ESA journals and Ecology Letters will not publish papers with preprints (UPDATEDx2–ESA policy has changed)

FYI: ESA journals and Ecology Letters, in contrast to ScienceNature, PNAS, and PLoS ONE, will not publish papers previously posted to a “citable public archive outside the author’s home institution”, such as arXiv. See Jabberwocky Ecology for details.

ESA says they will be discussing their policy on this at the ESA meeting. No word on if Ecology Letters also plans to revisit their policy. (UPDATE #2: ESA policy has changed; they now allow preprints).

UPDATE: Apparently the staff writers for Nature have been following this discussion! From an article in this week’s (Aug. 2) issue, on how population geneticists are starting to use arXiv:

Some biology journals, such as those published by the Ecological Society of America in Washington DC, for example, expressly prohibit pre-publication in citable public archives.

That choice of example can hardly be a coincidence…

8 thoughts on “ESA journals and Ecology Letters will not publish papers with preprints (UPDATEDx2–ESA policy has changed)

  1. When I asked Ecology Letters for information on arXiv, Marcel Holyoak was kind enough to give me a detailed reply (which is really nice, I strongly disagree with him on this one, but at least he took the time to explain). I’m not going to publish a private email exchange but his answer was unambiguous, they’re not going to be easy to convince.

    Yet you can find at least a few Ecology Letters papers on arXiv 😛 They publish a lot of theorerical papers and it’s in the mindset of mathematicians and physicists to submit to the arXiv. It takes literally less than 5 minutes to submit to arXiv…

    • “Yet you can find at least a few Ecology Letters papers on arXiv”

      You beat me to it, I was just about search ArXiv for preprints of Ecology and EcoLetts papers. 😉

      It’s one thing to have a policy and another to enforce it. You can’t rely on self-disclosure by authors if they don’t agree with the policy, or if they’re unaware of it, or if they don’t understand it.

      I’m not at all surprised that Marcel was totally unconvinced. I expect that the ESA journals will be similarly unconvinced, though of course I could be wrong. In my admittedly-limited experience, the folks in charge of policy at both Ecology Letters and the ESA journals, are, with a few notable exceptions, extremely confident in and comfortable with their current policies. Again in my admittedly-limited experience, they tend to take outside input more as an opportunity to explain to outsiders why they do what they do, rather than as a reason to reconsider what they do. At Ecology Letters in particular, my guess would be that their policies–on anything–will change if and only if their impact factor growth stagnates. But it’s not yet so common for ecologists–even theoretical ones–to submit to ArXiv that EcoLetts is in much danger of missing out on lots of highly-cited papers.

      • Then it doesn’t look good for their future. It goes beyond arXiv, publishers are just not realizing the treat posed by PLoS, BMC, F1000Research, PeerJ.

        There would be some irony in having ecology journals die because they could not adapt to a changing landscape.

      • ESA thinks they do have a response: Ecosphere, their online-only, author-pays open access journal. I believe the fees are competitive with PLoS ONE (going by memory there). But Ecosphere lacks PLoS ONE article-level metrics, and it’s also perceived differently than ESA would like it to be perceived. ESA swears up and down that Ecosphere has the same highly-selective editorial standards as Ecology and Ecological Monographs. They insist it’s just like Ecology, except with a different financial/access model. But I don’t know anybody who regards Ecosphere as anything close to on a par with Ecology and Ecological Monographs. Your journal can only be as good as the submissions it receives, and if it’s a selective journal, only as good as the best submissions it receives. Nobody sends Ecosphere their best stuff, as far as I know (am I just totally out of touch?) I don’t know why the ESA doesn’t use Ecosphere as part of a “peer review cascade” and make it easy for authors to resubmit rejected papers from other ESA journals, along with their reviews, to Ecosphere. If they did that, and undercut PLoS ONE on fees (or maybe gave ESA members a discount sufficient to bring the price for authors significantly below PLoS ONE), I think they could have a useful repository-type journal and a nice revenue stream. Right now I don’t know that they have either.

      • Jeremy says:

        ESA swears up and down that Ecosphere has the same highly-selective editorial standards as Ecology and Ecological Monographs. They insist it’s just like Ecology, except with a different financial/access model.

        If this is true, it just makes me wonder, why would the ESA bother setting up an entirely new journal, with all the risks (some of which you touch on above), just to provide a different income model? Is it really so awkward to incorporate a hybrid model into ESA journals? Regardless of one’s views of the ethics of hybrid subscription costs, other journals seem to think it’s a viable system to set up.

        Or perhaps the ESA have clear views about the ethics of hybrid subscription costs and this is their way of avoiding those problems? If so, thumbs up from me!

  2. Pingback: The future of Ecosphere the journal: a suggestion « Jabberwocky Ecology | Weecology's Blog

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