Thursday, April 5, 2007

Announcing: The Journal of Evolutionary and Historical Science

Using the new PLoS ONE model of open-access with community-based reviews as a basis, I am happy to announce the creation of the Journal of Evolutionary and Historical Science (JEHS). JEHS is a journal that is meant to bring together researchers interested in studying the evolution of ourselves. By researchers, I mean archaeologists, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, historians, evolutionary biologists, geographers, and many others. Through an open community based review system in which everyone gets to participate in commenting on articles, we hope to foster interdisciplinary discussion on the application of evolutionary theory in the study of historical phenomena. I strongly believe that many disciplines, particularly those moribund through 'traditional' thinking, trapped by the 'haves' who work hard to keep change comfortable for themselves, and those in which change is twittering on the edge of discovery, need to have venues that allow for more rapid innovation and more global and immediate feedback of ideas. As the EHB article demonstrated the engine of change is really innovation rate - and its become clear that in disciplines like archaeology innovation is often stifled, in place of rewordings of the same old kinds of approaches. Community-based publications permit us to present our ideas to the world and let researchers and scientists provide the feedback as to whether they are useful or not. Why let the old-white-men-and-women determine what is "appropriate" or not in secrecy? Free the ideas! Publications in JEHS will initially focus on getting great papers that have no chance of seeing the light of day. Papers that might go into obscure edited volumes that no one will own or read. The edited volume phenomenon is particular detrimental to non-US researchers who may not be able to afford the cost of the books. Through an open-access policy, everyone everywhere can read the material for free. In this way, it will be possible to create a larger international group of scientists than is possible with traditional forms of publications. We will also accept great conference papers or other kinds of submissions that are professionally done but could use feedback from the great minds that exist out in the world. We all have these kinds of papers - and all-too-often the idea of polishing it up to send to a traditional journal (with the attendant and obligatory "correct" citations of individuals, correct "framing" of wording to appease the Old-Men/Women, tricky wording to fool those who might be easily offended, and other huge time sinks) is too horrible to really consider. We want those papers - the world needs those papers. Organizationally, I would like to encourage as many editors (section editors, each with different kinds of expertise) as possible. These individuals (who can serve on multiple sections as desired) simply work to encourage submissions and to do the technical reviews on articles as they come in. The latter task requires making sure that the papers meet technical standards and that spelling and other basic requirements are met. Thus the burden should be fairly light and the turn around on paper submissions should be fast. The more people who can participate as section editors, the better - since it will mean more papers, and faster throughput. If anyone out there wants to become a section editor, simply send me an email (clipo@csulb.edu). Our aim is to get the journal indexed and crawled like a regular journal. Who needs paper anyways these days? We have applied for an ISSN number and will work with the open-access community to integrate JEHS into existing frameworks for citation analysis, indexing, etc. The advantage of all of this is that the cost of running the entire journal is zero (other than our own efforts) with no print costs. This means we can accept innovative articles, long pieces, color figures, huge data sets, etc. It's a new day in the academic publication world. JEHS is hosted on an open-source database back end platform from Simon Fraser called Open Journal Systems. The OJS software is remarkably complete - and comes standard with roles, email feedback, automated submission system, etc. Very impressive. Ultimately, I'd like to migrate the journal to TOPAZ that PLoS ONE uses - once the software (which is also open-source) is released (which is supposed to happen soon).
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