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Publishing scientific research: is there ground for new ventures? [100010]

thread works:079_elpub2008 triggered this discussion:
  harnad:Publishing scientific research: is there ground for new ventures?
from harnad
subject Publishing scientific research: is there ground for new ventures?
message What on earth is an "overlay journal"? I've heard the term many times since it was first proposed years ago, but I still have no idea what it means.

I know what a peer-viewed journal is. It is an editor, editorial board, referees and a journal title with a track record for quality. Unrefereed drafts (preprints) are submitted, refereed, revised, sometimes accepted (if they meet the journal's quality standards), and then the final, accepted, refereed draft (the postprint) is published. Publication is sometime in print, sometimes in print and electronic, and sometimes electronic only.

In addition, sometimes that authors post their preprint and/or their postrprint in an OA repository. Posting is not publishing, it is access-provision, either to a un refereed preprint or a refereed postprint.

Now what is an "overlay" journal? Preprints can be submitted to a journal for refereeing in many ways these days: on paper, via email, or by depositing it in a repository and emailing the journal the URL.

So if I submit the preprint in some of these ways (say, sending the URL), does that make the journal I submit it to an overlay journal?

If the journal is electronic only, does that make it an overlay journal? If the journal sends me the final published PDF, and I deposit it it in my IR, and no one ever consults the publisher's PDF on its website, only my self-archived version, does that make the journal an overlay journal? Or is it an overlay journal if it no longer bothers to archive its PDF? Or not longer bothers to generate it at all, simply treating the refereed postprint as the published version?

I think it's obvious that we are merely talking about a continuum of electronic means of making submission, refereeing, access-provision and archiving more efficient in the online era. There is no such thing as an "overlay journal" (or else all journals are and always have been "overlays" on the author's first draft.

The authors of this paper are to be forgiven for their confusion about this: The astrophysics community they surveyed have not thought it through any more carefully than anyone else has, since the notion of "overlay journal" was first proposed...

We are talking about journals in the OA era, which consist of nothing more or less than peer-review service providers (certifying the outcome, as always, with their title and its track record).

Stevan Harnad
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last changed 2008/06/26 01:28
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