There’s no shortage of places to publish original research papers about pathogens and immunity, but a new peer-reviewed journal on those topics has a unique author-friendly mandate: to reduce the submission process to a matter of minutes, and initial reviews to just a few days.
In related news, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York also announced today a similar attempt to simplify submissions to nine peer-reviewed journals.
“The submission process is usually a nightmare of torture and torment. It’s simply not necessary,” says Michael Lederman, the founder and editor-in-chief of the new journal, Pathogens & Immunity.
Lederman, an immunologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, promises that the journal’s online submission process only takes 5 minutes. And, unlike other journals, it will accept any format approved by the National Library of Medicine. The editors will only request reformatting upon acceptance of a paper.
That should avoid wasted effort, Lederman says. “People typically try to get into the highest impact journals first, and if they don’t succeed, they have to reformat,” he says. He ticks off a long list of top-tier journals in his field that have different formats: Science, Cell, Nature, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The Journal of Experimental Medicine. “You can spend a day or two reformatting,” he says.
Pathogens & Immunity, which has just started to accept submissions, has “reasonable flexibility” about the length of the papers, he adds. Authors don’t have to sign lengthy documents, and they’re welcome to include reviews from other journals and their responses. Senior editors will decide within 4 days whether to send a paper out for review.
“I think the idea is brilliant,” says Steven Deeks, an HIV/AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who agreed to serve as an associate editor of the journal. “It makes publishing a joy.”
Deeks and the other associate editors will serve as reviewers, and the journal will take another unusual step and pay them $50 for evaluating submissions. “I don’t like the idea of working for free,” Lederman says. “I don’t like publication houses using the insecurity of me and my colleagues to maintain their businesses.”
The journal’s startup is funded by a small portion of an $18.5 million grant that Lederman and his colleague Leonard Calabrese received from the Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation, primarily to support their HIV/AIDS research.
Lederman does not want to create The Journal of Last Resort, and vows to only accept papers about interesting immunology and infectious diseases—his original title for the online, open-access publication.
“Is there a need for another journal on these topics?” Lederman asks. “No. Is there a need for a journal that’s really friendly to researchers? Absolutely. And if we can do it better than the crop that exists, maybe others will modify their style a bit.”
If all goes well, the first issue will appear in July.
In a similar attempt to simplify submissions, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announced today that papers uploaded to its biology preprint server, bioRXiv—which are only screened for offensive or nonscientific content—now can be directly transferred to nine peer-reviewed journals for consideration.
The collaborating publications are the Biophysical Journal, eLife, The EMBO Journal, EMBO Molecular Medicine, EMBO Reports, G3:Genes/Genomes/Genetics, Genetics, Genome Research, and Molecular Systems Biology. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is expected to join the collaboration soon.