Good news from the good guys

The very recent post of Gowers “Why I’ve also joined the good guys” is good news! It is about a platform for “epijournals”, or in common (broken, in my case) English means a system of peer-reviewing arxiv articles.

UPDATE: For epijournals see and also the blog post  Episciences: de quoi s’agit-il?.

If you have seen previous posts here on this subject, then you imagine I am very excited about this! I  posted immediately a comment, is awaiting moderation just appeared, so here is it for the posterity:

Congratulations, let’s hope that it will work (however I don’t understand the secrecy behind the idea). For some time I try to push an idea which emerged from several discussions, described here  Peer-review turned on its head has market value(also see Peer-review is Cinderella’s lost shoe )  with very valuable contributions from readers, showing that the model may be viable, as a sort of relative of the pico-publication idea.

Secrecy (if there is one or I am just uninformed) is not a good idea, because no matter how smart is someone, there is always a smarter idea waiting to germinate in another one’s head. It is obvious that:

  • a public discussion about this new model will improve it beyond the imagination of the initiators, or it will show its weakness (if any), just like in the case of a public discussion about an encryption protocol, say. If you want the idea to stand, then discuss it publicly,
  • the model has to provide an incentive for the researchers to do peer-reviews. There are two aspects about this: 1)  the researchers are doing peer-reviews for free anyway, for the old-time journals, so maybe the publishers themselves could consider the idea to organize the peer-review process, 2) anything is possible once you persuade enough people that it’s a good idea.
  • any association between expired reflexes (like vanity publication, or counting the first few bits of articles, like ISI, for the sake of HR departments) will harm the project. In this respect see the excellent post MOOCs teach OA a lesson   by Eric Van de Velde, where it is discussed why the idea of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) had much more success in such a short time then the OA movement.

Enough for now, I am looking forward to hear more about epijournals.

UPDATE: There is no technical reason to ignore  some of the eprints which are already on arxiv. By this I mean the following question: are epijournals considering only peer-reviewing new arxiv eprints, or there is any interest of peer-reviewing existing eprints?

UPDATE 2: This comment by Benoît Régent-Kloeckner    clarifies who is the team behind epijournals. I reproduce the comment here:

I can clarify a bit the “epi-team” composition. Jean-Pierre Demailly tried to launch a similar project some years ago, but it had much less institutional support and did not work out. More recently, Ariane Rolland heard about this tentative and, having contact at CCSD, made them meet with Jean-Pierre. That’s the real beginning of the episciences project, which I joined a bit later. The names you should add are the people involved in the CCSD: Christine Berthaud, head of CCSD, Laurent Capelli who is coding the software right now, and Agnès Magron who is working on the communication with Ariane.

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