Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Frontiers in Neuroscience

A new neuroscience journal, Frontiers in Neuroscience, recently published its inaugural issue. It has a big-name editorial board including Larry Abbot,Henry Markram, and my postdoctoral advisor Miguel Nicolelis.

They are taking a big risk with this journal, as it flouts the traditional business model of the big journals like Nature (expensive, for profit journals with access only to paid subscribers). Just like its successful cousin, PLOS, Frontiers is open access, authors have copyright control and can distribute the article as they see fit. With these guys, you won't be directed to any annoying web pages asking you to pay $50.00 for an article you need.

What makes the Frontiers journals even more interesting is their novel policy for article reviewers. Reviewers are not anonymous, but rather "the Referee remains anonymous only during the review period. After the review, the screen is lifted and the Referees are disclosed and acknowledged on the published paper." No more annoying reviews by lazy referees who obviously haven't read the paper closely.

Also, if you review a paper that is ultimately accepted for publication you will have the option of writing up "a one-page summary of the paper co-authored by all participating Referees. These commentaries are referenced and citable and are major incentive for Referees because the current trend is for readers to read more meta-papers before going to the deeper original studies."

This is a very interesting experiment in publication practices. On one hand, writers are almost guaranteed to get constructive and helpful criticisms rather than half-thought-out potshots. On the other hand, if you are a small fish reviewing the paper of a "big name" lab, you might be tempted to hold your punches so as not to incur the wrath of someone with a lot of power in your subfield. Also, referees might be tempted to accept publications so they can get their summary published, thereby packing their CV.

Time will tell whether this radical experiment in open access journals has legs. The first issue has some very interesting articles. The first four are:
1.Shaul Druckmann, Yoav Banitt, Albert A. Gidon, Felix Schürmann, Henry Markram and Idan Segev A Novel Multiple Objective Optimization Framework for Constraining Conductance-Based Neuron Models by Experimental Data.
2.Alex Thomson and Christophe M. Lamy Functional maps of neocortical local circuitry.
3.Sidarta Ribeiro, Xinwu Shi, Matthew Engelhard, Yi Zhou, Hao Zhang, Damien Gervasoni, Shih-Chieh Lin, Kazuhiro Wada, Nelson A. Lemo and Miguel A. Nicolelis Novel experience induces persistent sleep-dependent plasticity in the cortex but not in the hippocampus.
4.Nestor Parga and Larry Abbott Network model of spontaneous activity exhibiting synchronous transitions between up and down states.


Anonymous said...

So, when will you be starting up a "Frontiers in Neurophilosophy" addition to this series? (Hint.)

Eric Thomson said...

Interesting idea, but probably not recommendable for a science journal in its infancy that needs credibility. Plus, aren't there plenty of avenues for neurophilosophers already? E.g., Philosophical Psychology, plus all the general philosophy journals. Do the neurophilosophers need yet another journal?

Anonymous said...

Another interesting stuff is the analytics (available from the abstract page) that show for each article i.e. how many times it has been viewed, downloaded etc with complete geo mapping information.

Anonymous said...

An interesting stuff is a journal devoted to Neuropathology. Something like "Frontiers in Neuropathology". I guess it would be very, very interesting to have a democratic space to publish and discuss the main finds and/or hypothesis about neurodegenerative diseases ou alterations in nervous system elicited by trauma or stroke, for instance.