Re: Overlay Journals

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 18:11:32 +0000

Chris Surridge wrote in

> I'm really interested in the concept of 'Overlay Journals' although this
> is the first time I have heard the phrase. I see them as a way to decouple
> the 'validation' activity of peer-review from the 'selection' function...
> All the same I don't know of any good examples. The only partial
> equivalents seem to be the American Institute of Physics/American
> Physical Society's 'Virtual Journal of..." series
> Are there any shining examples out there?

There are no shining examples, and that's my point.

(0) A journal that accepts submissions via an IR is not an "overlay
journal," it is merely a journal that accepts submissions via an IR.

(1) New start-up online-only journals are not overlay journals, they are
just online-only journals.

(2) Ditto if they are OA journals: that's not an overlay journal but an
OA journal.

(3) Ditto if they are OA journals charging only for peer review. (But I
know of no such journal as yet: today's OA journals still seem bent on
producing a product, a text, rather than just providing a service, peer
review. Some, however, like the BMC journals, simply deposit the text in
a CR, such as BioMed Central.)

(4) Of the c. 24,000 peer-reviewed journals that exist today, if we set
aside the c. 3000 that are online-only and/or OA, I know of none among
the remaining 21,000 that were persuaded to unbundle peer-review from
access-provision in order to become an "overlay journal." (Some of the
3000 were no doubt previously paper journals and/or non-OA journals, but
so what?)

In sum, and to repeat, the notion of "overlay journal" is vague; if we
*define* it as a journal that abandons access-provision and only
performs peer review, there are none, yet, and I bet there will not be,
until well after all 2.5 million annual articles in the current 24,000
journals are being self-archived in IRs by their authors. Then, maybe,
access-provision will be abandoned by journals and they will charge
(author-institutions) for peer-review and certification only. If some
will want to call those journals "overlay journals," they are free to do
so. I would just call them "journals," in the OA era...

Peter Suber wrote in Open Access News

> These confusions may occur now and then, but the concept of an overlay
> journal doesn't depend on them. Hence, we should be careful to clarify
> rather than dismiss the concept of overlay journals. They remain
> important ways to decouple peer review from dissemination and minimize
> the costs of a peer-reviewed journal.

What's most important, I think, is to make all 2.5 million articles
OA. Self-archiving them looks like by far the best bet for that, if backed
up by self-archiving mandates. It may or may not be important, eventually,
to decouple peer review from dissemination to minimize costs. If and when
it is, and if and when it is done, we may or may not want to call the
result an "overlay journal." (It think it's just an OA journal, in the
OA era!)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Nov 24 2006 - 20:34:39 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:36 GMT