Thursday 11 September 2014

ALPSP Awards spotlight on... Frontiers, a community-run open-access publisher and research network

Kamila Markram is co-founder and CEO of Frontiers
The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing will be announced at the conference this week. In the final post in our series about the finalists, Kamila Markram, co-Founder and CEO of Frontiers, answers questions about the Frontiers Open-Science platform.

ALPSP: Tell us a bit about your company

KM: We founded Frontiers in 2007 to enable researchers to drive open-access publishing. To achieve this, we built an Open-Science platform with innovative web tools that support researchers in every step of the publishing process. These include collaborative peer review, detailed article and author impact metrics, democratic research evaluation and social networking.

From our beginnings as a group of just a few scientists, Frontiers has evolved to be the fourth leading open-access publisher worldwide. We have published almost 24,000 articles and are on track to publish our 30,000th article before the end of 2014. Our portfolio of open-access titles is also growing rapidly: in just 7 years, we have launched 48 open-access journals across all STM fields.

ALPSP: What is the project that you submitted for the Awards? 

KM: The Frontiers Open-Science platform, which embodies our community-driven philosophy and hosts our innovative online tools to improve all aspects of reviewing, publishing, evaluating and disseminating articles.

Frontiers is a community run, open access academic publisher and research network

ALPSP: Tell us more about how it works and the team behind it. 

KM: Our growing community consists of almost 50,000 leading researchers on the editorial board and more than 100,000 authors. In Frontiers, researchers run the journals and take all editorial decisions. Behind the scenes, we have a team of 140 employees in our headquarters in Lausanne and in offices in Madrid and London. These include mainly journal managers and editorial assistants, who support our editors and authors in the publishing process, as well as software engineers who continuously develop our publishing and networking platforms. We are a highly motivated and dynamic team, of whom many hold Ph.Ds in diverse disciplines, and from many nationalities. Crucially, we all believe that science forms the basis of modern society and that we need to improve the publishing process, so that we all, researchers and society, can benefit from a discovery as quickly as possible.

ALPSP: Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation? 

KM: Our approach is unique: we work with leading researchers across all academic communities and empower them with our latest custom-built web technologies to radically improve publishing.

We introduced the novel concept of “Field Journals” – such as Frontiers in Neuroscience – which are structured around academic communities and into specialty sections, such as Neural Circuits, with their own editorial board and which can be cross-listed across journals. This modularity gives synergy between related disciplines, strengthens niche communities, and makes it easy for authors and readers to find the content that interests them.

Also central to our publishing model is the Collaborative Peer Review we introduced. It safeguards authors' rights and gives editors the mandate to accept all articles that are scientifically valid and without objective errors. The review occurs in our online Interactive Review Forum, where authors engage in discussions directly with reviewers to improve the article. It is constructive and transparent, because we publish the names of reviewers on accepted articles. This ensures high quality of reviews and articles. It works – as confirmed by our high impact factors, views and downloads. On top of that, our online platform makes the process fast – with an average review time of 84 days.

We were also the first publisher to develop, in 2008, detailed online article metrics to measure views, downloads, and shares with a breakdown of readership demographics, and we were an early adopter of a commenting system for post-publication evaluation. And we are also the only publisher that uses these article-level metrics, not only to highlight the most impactful articles as selected by thousands of expert readers, but also to translate these discoveries into “Focused Reviews” that make them more accessible to a broader readership. Post-publication evaluation at Frontiers is democratic and objective, using the collective wisdom of numerous experts.

Lastly, we are the first and only publisher to completely merge our own custom-built networking technology with an open-access platform, to raise the visibility and impact of authors and disseminate their articles more efficiently — readers are provided with articles that are the most relevant to them.

Frontiers - Open-Access Publication and Research Networking from Frontiers on Vimeo.

ALPSP: What are you plans for the future? 

KM: To keep growing, innovating and providing the best tools and service. We will continue to bring our publishing model to all STM fields, and also across the humanities and social sciences in the near future. At the same time, we are improving our networking platform, to enable even better dissemination of articles and to increase visibility and impact. Another growing initiative is Frontiers for Young Minds, a new science journal for kids. Young people – aged 8 to 15 – act as reviewers of neuroscience papers by leading scientists. It is a fun, important and engaging way to get children curious about science and let scientists reach out to a young audience. Launched less than a year ago, Frontiers for Young Minds has already been listed as one of the “Great Websites for Kids” by the American Library Association. And by popular demand, we are now about to expand the project across other fields, including astronomy, space sciences and physics. The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by Publishing Technology.

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by Publishing Technology. The winners will be announced tonight at the ALPSP International Conference Wednesday 10 - Friday 12 September, Park Inn Heathrow, London.

Follow the conversation via #alpsp14 and #alpspawards on Twitter.

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