The future of publishing in ecology, evolutionary biology, and environmental science

Principal Investigator(s): 

Christopher Lortie, Jarrett Byrnes

The primary goal of this project is to explore the adoption of alternative publication models to promote more open science and to create a new system of disseminating completed research publications. What we hope to produce need not serve as an wholesale replacement for current journals but as an alternative to promote faster reviews, more transparency, collaboration, and more open access to the science we produce in every form. We are using the physics model of arXiv, the open access policy common in evidence-based medicine, and the data sharing policies of most genetics research as a point of departure for our working group and our vision of the future of science publishing. We will bring together participants from every aspect of the publication process in ecology and evolution from scientists to publishers, such as members of PLoS and arXiv, to the gatekeepers of academic databases, such as Google and ISI. To achieve our overarching goal, we will address the following three objectives:

(1) To discuss how to more effectively promote ‘open science’ in ecology and evolution in general. The primary targets will be how to facilitate the linking of articles to their associated analytical and data attributes. Another target will be how to incorporate more of the discussion and review process associated with the end product including the decisions made in handling data and in analyzing and interpreting it in light of feedback from reviews. The deliverable will be a broad future directions paper on open science (including open access implications).

(2) To discuss the viability of providing an arXiv pre-publication open forum for ecology and evolution and how to incorporate peer review into such a system (which arXiv currently does not). We will discuss whether the current journal and publication models in ecology and evolution are outdated or able to adapt. The primary deliverable from this objective will be a synthesis paper of the limitations and strengths of the current publication models (from publisher handling of journals to treatment of reviews) and a discussion of future directions.

(3) The final objective will be to launch a version of the platform proposed. The critical elements will be discussed at the final meeting by a reduced roster of the participants. The targets of this objective will be to define key elements needed for ecology and evolution – specifically in an online model, identify keystone elements needed for a beta version, and develop a pipeline for launch and effective buy in by the community. Queen’s University has the capacity and staff to assist with providing the beta-version for two years including Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licensing, part-time staff, DOIs, and will include the ‘journal’ as part of the Open Journals System.

In summary, this Working Group will provide an open-science synthesis publication, a balanced report on the state-of-the-art for publishing in ecology and evolution, and a beta-version of an alternative model as an open journal.

UPDATED September 2013

The Future of Publication NCEAS project has been a fascinating experience as a working group, as it was not about ecology per se but about publishing differently.
Publications and Other Products:

1. Special issue: Future of Publishing,Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 5: 99102, 2012 doi:10.4033/iee.2012.5b.19.f

2. Created an ongoing section on the Future of Publishing for Ideas in Ecology and Evolution:  first paper:

3. Byrnes JE, Baskerville E, Caron B, Neylon C, Tenopir C et al. (2013) The four pillars of scholarly publishing: The future and a foundation. PeerJ PrePrints 1:e11v1
More information about this project.