BETTER models of proteins, the mathematics of malaria, and an enzyme that detects foreign DNA are among the first contents of a new life sciences journal that marks another chapter in the open access story.
Launched this month the eLife journal promises to get papers online faster, linking them with plain language summaries, statements of impact, and debate.
It is funded by the US Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Germany's Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust in the UK, and says it hopes to develop other 'independent revenue streams'.
The journal will not charge authors while it is 'being established' but expects to levy in future 'an article processing charge as part of a broader plan for sustainability'.
Its board of reviewing editors, comprising 175 scientists, includes Australian geneticist John Mattick, director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and a professorial fellow at the University of NSW. Earlier this year, Wellcome Trust director Mark Walport predicted eLife would operate at 'the very top end of the scientific publishing industry, a visible high-profile competitor to Nature and Science'. 'In no sense is this a war in which we're trying to put (commercial publishers) out of business, the thing that would be best for them to do is to change their publishing model.'
This year, frustration with the traditional model of scientific publishing led to a campaign against the commercial giant Elsevier. More than 13,000 researchers have signed the petition of protest known as The Cost of Knowledge. The eLife journal seeks to distinguish itself from open access 'megajournals' such as PLoS ONE by being more selective. 'Only those papers that are deemed by our editors as the very best in science will be published,' eLife says. 'Megajournals use a peer-review process that assesses research rigour, but not potential impact or significance.'