Re: Overlay Journals

From: Armbruster, Chris <Chris.Armbruster_at_EUI.EU>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 12:51:10 +0100

I am in agreement with David here. I would also like to point out that
- Faculty of 1000 already effectively organises post-publication peer review as an overlay service
- In the social sciences and humanities it is customary to re-print articles in edited books and sometimes even in journals. This too is a form of overlay service that is based on a form of peer review over the long term.

Overlay journals and overlay services are concepts that will be understood across the disciplines.

Moreover, the real opprtunity of overlay journals and similar ideas is to slash publication costs and thus to free up resources to professionalise peer review. This includes faster reaction times and a more efficient and transparent selection of reviewers.

Now, any author in any discipline understands the value of improved peer review. And any reader understands that the professionalisation of peer review (faster, open access, repeated over time) will leave her with vastly improved guidance in spending her time reading.

Chris Armbruster

 "Cyberscience and the Knowledge-based Economy, Open Access and Trade Publishing: From Contradiction to Compatibility with Nonexclusive Copyright Licensing" (October 2006). Available at SSRN:

"Open Access in Social and Cultural Science: Innovative Moves to Enhance Access, Inclusion and Impact in Scholarly Communication" (November 15, 2005). Available at SSRN:

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: American Scientist Open Access Forum im Auftrag von David Goodman
Gesendet: Mo 27.11.2006 22:02
Betreff: Re: Overlay Journals
The decisive objection that you give:

> Overlay journals on the APS/AIP model could work in an OA
> environment, but
> only if the articles on which they were overlaid were already peer
> reviewed.. .

> The danger
> here is that the community's efforts - both as reviewers and as
> readers -
> could be unnecessarily duplicated if articles were selected for
> more than one journal

We need only continue the present rule that an article not be submitted to
more than one journal at a time, and that an overlay journal certifying
primary research will not consider an article published in another journal.

The other difficulties also apply just as much to conventional journals--they
too need to be paid for, and people have to be willing to revise.
They have been estimated to cost between 5% and 50% as much as
at present, and arXiv and others already have the ability to accommodate revisions.

The overlay journals would have their peer review organized by the same
prestigious scientific societies that now publish journals, or possibly some
operated by conventional publishers, where the standard is the responsibility
of the editor, and the journal will only be as good as she is--just like now.

Peer reviewers and editors would do the work for the same reason as now--
the prestige of recognition as an expert.

An indexing service could decide, like PubMed, to index only those articles in
a journal, or, like OACI, to index everything in a repository--they would be
used for different purposes.

There's an additional feature--they could be organized beginning now, for
articles in repositories, without any additional structure, and without any
capital. All that is needed. besides a group of
sufficiently dedicated & distinguished reviewers and editors, is authors
willing to publish in them--just as now.

Perhaps some fields like mathematics or applied
mathematics or mathematical physics would be the place to start.
Or information science: journals in this field have publication delays
and high subscription costs, and the potential authors and editors should
already understand the concept.

If Stevan doesn't understand, he need not paticipate--just as any other author.
We'd also need ta rule that these journals would consider only the articles actively
submitted to them, or he'd find himself an author , like it or not.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.
Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sally Morris (Chief Executive)" <>
Date: Monday, November 27, 2006 12:19 pm

> Overlay journals on the APS/AIP model could work in an OA
> environment, but
> only if the articles on which they were overlaid were already peer
> reviewed(the point about the APS/AIP VJs is that they articles have
> already appeared
> in other journals).
> Some people seem to think that peer review could, indeed, be
> decoupled from
> individual journals and applied 'in the abstract' to some (or all?)
> of the
> articles in a repository. It has even been suggested that this is
> a new
> role for learned societies.
> However, I remain to be convinced (and I don't see societies
> leaping to
> adopt the suggestion...). Here are some of the problems I have
> with the
> idea:y
> 1) PR is not context-free. Reviewers are not judging, in some
> absoluteway, whether an article is good or bad - it's not ticking a
> box. Rather,
> they are determining not only whether an article reports a soundly
> conductedstudy in a clear and accurate way, but also whether it is
> sufficientlyinteresting and relevant for a particular (time-poor)
> community of readers
> 2) Reviewers don't just recommend acceptance or rejection (in a
> veryparticular journal) - they usually recommend changes and
> improvements.Hardly any articles are accepted as they stand. There
> is usually at least
> one, but may be several rounds of to-and-fro with the journal
> editor before
> the article is OK to publish
> 3) Reviewers agree to spend valuable time doing this detailed
> work not
> just because they are committed to scholarly communication in their
> discipline in the abstract (and hope that their own work will in
> turn be
> treated equally carefully by others). They respond to specific
> invitationsfrom editors they respect, who edit journals that they
> respect. I am not
> certain how this would work at repository/society level
> 4) Oh - and who would pay? As publishers have found, managing
> the PR
> process is not free - and editors, too, have to be paid. I'm not
> clear how
> this would, in fact, reduce overall system costs...
> So - what's the context for this type of PR? What's the (journal-
> like)entity for which they are reviewing? Who's the respected
> editor who invites
> them to do so?
> The other way of doing it would be for articles in repositories to
> be, as at
> present, unreviewed but for journals which identified them for
> Publication(with a capital P) to organise PR on them in the normal
> way. The danger
> here is that the community's efforts - both as reviewers and as
> readers -
> could be unnecessarily duplicated if articles were selected for
> more than
> one journal. Let alone what that would do to citations...
> I may have missed something - I'd be interested to hear others' views
> Sally
> Sally Morris, Chief Executive
> Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
> South House, The Street, Clapham
> Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3UU, UK
> Tel: +44 (0) 1903 871 686
> Fax: +44 (0) 8701 202806
> Email:
> Website:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
> Sent: Friday, November 24, 2006 6:11 PM
> Subject: Re: Overlay Journals
> > Chris Surridge wrote in
> >
> guid.html#comments>
> >> 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 Tue Nov 28 2006 - 12:17:04 GMT

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