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Preview: Comments on Half an Hour: The Open Journal Format

Comments on Half an Hour: The Open Journal Format

Updated: 2017-11-14T11:18:41.107-05:00


Surprising, the day you post this article, I was r...


Surprising, the day you post this article, I was releasing the first pre-alpha version of a software which tries just to implement the idea you present here.

I think it will work too, so that I'm trying to make it. Any comment or help is welcome.

The project is called Sci-Wi, and is free software, available under the GPL on sourceforge :
Sci-Wi web site

ojs seems to be quite robustwhen we tried to proto...


ojs seems to be quite robust

when we tried to prototype something like this, namely a loosely edited metazine,, we've used scuttle,, what is based on.
all participants who are registered can edit each others stuff and adding a 'bestof' tag means that an actual item has been approved by more than one editor.

Change This (nowadays defunct, taken over by had a nice system where you could post your proposition on what you'd like to write if there's enough interest. That way was Personal MBA born.

I wonder what's the easiest way to implement 'trust based on action/contribution'.

Hi Stephen. Reckon the concept is sound and as An...


Hi Stephen. Reckon the concept is sound and as Anonymous has suggested, in Australia the weight of things being sent out seems to favour either the small doyen who self reference alot in order to help improve funding opportunities, or those that have Govt funded positions n certain educational areas.

Neither good nor bad, just limited in scope. I've read a number of very good pieces that I know will never see the light of day due to the content being somewhat critical or an alternative to the 'chosen voices' and 'status quo' mantra. This picks up on your thinking about the selection criteria having limitations that might both promote less quality work and deny quality work.

For what it is worth I have both authored and coauthored pieces ready to go
Marcus Barber

Everyone can create their own professional portfol...


Everyone can create their own professional portfolio to publish their own ideas. I have done so at as part of the requirements of my Master's in Distance Education. Any time there is selection it makes me fearful of what I call "paradigm stratification".

that *must* have taken you more than 30 minutes to...


that *must* have taken you more than 30 minutes to hash out :)

i think it is a brilliant idea, and others would too.

to compare 2 social bookmarking sites: furl and delicious... delicious used to have a niche user group compared to furl. maybe it was more programmers, IT ppl, a younger generation- i can't put my finger on it. but then it became more diverse, as it got bigger. multiple languages supported... and then, it became alot of white noise.

also like tribe seemed quite niche to start, with more californians or burning-man goers. it offered an alternative conversation to places like friendster or myspace. then, it became bigger, and again more diverse- and more, em... muddy.

i think it's great to have one-size fits all tools like delicious and, but to remain attractive and useful, niche spaces would be better.

i like the idea of a topical and focused peer-reviewed space- to keep submissions on-topic. or the 'academic oriented digg site'. great metaphor. maybe you're better off starting esoteric and small, with a limited topic or focus.

just some thoughts. 5 or so mins on my part. :)

Hi folksI have had a go at explaining some thought...


Hi folks
I have had a go at explaining some thoughts here

Hi Stephen,Sounds good. I'd love to see a journal ...


Hi Stephen,

Sounds good. I'd love to see a journal of this type initiated. In particular, your emphasis on "voting articles in" instead of submission is innovative. It takes advantage of the network to initiate filtering quality ideas...and then subjects it to peer review (with peer defined less on merit and more on contribution).

As you may recall, I posted an article on "scholarship in an age of participation": We have a slightly different approach than what you advocate (and I expect, we should be issuing our first call for papers over the next week or so). We used OJS as the core for formal review...and wrote a community journal section (ruby) where we can "foster scholarship" and exchange ideas. This section of the journal has some of the components you mention (annotating, rating, posting short ideas/blog posts, etc.). What you suggest is more distributed - i.e. posts are nominated for inclusion. What we've done is create a community space where individuals can post their thoughts/articles for dialogue. You add the component of network-based filtering (which is a great idea, especially for bloggers and others who are used to dialoguing in open environments with distributed conversations).

All of that to say, good ideas, Stephen. I'm not sure if there is opportunity to overlap concepts, but I'd be willing to assist you with your endeavor in any way I can. By the same token, if you have interest in being involved in the journal we're working on, you'd be most welcomed. I think we could both benefit from awareness of what the other is doing.

The opportunity for increased scholarship focus is important...and hopefully we'll see numerous journals and approaches in line with the principles of openness we both advocate.


> Interesting idea! I wonder if there is an issue ...


> Interesting idea! I wonder if there is an issue with incentive: if someone has eschewed the peer-review journal scene

The advantage of this proposal is that it caters to such people. They post their writing wherever they want. They don't need to submit or anything. Someone else nominates the article.

Stephen:Interesting idea! I wonder if there is an ...


Interesting idea! I wonder if there is an issue with incentive: if someone has eschewed the peer-review journal scene and has become a recognised 'expert' through their own self-publishing efforts (blogging for instance), then do they have much incentive to go through a selection & editorial process? After all, they are enjoying the benefit of self selection and self-editing!

I appreciate this might be an edge case - there aren't, after all, so many people in this position, but I wonder if, occasionally, the very 'best' content might be excluded from such a journal?

I am intrigued by this nonetheless and look forward to reading more comments!


Publications going to online is a certain directio...


Publications going to online is a certain direction in the future. This is what I believe. I agree with what you said, Downes.

According to Daniel Lemire's concern, I always believe that the general interest of public will decide the value of any literature. In fact, the value of a paper should not be decided by the authors. Certainly authors by themselves always think that their work is very much valuable. Only the general public has the final judgment of the real value of a paper.

In most of the cases, a less-viewed article is certainly less valuable than a highly viewed article. This is statistically true. Though there must be exceptions, no system could be ultimately fair for everything.

-- Yihong

Here at Utah State we've been working on a very si...


Here at Utah State we've been working on a very similar idea. The big difference is we wanted to separate the review board from the selection of the articles. In other words, the crowd picks the articles, the board polishes them up.
There is some disagreement (and there still is) about how we wanted to handle the voting system. For awhile, we were thinking:
+2 Accept with minor revision
+1 Accept with major revision
0 Neutral (ah, there's a controversy rating)
-1 Decline
Each registered user gets one vote per article. Our feeling is that most won't bother spamming something as oblique as an instructional technology journal.
To Daniel: Although an electronic journal can accept a potentially unlimited number of articles, the challenge of editing and vetting them in a reasonable time frame proves to be onerous.
In any event, the software is open source, so anyone can download it (it's not yet functional, but those with coding experience might be interested). Just search for rjournal at

There is also the issue that certain members of th...


There is also the issue that certain members of the community will vote in a "populous" manner through the article will not hold credibility. This is very much the case in Australia, where several excellent projects are not written up and remain buried because the individual is not in the "click". It is amazing how many carve out and support each other in securing lucrative contracts, yet their "content" is marginal - and many of these people are key players within the conference scene.

Whilst the process has great merit, it also has its down sides in validating marginal works.

To D'Arcy: yes, that is basically what I have in m...


To D'Arcy: yes, that is basically what I have in mind.

To Daniel: the purpose of the exercise is to create a nice package that collects the very best of a certain community. The benefit is to the readers, who are reading this package. There is no reason to collect it in one place, but (by the same argument!) there is no reason not to. And since a print publication would accompany the final version - as a non-digital archive - it makes sense to have a digital version.

I do not anticipate anything like author fees, nor do I anticipate creating a bunch of unpaid labour for the author. I have my thoughts on the 'commercial' model, but for now I want to focus on content management and selection.

Finally: I am not making any claim that what I propose is 'novel'. What I am saying is that this is how I think it should be done, this is how I am thinking of doing it. Has somebody tried this model and failed? That would be useful information.

it draws from content that people have already pos...


it draws from content that people have already posted.

Well. This is probably a good idea since it discourages people from submitting crap on the odd chance that it may get positively reviewed, and with the intent of fixing it later.

However, it is not novel. I already post online content that I submit to journals. It is very common in Physics and other fields to post a "preprint" online during the review process.

The main difference here is that you require public posting of the content, not that you allow it... because it has always been allowed (somehow).

spelling and grammar are checked, links to referen...


spelling and grammar are checked, links to references confirmed, and the like.

I assume that the author pays for this?

I do not mind if that is the case, but please do not tell me "someone will do it for free".

The number of articles published each month would ...


The number of articles published each month would vary, depending on the members' selections, but would typically be small. The top five vote-getters, say.

Why do this? Is electronic ink too expensive? If what you want is to help the readers pick a small set of papers, there is another way: readers could, for example, select only papers that were appreciated by one of their peers. A journal could accept 100 papers, but I might want to read only those that were reviewed by Stephen Downes.

It may not be easy to draft a top 5 list. Say you have this article who got 3 reviews including a poor one and 2 good ones, and this other article who got 20 reviews, all of them good except for two reviews.

What do you do then?

I may write a paper on "the current state of e-Learning" and it may attract many, many readers. Then I will write a paper on "Online learning and graduate programs in Information Technology" and maybe five people will ever read it. These two papers will get a very different readership and are not comparable in any way. Yet, both should get picked somehow.

I think that acceptance has to be a pass/no-pass thing, not a popularity contest.

Stephen, I like the idea. I was going to mention P...


Stephen, I like the idea. I was going to mention Pitch, but of course you already had it in mind.

What you're proposing sounds a bit like an academic-oriented Digg website. Submit a link, have it reviewed/rated, and then the highest-rated submissions for a period "make the cut" for inclusion in the journal.

Is that what you've got in mind? Sounds like it might be able to straddle both traditional and unconventional "expert" definitions - could have a review board for topics, as well as encouraging comments and submissions from members/public at large.