Monday, December 03, 2012


Another Saturday night. I'm sitting watching a film when an idea pops into my head.
I recently wrote that:
The general feeling was that the rise of megajournals is inevitable, and that specialist journals cannot survive economically. The new business model for boutique journals (such as Annals of Botany) might be to apply the brand (expertise, editorial board) widely across many platforms, becoming a metajournal. When? Difficult to say, but the event horizon is within 20 years (and might be much sooner)
I suppose I was post-processing that idea, and a Twitter conversation with Gary Foster and Paul Hoskinsson last week. So here it is:

Metabiology Metabiology, a biology metajournal created by a band of editors. No original submissions, content comes from existing open access peer reviewed journals (including post-publication peer review). Editors add a metalayer of commentary to the original publications, filter into streams, which is what people seem to want. It's a bit like one of the big tech blogs but based on peer-reviewed content from the megajournals (and any of the boutique journals which are OA and survive).

What's the business plan?
I'm an ideas guy not a money guy, but generating sufficient income for sustainability is vital. That's why this is a biology journal not an education journal (like Martin Weller's Meta Ed Tech journal). In this case the money comes from meta advertising, for example Digital Science's 1DegreeBio or Scrazzl. This would be semi-semantic and targeted by data mining.

How is this different from F1000?
It's free and it's open. All the content can be read by everybody. If it's not OA it's not there. CC-BY.

So are you actually going to do this?
It depends what you mean by "do". If you mean do I want to be a managing editor for a journal, no. I would be interested in advising or having a curation role. In many ways this is what I have been doing for the last six years at MicrobiologyBytes. I have no plans to go it alone with this, I don't think it would be any more sustainable than Meta Ed Tech.
I was thinking about pitching it to Digital Science, but I decided to blog about it first. If anyone from Digital Science (or anyone else) is interested, let me know.


  1. Well, I don't want to say I told you so, but I told you so. I think give this about 2 years and an American will have the idea & everyone will get excited about it.
    I can't understand why more people aren't doing it already.

  2. Because it's a lot of work and the benefits are not immediately obvious. "Everyone" will do it when there is a sustainable model, both economically and in terms of academic rationale.

  3. Actually I'm due one now. You are right in that a team would be better. I asked for volunteers but no takers. I think it would be a good thing for a society to do, eg Alt-C. But it's tough for those of us first through the wall...