Open access and the press : Columbia Journalism Review
"After a decade of growth, the open-access movement in scientific publishing still hasn’t overthrown the traditional model of paid content and subscription-based access, but new initiatives continue to try. The latest entrant, which launched December 13, 2012, is a collaboration of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Wellcome Trust, and the Max Planck Society called eLife. On Thursday, U.S. News and World Report managing editor Simon Owens looked into the prospects of the fledgling open-access journal, whose founders 'collectively contribute more than $4.2 billion a year to scientific research.' Unsurprisingly, they’re aiming high, Owens reported: 'To date, eLife has already published more than 60 articles in the short time since its launch, and it still remains to be seen whether it can achieve the quick ascendancy to become one of the most-sought after publications for high impact research. Its founders believe that the prestige of its backers, along with the leading scientists who run it, will catapult it to the status of the Cells and Natures of the world, but the question remains as to whether scientists will abandon these closed-access stalwarts.' According to Owens, eLife’s biggest innovation is its process for vetting papers, which does away with anonymity among peer reviewers and assigns a single editor to handle second- and third-round revisions, rather than sending the paper back to the full team of reviewers. As Owens noted, this is a major departure from the typical system of anonymous, uncoordinated, sometimes conflicting reviews that can mire a paper for weeks or months. It’s clear that if eLife intends to challenge the norms of scientific publishing, it should focus more energy on disrupting the norms of media relations in the sciences. In a promising first step, the eLife media policy waives the dreaded 'Ingelfinger Rule' and the typical press embargo, a major departure from what pay journals do. But given its bold mission 'to catalyze innovation,' it could do more. I would propose two new experiments that could help eLife effect change in how journals relate to the popular press ..."