Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MBE preprint policy

A follow-up:

In May, I wrote a letter to the SMBE council, requesting that they please consider allowing review of manuscripts that have also been submitted to preprint servers, such as the arXiv.

This came about because discussions on twitter suggested that the journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE) would refuse to review any paper that had previously been submitted to a preprint server. I was surprised to hear it, sent an inquiry to the Society. Turns out, it was true.

So, I wrote a letter detailing why I, as a Society member, would like to see our Society accept manuscripts for review that have also been submitted to preprint servers, at both MBE and GBE (Genome Biology and Evolution).

To my amazement, I was invited to comment on the suggested policy for MBE!

At the annual Society meeting in July it was announced that MBE will allow articles that have been submitted to a preprint server to be reviewed! As I understand it, the stipulation will be that articles submitted to a preprint server will be required to choose (and pay for) the "Open Access" option. I would do this anyway, as I suspect many preprint submitters would (or I hope that they would).

The main MBE website now links to the very detailed Oxford Press, "Author Self-Archiving Policy."

At the conference, I had some enlightening discussions with people who are not advocates of open access, and do not see the value in the arXiv. I was also surprised to learn that some thought my letter was a political move (?), and, perhaps less surprised to learn that there were concerns that I would publish private email responses for the public to see. Personally, I will always assume a conversation is private unless there is a mutual decision to make it public (or if it is abusive, and needs to be reported). But, do I understand and respect concerns about privacy. However, with it comes to scientific research and methods, my opinion is:

The more accessible and transparent the better.

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