Journal Guide helps you find, compare and rate journals

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 1.03.11 PMSo, after years at the bench, months fighting with your co-authors about the wording of the second phrase of the 5th paragraph, you are ready to publish! The question is, where should we publish the paper? With over 25,000 journals to choose from, the possibilities are plentiful and can be overwhelming. And for your paper to have impact, you must find your audience and thus find the journal that your audience reads…

Journal Guide is a platform that helps authors navigate through this profusion of scientific journals. It asks for your paper’s title and abstract, then extracts the important keyword and identifies a series of journals that seem to be a good fit.

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Example of search result in Journal Guide

The results are displayed in a table (see image above) with the search score, journal name, publisher and impact factor. For each journal, Journal Guide also identifies published articles that are related to your title and abstract. If others in your field have chosen a particular journal, you might want to consider it as well. Once you have chosen a couple of journals that seem appropriate, Journal Guide offers a tool to compare their characteristics side by side (see screen capture below).

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Comparison of three different journals

At any time during your search, clicking on the name of the journal will display another layer of information. There, one can learn about the journal’s aims and scope, costs and open access policies. But even more interesting is the ability of users to provide anonymous feedbacks about their personal experience with the journal. Information such as the speed of publication can be particularly useful.

Another online service provided by Edanz also helps authors decide on a journal by analyzing title and abstract. Journal Guide pushes the concept further by offering user accounts, side by side journal comparisons and journal rating. Although still in new and in beta version, Journal Guide has the potential to help create a more healthy competition between journals by making it easier to compare them and can already help young researchers better promote their research by choosing the right journal.

Out of curiosity, I have tested a few of my publications. Entering the title and abstract and looking down the list to see how the journal that I have selected are ranked by Journal Guide.  Some of my articles came up with the journal I published in as first choice. Others did not even show the journal they are published in. Perhaps this is a sign that the choice of journal can be quite irrational some times. Journal Guide could help us make more objective decision.

Journal Guide is a division of Research Square, a for profit organization also creators of AJE and Rubriq.

A look at Pubmed’s new commenting platform

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 10.00.50 AMPubmed is implementing a new function that enables researchers to share their thoughts about scientific publications. By allowing readers to comment and debate about specific papers publicly,  PubMed Commons is trying to extend the peer-review of manuscripts after their publication. If successful, PubMed Commons will become a platform for scientific discussions that could foster constructive criticism and eventually improve published papers and science. The service is currently in its pilot version which is restricted to recipients of NIH or Wellcome Trust funding. But I’ve put together a couple of screeenshots to give you a quick look at this interesting new feature.

Nothing much has changed from the familiar Pubmed abstract page. But notice that at the bottom of the page, a new “Reader Comments” section has appeared. Comments can be directly typed in the text box.

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Although comments of any length can be posted, it is recommended to keep it short and clear. Simple formatting options are offered, but need to be written as code in the text box.

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For example, links to other articles can be added by including the PMID number.  A direct link with author and year appears when published.

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All contributions are published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License and can be edited or deleted after publications. The comments are assigned a unique and permanent link so that they can be easily referred to. It is also not allowed to use anonymous pseudonyms to maximize accountability for comments. As of today about 200 articles have comments link to them, which is negligible compared to the 23 million referenced papers in Pubmed. But that will surely increase greatly with the service going live in the near future.

Similar initiatives such as Pubpeer and publishers such as Faculty of 1000, Frontiers and Plos already offer similar functionalities. However, the relatively small size of their user-communities and the lack of incentive for researchers to comment publicly on papers have limited their success up to now.  Pubmed Commons is starting off with a very large number of regular users, so perhaps this will be a different story. I believe that post-publication review will start being a serious alternative to the traditional post-publication peer review when at least two factors are combined:

  1. Commenting needs to happen on a centralized system, which is already familiar to researchers and that counts a certain critical mass of active users. Pubmed common has the potential to make that happen and Pubpeer’s talks about joining forces with Pubmed Commons could only help.
  2. Researchers need to accept that publications are not absolute truths, set in stone for eternity. Everyone should be allowed to make (honest) mistakes, if they are ready to accept constructive criticism. Publication should be dynamic documents, living with the evolution of knowledge. Papers are constantly being commented, criticized and applauded, but why keep these behind closed doors?

Publons set to revolutionize peer review in physics

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 7.46.35 PMPublons is another great alternative or complement to the traditional peer review process. Like others, this service is an answer to the slow and rather opaque peer-review process, in which the fate of a manuscript is to the mercy of an anonymous pair of experts. The idea is that publishing research results should not be the limiting step. Papers should be published, then reviewed and commented-on by the readers. This sort of system would allow researchers to have a direct, rapid and interactive feedback on their work.

Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston, described in their founding article that publon are facetious particle that is to academic research what an electron is to charge. Peter Koveski first described them as “[…] the elementary particle of scientific publication. It has long been known that publons are mutually repulsive. The chances of finding more than one publon in a paper are negligible. Even more intriguing is the apparent ability of the same publon to manifest itself at widely separated instants in time. One reason why this has not emerged until now seems to be that a publon can manifest itself with different words and terminology … defeating observations with even the most powerful database scanners.”

As you might have guessed, Publons is focused on physics manuscripts. It allows researchers to comment and review paper published on the pre-print repository arXiv and a list of top physics journals (Applied physics letters, Nature, PRL…).

Users can review, discuss and rate papers, and can also create a profile page gathering their contributions as well as their own publications. Once more, Publons’ success will largely depend on the size of the community that it can attract. So, have a look and share the word!

The tool was added to the list of Online Tools for Researchers


Comment on published manuscripts with PubPeer

Logo_PubPeerThe other day, I ran into PubPeer, which allows readers to comment on publications. Here’s a description directly taken from the “about” section:

PubPeer seeks to create an online community that uses the publication of scientific results as an opening for fruitful discussion. 

  • All comments are consolidated into a centralized and searchable online database. 
  •  Authors, as well as a small group of peers working on similar topics, are automatically notified when their article is commented on.
  • Pubpeer strives to maintain a high standard of commentary by inviting first and last authors of published articles to post comments.
  • The chief goal of this project is to provide the means for scientists to work together to improve research quality, as well as to create improved transparency that will enable the community to identify and bring attention to important scientific advancements. 

PubPeer is democratizing the peer review process. This is driven by the idea that publishing research results should be open to all since publishing costs are driven down by massive digitization. However open discussions and reviews should be retained to assure good science and generate new ideas.

Shifting the peer review process from before to after publication is an ongoing effort shared by others. The idea is usually to first build a community around a collection of papers then get discussion started.  I love to concept, but feel like the system is taking its time to get adopted by the masses. Why is that? Could it be because the communities are too small? Because they are too diverse maybe? Or perhaps because such comments are not taken into account to measure research impact?