Do you have a great idea for a study that you want to share with the world? A new journal will gladly publish it. Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) will also publish papers on your methods, workflows, data, reports, and software—in short, “all outputs of the research cycle." RIO, an open-access (OA) journal, was officially launched today and will start accepting submissions in November.
“We're interested in making the full process of science open,” says RIO founding editor Ross Mounce, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London. Many good research proposals fall by the wayside because funding agencies have limited budgets, Mounce says; RIO is a way to give them another chance. Mounce hopes that funders will use the journal to spot interesting new projects.
Publishing proposals can also help create links between research teams, Mounce says. “Let's say you're going to Madagascar for 6 months to sample turtle DNA,” he suggests. ”If you can let other researchers know ahead of time, you can agree to do things together.”
RIO's idea to publish research proposals is “exactly what we need if we really want to have open science,” says Iryna Kuchma, the OA program manager at the nonprofit organization Electronic Information for Libraries in Rome. Pensoft, the publishing company behind RIO, is a “strong open-access publishing venue” that has proven its worth with more than a dozen journals in the biodiversity field, Kuchma says.
The big question is, of course: Will researchers want to share promising ideas, at the risk that rivals run with them? Jeffrey Beall, a scholarly communications librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, doesn't think so. “I don't see people sharing their research proposals,” Beall says. “Research is competitive and you want to keep your secrets close to your chest.” Mounce says scientists shouldn't be too concerned about that—on the contrary, by putting out an idea early, scientists can get credit for it, as well as valuable feedback from colleagues, he says.
Others are more worried about RIO's optional peer-review model. The journal will publish papers “almost straight away” after “basic technical checks to make sure the paper is not deeply unethical or a spoof,” Mounce says. For some output types, RIO also asks authors to get a presubmission review of their manuscript "from an appropriate colleague." But "formal peer review” will be optional, at the author’s request—and for an extra fee. That makes the journal a “mishmash … neither an unrefereed proposal platform nor a refereed journal,” says OA advocate Stevan Harnad, a cognitive scientist at the University of Quebec, Montreal, in Canada.
Harnad is not a fan of OA journals that charge publishing fees in general. Authors don't need to pay a platform or a journal to host their papers or ideas, he says: “All they need do is post it on the Web or deposit it in their institutional repository.” “Firms like this favor people and ideas with money behind them,” Beall adds. “If you have money you can get your idea published and get a [digital object identifier] that makes it look more legitimate.”
Mounce says that RIO is a for-profit operation, but not a profiteering one. Article submission fees will be affordable, ranging between 50 and a few hundred euros depending on the article type, size, and submission format, according to the journal. They will be waived for those who can't afford them, such as scientists in developing countries.