eLife, a New Scholarly Communication System
"The launch of a new open access (OA) journal has become commonplace today. In fact, one would be surprised to find a new journal launching that was of the “traditional” bent given the current mood of academic libraries and their budgets. In December 2012, a new journal, eLife debuted and it is different enough from the traditional mode of scholarly communication that merely calling it a new journal does not really do it justice. The eLife Initiative is funded and overseen by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust, all major research funders. According to the site, “Their goal is to develop an initiative in research communication whose primary motivation is to serve the interests of science, and to catalyse widespread improvement of the current system for disseminating and sharing of new research findings." The eLife journal (ISSN 2050-084X) is based in Cambridge, U.K. (HighWire Press is actually handling the mechanics of publishing). And while it is unlike most OA journals that get shouldered with the often-inappropriate label of 'author-pays' OA journal, no funds are exchanged between the researcher and the journal while the journal is being established, but fees may be imposed later as other revenue streams are developed... There are many features that eLife strives to accomplish, more than can be discussed in this article, but I offer a few of the highlights. The design of eLife makes much better use of being an electronic medium than many journals (OA or not). Content is licensed under a CC-BY license that permits unrestricted use and redistribution, provided that the original author and source are credited. The content is offered in HTML, PDF, and XML, the latter providing an improved ability for data mining, translation, and other reuses. This is a departure from the permissions given by many journals ... Another key feature that makes eLife unique is that it seeks to improve the publishing experience for early-career researchers, as is noted on its website. 'We aim to make eLife the leading choice for all researchers, in particular for early-career researchers. It’s important that early experiences of publishing are constructive and fair. We’ll deliver a top publishing venue to advance careers in science; we’ll make decisions quickly; deliver a fair, transparent, and supportive author experience; and create maximum potential exposure for published works.' eLife is using an open discussion between editors and reviewers, also a strategic difference from other journals..."