Wednesday, April 11, 2012

eLife? Don't make me eLaugh

eLife? Enough already

You may have heard about eLife, the Wellcome Trust's push towards open access science publishing. While I support the concept and the ambition, this move has one huge flaw.


I understand that the Wellcome Trust does not want to go head to head with the Government on policy, but while 80% of the supposed credit measurement in the REF panels Wellcome is involved with is determined by impact factors, eLife - which will not have one initially, then later will be far below Nature and Science - will not achieve its objectives beyond window dressing.

Wellcome - why? Just politics?

Update: I may have done eLife a disservice.


  1. Hi -

    Think you may have the wrong end of the stick here. The REF submissions will be judged on 'outputs' (i.e. quality of research papers published; assessors explicitly instructed to disregard impact factors) - 65%; 'impact' (not impact factors), which is broadly defined - 20%; and 'environment' (general vitality of the institution) - 15%.

    See p6 of:

    Don't see how this conflicts with Wellcome's plans...

  2. Let me be clear that I'm all in favour or Wellcome's plans for eLife, although I do have concerns about the impact on PLoS. But as far as REF is concerned, impact factors weren't supposed to count in the previous RAE. Sadly, I've had private conversations with panel members which put the lie to that. The solution is simple - complete transparency of REF calculations. Can't see that happening, can you?

  3. I agree but that's a separate point to the one you seemed to be making in your blog post.

    Yes - impact factors are impossible to ignore - which is why the system needs to be broken. And I think eLife could be part of the process of undermining their current hegemony (according to discussions I've had with well-placed sources).