Apple changes how people listen to music with the iPod, makes a lot of money. Microsoft tries to get in on the action with the “me too” Zune.
The story did not end well for the Zune. I never saw a Zune in anyone’s hands, ever.
In my email inbox today:
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is exploring the possibility of publishing a new online-only, peer-reviewed open access journal.
The email asks me to take a survey, which I do. The Society is looking at a journal that would be supported by article processing fees of a couple of thousand bucks, open access, that might be a little light on the copyediting. You know, like PLOS ONE or Frontiers journals or the PeerJ (albeit the suggested charges make the proposed journal significantly more expensive than PeerJ).
You know, for all that some people criticize PLOS ONE, an awful lot of publishers seem to want to make pointless duplicates of it. And like the Zune, such a journal might limp along for a while. Author submissions expand to fill the available journals, just like clutter expands to fill the available space, and data expands to fill the available hard drive.
Is the problem facing authors, readers, the scientific community in general a lack of places to publish? No, it is not. We have enough places to publish. We do not need new journals, unless they can show they do something different in their editorial practices (PLOS ONE) or business model (PeerJ), or maybe focus attention an new field of research. We need existing journals to stop slavishly following the traditions and patterns of behaviour that made perfect sense when only paper journals existed.
Stop it, SfN. Just stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Stop believing that the imprimatur of the society is so strong and so meaningful that we are all going to be submit papers to your Zune journal.