Update: Here’s the Official News Release
First issue expected one year from now (Summer 2012).
Three heavyweight, nongovernmental funders of science announced today that they are launching a free online biology journal aimed at publishing the very best papers within a few weeks of submission. But few confirmed details are available about the journal, which doesn’t yet have a name, editor, publisher, or business model.
Two biomedical research charities, the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in the United States, have joined together with the Max Planck Society in Germany to launch the journal. At a briefing today in London, Wellcome Trust Director Mark Walport explained that after holding a workshop with scientists last year, the organizations decided there was “a niche” for a new kind of journal. It will “attract the absolute top tier of scientific publications” and will be “not just for the community of people that we fund, it is for scientists at large,” he said.
One problem the online-only journal hopes to avoid is the slow review process at many existing journals. The new journal hopes to review papers within 3 to 4 weeks and limit requests for more experiments, said HHMI president Robert Tjian. “We’re not going to go through endless iterations of nitpicking,” said Walport.
The journal will be open access, meaning that articles will be freely available online the moment they are published. But while most open access journals cover costs by charging authors up to $3000 per paper, the new journal will not charge so-called author fees “for a number of years,” Walport said. He confirmed rumors of another unusual feature: the journal is considering whether to pay reviewers. One person familiar with the discussions told Science reviewers might get paid increasingly smaller amounts, the longer they took.