Because I advocate open access, public access, and other new forms of scholarly publishing, some people think I am against traditional journals. That’s not quite right. I am always against ineffective, or incompetent, journal practices – like dragging papers through 3 or 4 rounds of revision. But my larger point is this: journal pluralism – scholarship comes in many forms and there can be many forms of distributing it.
- Standard model: High rejection rate, often “developmental” – multi-year revisions standard. Criteria are particular and vague.
- Up or out: Sociological Science is a new model. Maybe not quite as selective, but they take papers “as is” or with modest revision. Still, there is a strong editorial influence.
- Agnostic: PLoS One – the main criteria is scientific rigor but completely agnostic with respect to “importance.” The reader decides.
It is not too hard to see the value of each model. The Standard model allows people to engage in a lengthy and complex revision process. It is also good for identifying papers that fit disciplinary norms well. Up or out is well designed for papers that may not fit disciplinary standards, but have an obvious and strong result. Agnostic publishing is exactly that. The journal certifies adherence to scientific standards but shifts decisions about importance to external audiences.
Some people see the new models as illegitimate, but I say the competition is good.