Continuous Publication Model for Journals — Input Sought


A philosopher who will be taking over a well-known specialty journal in philosophy writes in seeking feedback on a possible change to the journal’s practices:

I am going to be taking the helm of a journal in 2017 and the publisher wants my editorial team to consider moving to the continuous publication model pioneered by the Royal Society Journals. On this model, there is no distinction between “online first” and published. Once the paper is typeset, it is published. Paper issues are still produced (for the small number of institutions and people that still get them), but they are put together by date of acceptance/typesetting. 

The most significant change is that every paper starts with page 1 and the primary identification becomes the DOI, as opposed to the more traditional year/volume/number/page citation. 

Overall, this seems like a good idea to us. Almost everyone we know uses the typeset PDFs as their authoritative sources, and the delay between online first and published therefore seems arbitrary. But obviously not many humanities journals have adopted this practice and we wouldn’t want to be doing anything that endangers hiring / tenure prospects.

Do readers have thoughts—positive or negative—about this practice?

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Syd
Syd
5 years ago

There is a positive consequence of doing this for tenure/promotion considerations. I’ve had occasions where a paper was published online first, and then not published in print until the following year. Privileging the print date actually resulted in my CV listing no papers for one year (even though the paper was published and available online that year). Given the already lengthy lag times between writing a paper and getting it in print, the “online first” model is a benefit for scholars who need to demonstrate continuous productivity.
The downside is that some journals still prefer that the print citation (not the DOI) be listed in citations, which can result in confusion. Using the online date only solves that problem. Starting every paper at page 1 also solves the problem of the online pages and print pages not corresponding (although the luddite in me doesn’t like it).Report

Steven French
Steven French
5 years ago

fwiw at the BJPS we’ve declined to take this route, principally because we want to retain the ability to put together more or less ‘balanced’ issues; i.e. that have some e.g. phil biol, phil phys, decision theory, foundations of cog sci and so on. But thats perhaps a minor point in favour, especially as more and more folk access content via e.g. Advance Access.
As for tenure/promo, here in the UK at least my impression is that having a paper appear on AA counts as published – thats certainly the case when it comes to REF submissions.Report

Ian Werkheiser
Ian Werkheiser
5 years ago

Would it be possible to follow the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective’s example? My understanding is that they’re using something like a continuous publication model, but they also assign page numbers, volumes, and dates to the articles that appear continuously. That keeps many of the advantages you’ve described, but also removes the need for potentially confusing DOI’s on the author’s CV.Report

David Velleman
David Velleman
5 years ago

Philosophers’ Imprint has been doing this for 15 years (though we don’t obtain DOIs for individual articles). We believe that it has no effect on tenure and promotion for authors.Report

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
5 years ago

I perceive no serious disadvantage to this system.

Here is a trivial disadvantage: with a pre-print issue distinction, for some purposes, authors have discretion as to when it ‘counts’. For example, in my department, faculty members compile a report of one’s research outputs over the past year each spring, and in cases like this, we get to choose, for each paper, whether to claim credit for the online date or the print date (but not both). Merit raises are tied to our performance in these reports. There are cases where one may have a strategic advantage to choose one way or the other—if I already have two solids journal article this year, it may be to my advantage to put this one off until next year, when I am more likely to need this one to get my raise. Etc. Under this scheme, authors would no longer enjoy this ability to game the system.Report

Jim Collier
Jim Collier
5 years ago

Thanks to Ian for mentioning the SERRC. Editing Social Epistemology, I’ve found that for many universities an assigned DOI number means that an article is published. Let me add that at Social Epistemology our articles appear online well before print—sometimes 12 to 18 months. Print journals are becoming archival, I think. The SERRC actively promotes the reception of Social Epistemology’s articles by promoting exchanges on, and development of, the work. Perhaps another topic for another time.Report