps or groundbreaking discoveries based on
OA content. There have been some smallish examples but nothing
earth-shattering. Perhaps that is because we are only getting 15% of the
content. But some killer app that took OA content and made it much more
valuable to the world and much better, then academics would see why they
should publish in OA in the first place.

I have a bunch of questions, but to save time, I'll pick one. One thing
that I am curious about is do you have a ranking system, a way to filter
out, I'm not goign to say that there's going to be drivvel, I think the
accountability system will deincentivize that.. clearly I have a certain
set of keywords I want. Is there a filtering system to bring the relevant
and most credible papers, the papers with the hgihest reviews post

Yes, there is. We won't necessarily have a proprietary secret sauce
algorithm, but we will use something else. The metrics movement is
attempting to solve this problem for us. They are coming up with
alternative metrics around who tweeted about it, who wrote about it, etc.
We are going to be building that into the system, expect to see the
metrics, to see what filters out good and bad or what's relevant, etc.

First of all, thank you. This is a really great model. I'm not sure what it
looks like as a business, but as a service it seems really awesome. I
appreciate it. I like how it incentives longevity, so that's pretty great.
So what does it look like as a business? How many new grad students every

There are 10M publishing academics. The way it breaks up is that there's
25k journals that publish 1.5M articles per year in academia. STM is about
1M articles per year. They are being published by about 10M practicing
academics worldwide. So the audience is possibly 10M and lots of grad
students come in and out, and that's hard to find out. I would say about
500k come in each year, and 500k drop out each year, it's about that order
of magnitude.

There is some secondary other alternatives around this. Down the line there
would be advertising on the site, yes. But the primary business model is
the subscription or membership.

Is there any worry or thought about making sure that the people are who
they say they are on their system? Is that a problem? Do you think it
matters? Like author identifiation, not having more than one account or

Every member who is going to do anything significant will be a publishing
author of some sort. There are industry requirements, like the Requirements
for Authorship, you have to contribute to the paper, you have to be cited,
yo uhave to verify that you are happy to be a coauthor on the paper. We
will also be using unique author identifiers, as an industry initiative
called Orchid, they will have their beta in September, and that's an
industry-wide adopted initiative to give every academic a unique identifier
and to track their progress centrally.

One of these problems is that it's a walled-garden where you create an
artificial garden, a wall, the price point to enter the system. Walled
gardens are very similar to the way in which previous journals and their
peer reviewed networks have become stalled in their time. The advantage of
one that doesn't have a walled garden which doesn't have such an initial
requirement, like the pervious gentleman's discussion, is that it allows
for more chaos, but which is why you need stronger means of authenticating
individuals, like the previous gentleman at the mic suggested. How do you
avoid with your walled garden approach at PeerJ, running into the same
problem with peer review where it calcifies again where it becomes
non-transparent because the incentives to maintain the walled garden, where
it becomes difficult to penetrate the .. for judging the way they do?

So potentially, I might have misunderstood.. allr eviewers on the paper do
not need to be members of the company as it were. Peer review will be
sourced from anywhere. It will not be members only reviewing on members.
The peer review will be independent. They can find peer reviewers from
anywhere in the world.

It's still a walled garden because the people who invite the peer reviewers
can have an agreement with thsoe one. Here's the same issue.. it doesn't
matter if it's interactive or this what you're trying to build.. there's an
incentivize or revenue incentive to make it less transparent because
embarrassment to really cover it up.

We are going to be encouraging open peer review, and we want people to
publically provide their names. The authors will give the option to publish
the whole peer review history. So they will be able to publish their peer
review comments as well. Those will be published along side the paper to
make it more transparent. But it's an option.

With an open system, you have to have all of the leemnts open to have it
work. If you have hidden systems, then that selectively biases the outcome
or the appearance of each.. I'm trying to illuminate this with the
difference between closed/open systems.. .t his is a delimma in how we
maintain the authentic nature of feedback mechanism. That is how the
scientists trusts the nature o their quality o their peer review. It gets
back to the problem.

I think we are more open than the typical journal. Most of those peer
reviews are never published. It's a problem with academia in general.

Did you say you had a proprietary model of rating the journals? Yes, we
have a custom software system for peer review. Why is that internal
proprietary system? We want to open source it, we will open source a lot of
our software, but we're not sure how much will be open soruce. We have to
buidl it for our own purposes, so that we can control the process to build
it out the doors, down the line it's potentially open source sure.

Pretend that this is the last century.. is the mechanism that you are
building is also going to be a publication for Thomas Edison, Gregor Mendel
or citizen scientists? Perhaps not Edison... but sure, you don't have to be
credentialed to publish papers. PLOS One will publish high school student
papers and undergrads, as long as it deserves to be published, so yeah. But
what about the peer reviewers? We will definitely be enforcing some

Based upon your expeeriences iwth PLOS One, there are many textual searches
instead of human curration to determine biological entwroks/ Are there any
kind of comparison study that has been done on using only open source or
open access literature, as the basis for definition versus the traditional
sources? It would be interesting to see teh quality metric.

There is an expert on this. Hedler in the corner is an expert in data
mining and published papers. I think part of the issue is that the
proportion of OA literature is always including some closed access stuff.
Hedler will know whether there are some studies like that.

So, as a scientist, I know that, frequently people pubilsh and cross the
line of very low impact work because they can't publish it anywhere else.
How are you going to balance the reputation, like.. is it your goal to make
this a high impact journal?

No, it's meant to be very PLOS One like. It will accept anything that is
acceptable and deserves to join the literature. It can be papers about
failures. PLOS One is not a dumping ground for the bad stuff.. it's about
everything. It's not ust about the impact factor. But the average impact
factor is greatr than 90% of the journals in the world already. On average
the content is not awful. It's actually just fine. They found that 75% of
all authors went to PLOS One as their first choice. It wasn't down the
chain of their rejections. We want the world to decide what was good
enough, what was useful, etc.

What about cross genetics, higher impact session, and have tiered version
or something?

It's just the one journal to contain everything. Within that one journal,
maybe we can say here's the bestof in genetics, in comp bio, we'll be able
to do that with just a display mechanism. We don't intend to have separate
branded journals that papers get dumped into. No.


- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

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Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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