Unlimited Openness

(February 3rd, 2016) Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) is the latest journal launched by Pensoft, an open access publisher with a history of innovation. Via its digital platform, preliminary stages of the academic workflow and final research reports can be authored, reviewed and published.

RIO journal “is attractive to researchers who are genuinely interested in communicating research not just in the form of traditional research articles but in all the various and valuable outcomes of the entire research cycle”, explains Lyubomir Penev, co-founder and publisher of RIO. The journal is also designed for scientists who want to discuss research not just within their field but also within the broader research community and with the interested public. Its scope encompasses all areas of academic research, including science, technology, humanities and the social sciences. With the new journal, Pensoft intends to foster scientific exchange on ideas, proposals and other research outcomes. The company aims to promote collaborations, funding, feedback, citations and recognition.

Tailor-made publication packages

Currently, the publisher offers different publication packages costing from €430 to €4,250. These include three to fifteen publications summarising different stages of a research project from the initial ideas to the final results. For the publication of a research or review article, authors will have to pay approximately €550, for publication of a research poster about €100, and for a publication with one figure €50. Currently, RIO offers Launch Promotions to encourage the publication of early research outputs. “Any type of Research Idea or Brief Research Outcome is free until the end of April 2016”, says Penev, an Ecology Professor.

He founded Pensoft Publishers with a portfolio of open access journals focusing mainly on biodiversity, ecology and environmental sciences. Initially, the company’s goal was to bring Eastern and Western scientists together. Today, it is publishing for major institutions such as the Natural History Museum in London, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Moreover, Penev is an expert in software development for biodiversity research, computerised bibliographies, the dissemination of scientific information and web development.

Credit for referees

Reviews for articles in RIO are published in order to attract extensive input from peers before submission and after publication. Before submission, peer review can be organised by the authors. After publication it is either community-based or may be managed by the journal. “We want people to be proud of their reviews and to value their intellectual worth, thus we make them publicly available, so they can be read, critiqued and cited by others”, noted the co-founding editor Daniel Mietchen. “To ensure that reviewers get the necessary credit, RIO is working on integration with platforms specialised in peer review. For instance, if you have a Publons profile and set it to show your reviews by default, reviews you did for RIO will be displayed automatically”.

Submitted manuscripts are published within seven working days. Authors retain the copyright of their articles. By default, the content they publish is available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0). They are obliged to share all data, code or protocols underlying the research reported in their publications.

Pros and cons

Should scientists now broadcast their PhD proposals to attract scientific comments or publish a rejected grant proposal to give their idea another chance to see the light of day, with or without its author’s contribution? Caution seems advisable in the face of PhD supervisors, potential patent issues and better funded competitors. However, wouldn’t it be great to find collaborators all over the world willing to study your favourite model system or to find colleagues in major research institutions worldwide, who can make valuable contributions through offering their expertise and access to specialist equipment? But what about replication studies and projects with negative results?

“Many scientists want to publish non-traditional research outcomes, but do not have an online space that is specifically designed for it - to facilitate peer-review and expert scholarly comments”, observed the co-founding editor Ross Mounce. Since all RIO articles have a permanent publication identifier or DOI, “they can be cited more easily, listed on CVs, and be used to openly demonstrate the quality of prior work”. Since its launch last November, the journal has published several research ideas, grant proposals and a PhD project plan covering topics such as nanomaterials, clinical trials, collaborative knowledge management and software engineering. So far, the traditional publication process has neglected these scientific endeavours. However, with its publication model, RIO journal is competing with academic repositories.

RIO is particularly attractive to early-stage researchers who want to sharpen their ideas with feedback from the community, and create new contacts and opportunities for collaboration and funding”, Penev explained. Moreover, “young scientists will gain access to best practice in important aspects of the profession such as grant proposal writing, research planning, interim results presentation, science to policy communication briefs, and engaging the public”, he added.

Societal impact monitored

RIO journal places special emphasis on how research addresses the challenges of the global society as outlined in the ‘EU Societal Challenges’ and the United Nations’ ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. These include topics such as health and demographic change, food security, water research and clean and efficient energy. Thus, the journal wants to provide other scientists and students as well as funders, journalists, educators and the general public with a means to peruse publications using keywords indicating the societal impact of the presented scientific results.

Bettina Dupont

Picture: RIO journal

Last Changes: 02.29.2016