The Frontal Cortex

Frontiers in Neuroscience

I linked to an interesting new paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience last week, but I thought it was worth talking a bit more about the journal itself. It’s a brand new publication, which attempts to completely transform the peer review process. The journal grew out of frustration with the traditional scientific publication crapshoot, which the editors of Frontiers criticize as:

Complicated and time consuming,
Biased and controlled by local lobbies and powerful journals,
And not geared towards the needs of Authors. In this publishing system the prestige comes from where one publishes and not what one publishes.

Sounds about right. So how did they fix the model? The key part of their model is the evaluation system/paper impact algorithm, which uses a number of innovative measurements to figure out which papers deserve to be published in the most prestigious section of Frontiers. In essence, the Frontiers system is part traditional referee system and part wisdom of crowds:

The Frontiers Impact Analysis includes the following Scores:

Frontiers Academic Excellence Score
Evaluates the scientific excellence of a article based on the expertise and experience levels of the Reader.

Frontiers Social Relevance Score
Evaluates the social relevance of an article based on the proximity between a Readers expertise and the articles topic.

Frontiers Related Article Index
Evaluates how many related articles where published after the publication of a particular paper, or the direct rating of articles by Referees/Editors and Readers.

Articles Ratings by Referees/Editors and Readers
Articles are directly rated by experts such as referees and editors on the one hand and by all readers on the other hand.

The bad news is that it’s an Author-pay system, although I still think that’s preferable to the alternative, which is to have publicly financed research sitting behind an expensive ($30 per article in Nature!) publishing wall.