Overlay Journals -- the ultimate publication model?
Quick description (see links for more details)
- Articles are archived in open repositories.
- Authors are free to decide which version to post as preprints.
- When article is accepted, the final version is posted and permanently linked from the journal.
- The author is free to post new versions or updates, whereas the journal continues to link to the accepted version.
- The final version includes copy-editing if there is any.
The overlay model seems to best address the needs of all participants:
- Cheaper archiving done via repositories and mirrors, fast and secure content availability.
- Single final version posted to open repository, no confusion between free and published versions, easy accurate referencing to parts of the paper.
- Easy and cheap way to post an update, typos or error fixes. The journal continues to link to the official refereed version.
None of these seem to be met by traditional journals:
- Archiving is fragmented and expensive, work and staff costs are duplicated for individual journals.
- Official published version diverges from the one posted to repositories, updating to the last version is hard and discouraged by publishers only providing final PDFs, where the exact changes are not clear. Different pages, structure, section/formula numbering etc. Different look of citations.
- Updates require major work and cost, only by means of sending an Erratum. Authors are discouraged from sending too many Errata, since those appear in their publication lists and may cause reputational damage. Consequently, many errors are not fixed, readers are confused and suffer.
From description on https://www.episciences.org/:
The editorial boards of such epijournals organize peer reviewing and scientific discussion of selected or submitted preprints. Epijournals can thus be considered as “overlay journals” built above the open archives; they add value to these archives by attaching a scientific caution to the validated papers.
- Led by Jean-Pierre Demailly @demailly, Mathematicians aim to take publishers out of publishing, Nature News, 2013:
Many mathematicians — and researchers in other fields — claim that they already do most of the work involved in publishing their research. At no cost, they type up and format their own papers, post them to online servers, join journal editorial boards and review the work of their peers. By creating journals that publish links to peer-reviewed work on servers such as arXiv, Demailly says, the community could run its own publishing system. The extra expense involved would be the cost of maintaining websites and computer equipment, he says.
What is an arXiv overlay journal? It is just like an electronic journal, except that instead of a website with lots of carefully formatted articles, all you get is a list of links to preprints on the arXiv. The idea is that the parts of the publication process that academics do voluntarily — editing and refereeing — are just as they are for traditional journals, and we do without the parts that cost money, such as copy-editing and typesetting.
While in most respects it will be just like any other journal, it will be unusual in one important way: it will be purely an arXiv overlay journal. That is, rather than publishing, or even electronically hosting, papers, it will consist of a list of links to arXiv preprints. Other than that, the journal will be entirely conventional: authors will submit links to arXiv preprints, and then the editors of the journal will find referees, using their quick opinions and more detailed reports in the usual way in order to decide which papers will be accepted.
If you trust authors to do their own typesetting and copy-editing to a satisfactory standard, with the help of suggestions from referees, then the cost of running a mathematics journal can be at least two orders of magnitude lower than the cost incurred by traditional publishers.
The software for managing the refereeing process will be provided by Scholastica, an outfit that was set up a few years ago by some graduates from the University of Chicago with the aim of making it very easy to create electronic journals.
However, the look and feel of Discrete Analysis will be independent: the people at Scholastica are extremely helpful, and one of the services they provide is a web page designed to the specifications you want, with a URL that does not contain the word “scholastica”. Scholastica does charge for this service — a whopping $10 per submission.
- Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum, Nature 2016
- The Open Journal of Astrophysics, published by Maynooth Academic Publishing.
This proposed membership model initiated with proof of successful large scale traction, with massive and growing number of supporting organizaitons: