Vegetation Classification and Survey featured by Web of Science four years after its launch

Vegetation Classification and Survey will soon receive its very first Journal Impact Factor.

Only four years after the inaugural editorial by Prof Dr Florian Jansen, Dr Idoia Biurrun, Prof Dr Jürgen Dengler and Dr Wolfgang Willner that officialised the third and still youngest scientific journal of the International Association of Vegetation Science (IAVS), the Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS) journal successfully completed the rigorous quality and integrity assessment at Web of Science (WoS).

Late May 2024 saw the whole content ever published in VCS added to the Core Collection of the renowned academic platform, further boosting its discoverability, accessibility and reliability to researchers and other stakeholders alike, confirms the Indexing team of Pensoft and the ARPHA scholarly publishing platform.

“Many thanks to IAVS as owner and Pensoft as publisher, who made this success story possible. However, most of all, this early inclusion into the Web of Science Core Edition is due to the good articles of our authors and the great volunteer service our Associate Editors, Guest Editors, Linguistic Editors, Editorial Review Board members, and other reviewers did and do for VCS,”

the Chief Editors comment on the latest success.

The news means that VCS is soon to receive its very first Journal Impact Factor (JIF): allegedly the most popular and sought after journal-level metric, which annually releases the citation (or “impact”) rate of a given scholarly journal over the last period. By the end of next month, for example, we will know how different journals indexed by WoS have performed compared to each other, based on the number of citations received in 2023 (from other journals indexed by WoS) for papers published in 2021 and 2022 combined.

In 2022, VCS and its all-time publications were also featured by the largest and similarly acclaimed scientific database: Scopus, thus receiving its very first Scopus CiteScore* last June. At 2.0, the result instantly gave a promise of the widely appreciated content published in the journal.

In an editorial, published in the beginning of 2024, the Chief Editors assessed the performance of the journal and analysed the available data from Scopus to predict the citation rates for the journal in the next few years. There, the team also compared the journal’s latest performance with similar journals, including the other two journals owned by the IAVS (i.e. Applied Vegetation Science and Journal of Vegetation Science). Given that as of May 2024 the Scopus CiteScoreTracker for VCS reads 2.5, their optimistic forecasts seem rather realistic.

“The VCS articles of 2023 were on average even better cited than those in Applied Vegetation Science of the same year and had reached about the same level as Journal of Vegetation Science and Biodiversity and Conservation,”

they concluded.

In a recent post, published on the IAVS blog, on behalf of the four VCS Chief Editors, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Dengler further comments on the latest achievements of the journal, while also highlighting particularly valued recent publications.

The team also uses the occasion to invite experts in the field of vegetation science to submit their manuscripts in 2024 to make use of the generous financial support by the IAVS. Given the increasing interest in VCS, the journal also invites additional linguistic editors, as well as reviewers who wish to join the Editorial Review Board.

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Keep yourself updated with news from Vegetation Classification and Survey on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook. You can also follow IAVS on X and join the Association’s public group on Facebook

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*Note that the Scopus database features a different selection of scientific journals compared to Web of Science to estimate citation metrics. The indexers are also using different formulae, where the former looks into citations made in the last two complete years for eligible papers published in the same years.

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About Vegetation Classification and Survey:

Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS) is an international, peer-reviewed, online journal on plant community ecology published on behalf of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS). It is devoted to vegetation survey and classification at any organisational and spatial scale and without restriction to certain methodological approaches.

The scope of VCS is focused on vegetation typologies and vegetation classification systems, their methodological foundation, their development and their application. The journal publishes original papers that develop new typologies as well as applied studies that use such typologies, for example, in vegetation mapping, ecosystem modelling, nature conservation, land use management, or monitoring. Particularly encouraged are methodological studies that design and compare tools for vegetation classification and mapping, such as algorithms, databases and nomenclatural principles, or are dealing with the conceptual and theoretical bases of vegetation survey and classification. 

VCS also includes two permanent collections (or sections): “Ecoinformatics” and “Phytosociological Nomenclature”. 

About Pensoft:

Pensoft is an independent, open-access publisher and technology provider, best known for its biodiversity journals, including ZooKeys, Biodiversity Data Journal, Phytokeys, Mycokeys, One Ecosystem, Metabarcoding and Metagenomics and many others. To date, the company has continuously been working on various tools and workflows designed to facilitate biodiversity data findability, accessibility, discoverability and interoperability.

About ARPHA Platform:

Pensoft publishes its journals on its self-developed ARPHA publishing platform: an end-to-end, narrative- and data-integrated publishing solution that supports the full life cycle of a manuscript, from authoring to reviewing, publishing and dissemination. ARPHA provides accomplished and streamlined production workflows that can be heavily customised by client journals not necessarily linked to Pensoft as a publisher, since ARPHA is specially targeted at learned societies, research institutions and university presses. The platform enables a variety of publishing models through a number of options for branding, production and revenue models. Alongside its elaborate and highly automated publishing tools and services, ARPHA provides a range of human-provided services, such as science communication and assistance in indexation at databases like Web of Science and Scopus, to provide a complete full-featured publishing solution package.

Brand new journal Estuarine Management and Technologies streamlines innovation in ecosystems conservation

There has been an increasing need to support the exchange of research related to the conservation and sustainable management of estuarine ecosystems by means of new-age technologies and approaches.

Where freshwater rivers meet seas and oceans lies a scientifically intriguing and ecologically important type of ecosystem. As estuarine ecosystems provide various and diverse services to humanity and the planet at large, including food security and natural buffers and filters in the events of storms and water pollution, there has been an increasing need to facilitate and support the exchange of research findings and ideas related to their conservation and sustainable management by means of new-age technology and novel approaches.

This is how a team of renowned and passionate scientists, headed by Dr. Soufiane Haddout (Ibn Tofail University, Morocco), took the decision to launch a brand new open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly, aptly titled Estuarine Management and Technologies. They explain the rationale behind the journal in a new editorial, published to mark the official launch of the journal.

Having already worked closely with the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft on the fine touches of the concept of the new academic title, the team opted to use Pensoft’s publishing platform of ARPHA. As a result, the new journal provides a seamless, end-to-end publishing experience, encompassing all stages between manuscript submission and article publication, indexation, dissemination and permanent archiving. 

Within the collaboration between the journal’s and Pensoft’s teams, Estuarine Management and Technologies will take advantage of various services offered by the ARPHA platform, including full-text automated export in machine-readable and minable JATS-XML format to over 60 relevant databases for scientific literature and data; semantically enriched and multimedia-friendly publications accessible in HTML; and rich statistics about the outreach and usage of each published article and its elements (e.g. figures and tables), including views, downloads, online mentions, and citations. 

The publishing platform’s in-house indexing team will continue their close work with the journal’s editors to ensure that the scholarly outlet retains highest quality and integrity, so that it covers the criteria for indexation at additional key databases that require individual evaluation. In the meantime, ARPHA’s technical and editorial teams will provide technical and customer support to authors, editors and reviewers. The marketing and promotion team of ARPHA will be also joining forces with the journal to boost the visibility and image of the new academic title.

During the launch phase, content accepted for publication following double-blinded peer review will be made public right away for free to both authors and readers, where the journal will be operating under a continuous publication model.

Estuarine Management and Technologies welcomes studies from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and hydrology, with a focus on interdisciplinarity, multifaceted approaches and holistic perspectives.

“One crucial aspect of estuarine management is the sustainable use of resources to balance conservation with human needs. Striking this delicate equilibrium requires a holistic understanding of the intricate web of ecological interactions within estuarine environments. Advanced technologies, such as isotopic techniques, environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, can provide insights into the biodiversity of estuarine ecosystems with unprecedented precision,”

explain Dr Haddout and his colleagues in the opening editorial.

Amongst the unique features of the new journal are several additional publication types, such as Expert View, Video Paper, Rapid Communication, Mini Review and Estuarine Scientists, where these have been added to traditional publication outputs (e.g. Research Paper, Review Paper, Data Paper) to foster collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders in the field.

The journal is also running an annual Trailblazing Talent in Estuarine Management and Technologies award intended to recognise and encourage young scientists and engineers at the forefront of cutting-edge research in estuarine management and technologies. Nominations and applications are currently open.

Estuarine Management and Technologies also welcomes applications for guest editors in order to further expand the journal and its immediate expert network.

“I am delighted to see the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal already live on the ARPHA platform. We are confident that this particularly important, yet so far quite overlooked area of study will greatly benefit from this highly promising journal,”

says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

“I am pleased to announce the launch of the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal on ARPHA, a decision rooted in our commitment to advancing the field. We believe that this strategic partnership will not only enhance the visibility and accessibility of our journal, but will also foster collaboration and innovation within the estuarine management and technologies community. We expect this alliance to be a catalyst for scholarly excellence, providing a robust platform for researchers and practitioners to share insights, address challenges, and propel the field forward. Together with ARPHA, we are confident in the positive impact our journal will have on shaping the future of estuarine management and technologies.”

says Dr. Soufiane Haddout, Editor-in-Chief and founder, Estuarine Management and Technologies.

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You can visit the journal website and sign up for its newsletter from the homepage.

You can also follow Estuarine Management and Technologies on X (formerly Twitter).

Novel bacteria identification methods might help speed up disease diagnosis

The technique, applied on turtle skin in this study, allows for the rapid detection of Pseudomonas bacteria, which can cause various human diseases.

Why is it important to study bacteria?

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterial strain that can be responsible for several human diseases: the most serious include malignant external otitis, endophthalmitis, endocarditis, meningitis, pneumonia, and septicemia.

The environments in which these bacteria are most frequently found include soil, plants, and water. They can even be found on human and animal skin, without causing illness, in a process known as bacterial colonisation. Microbiological research can help establish the cause of certain infectious diseases, making it easier to choose the best treatment. This is why it is important to find a quick and easy way to identify these bacteria. A new study, published in the open-access journal BioRisk, explored this by applying spectroscopic techniques for quick analysis directly from an object, which, in this case, was turtle skin.

Sampling of biological material from turtle skin before further microbiological analysis and Raman spectroscopy. Credit Inta Umbraško

“Microbial organisms play key roles in animal health and ecology. The European pond turtle often lives in city Zoo gardens and private houses. Often, the most commonly found bacteria from turtle skin surfaces was Pseudomonas species,” says Aleksandrs Petjukevics of Daugavpils University, whose team conducted the study.

What is Raman spectroscopy?

“Classical microbiological research techniques have several disadvantages: first of all, it is a rather lengthy process. The minimum period is 3-4 days, but many days and even weeks may pass before the isolated pathogen is accurately identified, and it uses expensive chemicals and resources,” says Aleksandrs Petjukevics. As an alternative, spectrometry makes it possible to identify a prepared sample of a microorganism while reducing the identification time to 5-30 minutes.

Renishaw inVia Raman Microscope. Credit Inta Umbraško 

Raman spectra represent an ensemble of signals that arise from the molecular vibrations of individual cell components of gram-negative bacteria, integrating over proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. “This non-destructive chemical analysis technique provides detailed information about chemical structure, phase and polymorphy, crystallinity, and molecular interactions. It is based on the interaction of light with the chemical bonds within a material,” he says.

Research results and implications

The study’s findings showed that Pseudomonas bacteria can be quickly identified using this detection technology, with excellent analytical and diagnostic sensitivity, making it a dependable technique.

Unlike other methods, this technique does not require long-term bacterial sample preparation and expensive reagents, which makes it promising for studying other strains of bacteria.

“This study demonstrated the ability to obtain fast and high-quality Raman spectra of bacterial cells using vibrational spectroscopy,” says Aleksandrs Petjukevics. “Raman spectroscopy can be considered an express method for identifying microorganisms. It holds great potential for future research involving different microorganisms.”

Research article: 

Petjukevičs A, Umbraško I, Škute N (2023) Prospects and possibilities of using Raman spectroscopy for the identification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from turtle Emys orbicularis (Linnaeus, 1758) skin. BioRisk 21: 19-28. https://doi.org/10.3897/biorisk.21.111983

A decade of empowering biodiversity science: celebrating 10 years of Biodiversity Data Journal

Together, we have redefined scientific communication, and we will continue to push the boundaries of knowledge.

Today, 16 September 2023, we are celebrating our tenth anniversary: an important milestone that has prompted us to reflect on the incredible journey that Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ) has been through.

From the very beginning, our mission was clear: to revolutionise the way biodiversity data is shared, accessed, and harnessed. This journey has been one of innovation, collaboration, and a relentless commitment to making biodiversity data FAIR – Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.

Over the past 10 years, BDJ, under the auspices of our esteemed publisher Pensoft, has emerged as a trailblazing force in biodiversity science. Our open-access platform has empowered researchers from around the world to publish comprehensive papers that seamlessly blend text with morphological descriptions, occurrences, data tables, and more. This holistic approach has enriched the depth of research articles and contributed to the creation of an interconnected web of biodiversity information.

In addition, by utilising ARPHA Writing Tool and ARPHA Platform as our entirely online manuscript authoring and submission interface, we have simplified the integration of structured data and narrative, reinforcing our commitment to simplifying the research process.

One of our most significant achievements is democratising access to biodiversity data. By dismantling access barriers, we have catalysed the emergence of novel research directions, equipping scientists with the tools to combat critical global challenges such as biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, and climate fluctuations.

We firmly believe that data should be openly accessible to all, fostering collaboration and accelerating scientific discovery. By upholding the FAIR principles, we ensure that the datasets accompanying our articles are not only discoverable and accessible, but also easy to integrate and reusable across diverse fields.

As we reflect on the past decade, we are invigorated by the boundless prospects on the horizon. We will continue working on to steer the global research community towards a future where biodiversity data is open, accessible, and harnessed to tackle global challenges.

Ten years of biodiversity research

To celebrate our anniversary, we have curated some of our most interesting and memorable BDJ studies from the past decade.

  • Recently, news outlets were quick to cover a new species of ‘snug’ published in our journal.
  • This Golden Retriever trained to monitor hermit beetle larvae proved once again the incredible capabilities of our canine friends.
Teseo, the Golden Retriever monitoring hermit beetle larvae
  • Who could forget this tiny fly named after the former Governor of California?
  • Or this snail named after climate activist Greta Thunberg?
Craspedotropis gretathunbergae

New discoveries are always exciting, but some of our favourite research focuses on formerly lost species, back where they belong.

  • Like the griffon vulture, successfully reintroduced to Bulgaria after fifty years.

Citizen science has shown time and time again that it holds an important position in biodiversity research.

  • This group, for example, who found a beetle the size of a pinhead in Borneo.
“Life Beneath the Ice”, a short musical film about light and life beneath the Antarctic sea-ice by Dr. Emiliano Cimoli

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our authors, reviewers, readers, and the entire biodiversity science community for being integral parts of this transformative journey. Together, we have redefined scientific communication, and we will continue to push the boundaries of knowledge.

Follow BDJ on social media:

Pensoft’s statement on the European Union’s Conclusions on OA scholarly publishing

We are firm supporters of healthy competition that drives innovation and revolutionary technologies, while supporting freedom of choice.

On behalf of Pensoft Publishers, we express our support for the Conclusions on high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, recently published by the Council of the European Union. We do share all concerns articulated in the document that highlight major inequities and outstanding issues in the scholarly publishing environment.

In our opinion, it is of utmost importance to promptly address the existing issues in the publishing system, where healthy competition can thrive and contribute to a reality safe from potential mono-/oligopolies and corporate capture.

We firmly believe that only an industry that leaves room for variously-scaled pioneers and startups is capable of leading a long-awaited shift to a high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing landscape aligning with the principles of FAIRness.

Yet, we shall acknowledge that the industry has so far failed to eradicate the most fundamental flaw of the past. In the beginning, the main aim of the Open Access (OA) movement was removing the barrier to access to publicly funded scientific knowledge and scrapping costly subscription fees.

Recently, however, the industry’s biggest players merely replaced it with a barrier to publication by introducing costly Article Processing Charges (APCs) and “big deals” signed between top commercial publishers and academic institutions or national library consortia. 

As a result, small and middle-sized open-access publishers, which have, ironically, been the ones to lead the change and transition to OA by default and oppose the large commercial publishers’ agenda, were effectively pushed out of the scene. Further, we are currently witnessing a situation where OA funds are mostly going to the ones who used to oppose OA.

So, we strongly support measures that ensure an inclusive and FAIR competition, which could in turn prompt quality, sustainability and reasonable pricing in scholarly publishing. In our opinion, an environment like this would actually foster equality and equity amongst all publishers, either small, large, non-profit, commercial, institutional or society-based. 

One of the main points of the conclusions is a recommendation for a general use of the Diamond OA model, where no charges apply to either researchers or readers. While we fully support the Diamond OA model, we wish to stress on the fact that considerable concerns about the sustainability of existing Diamond OA models remain.

On the one hand, there are OA agreements (also known as read-and-publish, publish-and-read, transformative agreements etc.), typically signed between top publishers and top research institutions/consortia. This OA model is often mistakenly referred to as “Diamond OA”, since authors affiliated with those institutions are not concerned with providing the APC payment – either by paying themselves or applying for funding. Instead, the APCs are paid centrally. Most often, however, journals published by those publishers are still directly charging authors who are not members of the signed institutions with, in our opinion, excessive APCs. Even if those APCs are covered by a signed institution, these are still considerable funds that are being navigated away from actual research work. 

On the other hand, there are independent researchers, in addition to smaller or underfunded institutions, typically – yet far from exclusively – located in the developing world, who are effectively being discriminated against. 

In conclusion, this type of contracts are shutting away smaller actors from across academia just like they used to be under the subscription-based model. Hereby, we wish to express our full agreement with the Council of the European Union’s conclusion, that “it is essential to avoid situations where researchers are limited in their choice of publication channels due to financial capacities rather than quality criteria”.

There are also several alternative OA models designed to lessen the burden of publication costs for both individual researchers, libraries and journal owners. However, each comes with its own drawbacks. Here – we believe – is where the freedom of choice is perhaps most needed, in order to keep researchers’ and publishers’  best interests at heart. 

One of those alternatives is open-source publishing platforms, which – by design – are well-positioned to deliver actual Diamond OA for journals, while maintaining independence from commercial publishers. However, the operational model of this type of publishing and hosting platforms would most often only provide a basic infrastructure for editors to publish and preserve content. As a result, the model might require extra staff and know-how, while remaining prone to human errors. Additionally, a basic technological infrastructure could impede the FAIRness of the published output, which demands advanced and automated workflows to appropriately format, tag semantically and export scientific outputs promptly after publication.

Similarly, large funders and national consortia have put their own admirable efforts to step up and provide another option for authors of research and their institutions. Here, available funds are allocated to in-house Diamond OA publishing platforms that have originally been designed according to the policies and requirements of the respective funding programme or state. However, this type of support – while covering a large group of authors (e.g. based in a certain country, funded under a particular programme, and/or working in a specific research field) – still leaves many behind, including multinational or transdisciplinary teams. Additionally, due to the focus on ‘mass supply’, most of these OA publishing platforms have so far been unable to match their target user base with the appropriate scale of services and support.

What we have devised and developed at Pensoft with the aim to contribute to the pool of available choices is an OA publishing model, whose aim is to balance cost affordability, functionality, reliability, transparency and long-term sustainability. 

To do so, we work with journal owners, institutions and societies to create their own business and operational model for their journals that matches two key demands of the community: (1) free to read and free to publish OA model, and, (2) services and infrastructure suited for Diamond OA at a much lower cost, compared to those offered by major commercial publishers.

In our opinion, independent small publishers differentiate from both large commercial publishers and publicly funded providers by relying to a greater extent on innovative technology and close employee collaboration.

As a result, they are capable of delivering significantly more customisable solutions – including complete packages of automated and human-provided services – and, ultimately, achieving considerably lower-cost publishing solutions. Likewise, they might be better suited to provide much more flexible business models, so that libraries and journal owners can easily support (subsets of or all) authors to the best of their capabilities.

While we realise that there is no faultless way to high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, we are firm supporters of an environment, where healthy competition prompts the continuous invention and evolution of tools and workflows

Our own motivation to invest in scholarly publishing technology and its continuous refinement and advancement, coupled with a number of in-house and manually provided services, which is reflected in our APC policies, aligns with the Council’s statement that “scientific practices for ensuring reproducibility, transparency, sharing, rigour and collaboration are important means of achieving a publishing system responsive to the challenges of democratic, modern and digitalised societies.”

Our thinking is that – much like in any other industry – what drives innovation and revolutionary technologies is competition. To remain healthy and even self-policing, however, this competition needs to embrace transparency, equity and inclusivity.

Last, but not least, researchers need to have the freedom to choose from plenty of options when deciding where and how to publish their work!

Beware of scientific scams! Tips to avoid predatory publishing in biological journals

Predatory publishing has been growing exponentially, with severe consequences for society and the environment.

Guest blog post by Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Gabriela França Fernandes, and Walisson Kenedy Siqueira

We are bombarded day and night with slot-machine invitations from journals, books, and events such as congresses and lectures. Predatory publishing has reached alarming levels in biology, which is why we published an editorial in the journal Neotropical Biology and Conservation to alert the community, show the modus operandi of these publishers, and pass on good practices so that researchers, especially beginners, can escape this trap.

Piggybacking on the open access movement, numerous predatory publishers have emerged in search of easy profits. These cybercriminals take advantage of the publish-or-perish culture without providing any information about their peer-review protocols, concerned not with the scientific, bibliographic, or ethical aspects of publishing, but with the money received from authors.

The number of predatory publishers has grown exponentially in recent years and spread across all areas of knowledge, including biology. It is a common practice of these journals, often with an equally fake editorial staff, to send electronic invitations to potential authors to publish articles. These invitations are often facilitated by initial screenings of the emails of corresponding authors available on the internet. The emailed invitations from the supposed editors often stress that the author’s work is sound and, since it has already gone through the scrutiny of the editorial board, requires only the payment of a fee to publish it, with no need for further peer review.

Invitations to join the editorial board of these journals are also frequent, mostly intended to take advantage of the scientists’ prestige. Instead of editing articles, these invited editors are used as poster boys, i.e., they have their names published on the journal’s website, thus attracting unsuspecting authors to submit their manuscripts.

These journals are generally not included in the directory of open access journals (DOAJ) and are not indexed in the main bibliometric databases, such as Google Scholar, SciELO, Scopus, and Web of Science, for the simple reason that they do not meet their inclusion criteria. The websites of these journals often have little information about the editorial board, have a fake International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), lack transparency regarding their scope, provide no indication of a policy of retraction, have no transparency regarding copyright transfer, and provide very vague contact information, often omitting the address of the journal’s office.

In addition to papers, there are also invitations to publish books and book chapters with fake International Standard Book Numbers and dubious editorial boards. There is also a flood of invitations to predatory meetings, such as online conferences, symposia, workshops, and lectures. These often have websites that are equally confusing and never linked to a university or a postgraduate program. Above all, one should consult advisors, supervisors, or senior colleagues about the invitation and the sender’s academic reputation. In any case, one must pay attention not only to the citation metrics but also, mainly, to their editorial board, ISSN, ISBN, contact information, and relationships with recognized institutions.

When we analyze the impacts of predatory publishing on the scientific community, the worst problems are:

  • the dissemination of erroneous information about scientific problems of interest
  • the facilitation of plagiarism
  • the waste of public resources intended for publication
  • the appointment of researchers at universities and research institutes based on curricula full of doubtful publications, generating negative cascading effects that undermine higher education as a whole.

The damage done to society can be even worse. Governments, large companies, and decision-makers can be misled by false information, resulting in attitudes that undermine responses to major human problems such as climate change, biodiversity, and pandemics.

Efforts to fight predatory publishers require collaboration and support at higher levels. Governments need to create regulatory agencies that carefully and systematically evaluate the activities carried out by scientific journals. Science funding agencies should require that publication fees be paid only to publishers that adhere to an internationally recognized set of transparency and ethical rules. We need to discuss our values and incentives in the academic community, so we can start prioritizing quality over quantity. This would provide a reference point for research, help design coherent interventions, and improve information and public policy in favor of society and the environment.

Reference:

Pereira CC, Mello MAR, Negreiros D, Figueiredo JCG, Kenedy-Siqueira W, Maia LR, Fernandes S, Fernandes GFC, Ponce de Leon A, Ashworth L, Oki Y, de Castro GC, Aguilar R, Fearnside PM, Fernandes GW (2023) Beware of scientific scams! Hints to avoid predatory publishing in biological journals. Neotropical Biology and Conservation 18(2): 97-105. https://doi.org/10.3897/neotropical.18.e108887

Pensoft among the first 27 publishers to share prices & services via the Journal Comparison Service by Plan S

All journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.

In support of transparency and openness in scholarly publishing and academia, the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft joined the Journal Comparison Service (JCS) initiative by cOAlition S, an alliance of national funders and charitable bodies working to increase the volume of free-to-read research. 

As a result, all journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.

The JCS was launched to aid libraries and library consortia – the ones negotiating and participating in Open Access agreements with publishers – by providing them with everything they need to know in order to determine whether the prices charged by a certain journal are fair and corresponding to the quality of the service. 

According to cOAlition S, an increasing number of libraries and library consortia from Europe, Africa, North America, and Australia have registered with the JCS over the past year since the launch of the portal in September 2021.

While access to the JCS is only open to librarians, individual researchers may also make use of the data provided by the participating publishers and their journals. 

This is possible through an integration with the Journal Checker Tool, where researchers can simply enter the name of the journal of interest, their funder and affiliation (if applicable) to check whether the scholarly outlet complies with the Open Access policy of the author’s funder. A full list of all academic titles that provide data to the JCS is also publicly available. By being on the list means a journal and its publisher do not only support cOAlition S, but they also demonstrate that they stand for openness and transparency in scholarly publishing.

“We are delighted that Pensoft, along with a number of other publishers, have shared their price and service data through the Journal Comparison Service. Not only are such publishers demonstrating their commitment to open business models and cultures but are also helping to build understanding and trust within the research community.”

said Robert Kiley, Head of Strategy at cOAlition S. 

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About cOAlition S:

On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles. Read more on the cOAlition S website.

About Plan S:

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. Read more on the cOAlition S website.

Pensoft’s ARPHA Publishing Platform integrates with OA Switchboard to streamline reporting to funders of open research

By the time authors open their inboxes to the message their work is online, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.

Image credit: OA Switchboard.

By the time authors – who have acknowledged third-party financial support in their research papers submitted to a journal using the Pensoft-developed publishing platform: ARPHA – open their inboxes to the congratulatory message that their work has just been published and made available to the wide world, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.

This automated workflow is already in effect at all journals (co-)published by Pensoft and those published under their own imprint on the ARPHA Platform, as a result of the new partnership with the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, while making things simpler for everyone involved.

All the submitting author needs to do to ensure that their research funder receives a notification about the publication is to select the supporting agency or the scientific project (e.g. a project supported by Horizon Europe) in the manuscript submission form, using a handy drop-down menu. In either case, the message will be sent to the funding body as soon as the paper is published in the respective journal.

“At Pensoft, we are delighted to announce our integration with the OA Switchboard, as this workflow is yet another excellent practice in scholarly publishing that supports transparency in research. Needless to say, funding and financing are cornerstones in scientific work and scholarship, so it is equally important to ensure funding bodies are provided with full, prompt and convenient reports about their own input.”

comments Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

 

“Research funders are one of the three key stakeholder groups in OA Switchboard and are represented in our founding partners. They seek support in demonstrating the extent and impact of their research funding and delivering on their commitment to OA. It is great to see Pensoft has started their integration with OA Switchboard with a focus on this specific group, fulfilling an important need,”

adds Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director of the OA Switchboard.

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About the OA Switchboard:

A global not-for-profit and independent intermediary established in 2020, the OA Switchboard provides a central hub for research funders, institutions and publishers to exchange OA-related publication-level information. Connecting parties and systems, and streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of metadata, the OA Switchboard provides direct, indirect and community benefits: simplicity and transparency, collaboration and interoperability, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

About Pensoft:

Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for its novel cutting-edge publishing tools, workflows and methods for text and data publishing of journals, books and conference materials.

All journals (co-)published by Pensoft are hosted on Pensoft’s full-featured ARPHA Publishing Platform and published in a way that ensures their content is as FAIR as possible, meaning that it is effortlessly readable, discoverable, harvestable, citable and reusable by both humans and machines.

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Celebrating 30 years of scholarly publishing at Pensoft!

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pensoft, we are asking ourselves: What’s a tree without its roots? Here, we’ll tell you the story of Pensoft.

On this occasion full of sweet memories, we are also inviting you to complete this 3-minute survey. We would deeply appreciate your invaluable feedback!

It was in late 1992 when biologist and ecologist Prof Dr Lyubomir Penev in a collaboration with his friend Prof. Sergei Golovatch established Pensoft: a scholarly publisher with the ambition to contribute to novel and even revolutionary methods in academic publishing by applying its own approach to how science is published, shared and used. Inspired by the world’s best practices in the field, Pensoft would never cease to view the issues and gaps in scholarly publishing in line with its slogan: “by scientists, for scientists”.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pensoft, we are asking ourselves: What’s a tree without its roots? 

That’s why we’ve put up an attractive timeline of Pensoft’s milestones on our website, and complemented it with some key figures, in an attempt to translate those years into numbers. Yet, one can say only that much in figures. Below, we’ll give a bit more context and background about Pensoft’s key milestones.

1994: Pensoft publishes its first book & book series

In time for New Year’s Day in 1994, we published the first book bearing the name of Pensoft. The catalogue of the sheet weaver spiders (Lyniphiidae) of Northern Asia did not only set the beginning of the publishing activities of Pensoft, but also started the extensive Pensoft Series Faunistica, which continues to this day, and currently counts over 120 titles.

2003: Pensoft joins its first EU-funded research project 

By 2003, we were well-decided to expand our activities toward participation in collaborative, multinational projects, thereby building on our mission to shed light and communicate the latest scientific work done. 

By participating in the FP6-funded project ALARM (abbreviation for Assessing LArge-scale environmental Risks with tested Methods), coordinated by Dr. Joseph Settele from  the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany), we would start contributing to the making of science itself in close collaboration with another 67 institutions from across Europe. Our role at ALARM during the five years of the duration of the project was to disseminate and communicate the project outcome. At the end of the project, we also produced the highly appreciated within the community Atlas of Biodiversity Risk. 

As for today, 19 years later, Pensoft has taken part in 40 research projects as a provider of various services ranging from data & knowledge management and next-generation open access publishing; to communication, dissemination and (web)design; to stakeholder engagement; consultations; and event and project management. 

Our project activities culminated last year, when we became the coordinator of a large and exciting BiCIKL project, dedicated to access to and linking of biodiversity data along the entire data and research life cycle. 

2008: Pensoft launches its first scholarly journal to revolutionise & accelerate biodiversity research

Website: https://zookeys.pensoft.net/

Openly accessible and digital-first since the very start, the ZooKeys journal was born on a sunny morning in California during the Entomological Society of America meeting in 2007, when Prof Lyubomir Penev and his renowned colleague Dr Terry Erwin from the Smithsonian Institution agreed over breakfast that zoologists from around the world could indeed use a new-age taxonomic journal. What the community at the time was missing was a scholarly outlet that would not only present a smooth fast track for their research papers, while abiding by the highest and most novel standards in the field, but do so freely and openly to any reader at any time and in any place. Fast forward to 2021, ZooKeys remains the most prolific open-access journal in zoology.

With over 1,100 volumes published to date, ZooKeys is one of our most renowned journals with its own curious and intriguing history. You can find more about it in the celebratory blog post we published on the occasion of the journal’s 1,000th volume in late 2020.

At the time of writing, Pensoft has 21 journals under its own belt, co-publishes another 16, and provides its self-developed journal management platform ARPHA to another 35 scholarly outlets.

2010a: Pensoft launches its first journal publishing platform

By 2010, we realised that the main hurdle holding our progress as a next-age publisher of scientific knowledge was posed by the technology – or lack thereof –  underlying the publishing process. We figured that – in our position of users – we were best equipped to figure what exactly this backbone structure should be made of.

This is when we released the publishing platform TRIADA, which was able to support both the editorial and the publication processes at our journals. This was also the point in time when we added “technology provider” to the Pensoft’s byline. Surely, we had so many ideas in our mind and TRIADA was only the beginning!

2010b: In the 50th issue of ZooKeys, Pensoft publishes the first semantically enhanced biodiversity research papers

Explore the 50th ZooKeys issue.

Later the same year, TRIADA let us write some history. The 50th volume of ZooKeys wasn’t only special because of its number. It contained the first scholarly papers in the study of biodiversity featuring semantic enrichments. 

The novelty that keeps a taxon only a click away from a list of related data, including its occurrences, genomics data, treatments, literature etc. is a feature that remains a favourite to our journals’ users to this very day. Unique to date, this workflow is one of the many outcomes of our fantastic long-time collaboration and friendship with Plazi.

2011: Journal of Hymenoptera Research becomes the first society journal to move to Pensoft

Website: https://jhr.pensoft.net/

Three years after the launch of the very first Pensoft journal, we received a request from the International Society of Hymenopterists who wanted for their own journal: the Journal of Hymenoptera Research to follow the example of ZooKeys and provide to their authors, editors and readers a similar set of services and features designed to streamline biodiversity knowledge in a modern, user-friendly and highly efficient manner. 

Ever since, the journal has been co-published by the Society and Pensoft, and enjoyed growing popularity and appeal amongst hymenopterists from around the world.

Impact Factor and CiteScore trend for Journal of Hymenoptera Research since 2015.

2013: Pensoft replaces TRIADA with its own in-house built innovative ARPHA Platform

Website: https://arphahub.com/

As we said, TRIADA was merely the crude foundation of what was to become the ARPHA publishing platform: a publishing solution providing a lot more than an end-to-end entirely online environment to support the whole publishing process on both journal and article level.

On top of that, ARPHA’s publishing package includes a variety of automated and manually provided services, web service integrations and highly customisable features. With all of those, we aimed at one thing only: create a comprehensive scholarly publishing solution to our own dearest journals and all their users.

2013b:  Pensoft develops an XML-based writing tool

Website: https://arpha.pensoft.net/

Having just unveiled ARPHA Platform, we were quite confident that we have developed a pretty all-in publishing solution. Our journals would be launched, set up, hosted and upgraded safely under our watchful eye, while authors, editors and reviewers would need to send not a single email or a file outside of our collaborative environment from the moment they submit a manuscript to the moment they see it published, indexed and archived at all relevant databases. 

Yet, we could still spot a gap left to bridge. The Pensoft Writing Tool (or what is now known as the ARPHA Writing Tool or AWT) provides a space where researchers can do the authoring itself prior to submitting a manuscript straight to the journal. It all happens within the tool, with co-authors, external collaborators, reviewers and editors all able to contribute to the same manuscript file. Due to the XML technology underlying AWT, various data(sets) and references can be easily imported in a few clicks, while a list of templates and content management features lets researchers spend their time and efforts on their scientific work rather than format requirements.

2015: Pensoft launches the open-science RIO Journal

Website: https://riojournal.com/

Six years ago, amid heated discussions over the pros and cons of releasing scientific knowledge freely to all, we felt it’s time to push the boundaries even further. 

No wonder that, at the time, a scholarly journal with the aim to bring to light ‘alternative’ research outputs from along the whole research process, such as grant proposals, project and workshop reports, data management plans and research ideas amongst many others, was seen as quite brave and revolutionary. Long story short, a year after its launch, RIO earned the honorary recognition from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to be named an Open Science Innovator.

Learn about the key milestones and achievements at RIO Journal to date – in addition to its future goals – in the special blog post and the editorial published on the occasion of the journal’s fifth anniversary.

2016: Pensoft provides ARPHA Platform as a white-label journal publishing solution for the first time

Led by our intrinsic understanding for scholars and smaller publishers, we saw the need of many journals and their owners to simultaneously secure a user-friendly and sustainable publishing solution for their scientific outlets. This is why we decided to also offer our ARPHA Platform as a standalone package of technology, services and features, dissociated with Pensoft as a publisher. This option is particularly useful for university presses, learned societies and institutions who would rather stick to exclusivity when it comes to their journal’s branding and imprint.

The first to seek out this publishing solution of ours was The Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Press and its Business: Theory and Practice journal.

2017: Pensoft launches its conference-dedicated platforms for abstracts and proceedings 

Website: https://ap.pensoft.net/

Another step forward to encompassing the whole spectrum of research outputs was to take care after conference materials: proceedings and abstracts. Once again, our thinking was that all scientific work and efforts need to be made openly available, accessible, reusable and creditable. 

Both ARPHA Conference Abstracts and ARPHA Proceedings allow for organisers to conveniently bring the publications together in a conference-branded collection, thereby providing a one-stop permanent access point to all content submitted and presented at a particular event, alongside associated data, images, videos and multimedia, video recordings of conference talks or graphic files of poster presentations. 

Publications at both platforms benefit from all key advantages available to conventional research papers at a Pensoft journal, such as registration at Crossref and individual DOI; publication in PDF, semantically enhanced HTML and data-minable XML formats; indexing and archiving at multiple major databases; science communications services.

2019: Pensoft develops the OpenBiodiv Knowledge Graph

As firm believers in the power and future of linked and FAIR data, at Pensoft we realise there is still a great gap in the way biodiversity data is collated, stored, accessed and made available to researchers and key stakeholders for further reuse. 

In fact, this is an area within biodiversity research that is in dire need of a revolutionary mechanism to provide a readily available and convenient hub that allows a researcher to access all related data via multi-directional links interconnecting various and standardised databases, in accordance with the Web 2.0 principles.

As the first step in that direction, in 2019, we launched the OpenBiodiv Knowledge Graph, which began to collate various types of biodiversity data as extracted from semantically enhanced articles published by Pensoft and taxonomic treatments harvested by Plazi. 

Since then, the OpenBiodiv Knowledge Graph has evolved into the Open Biodiversity Knowledgement Management System (OBKMS), which also comprises a Linked Open Dataset, an ontology and а website. Our work on the OBKMS continues to this day, fueled by just as much enthusiasm as in those early days in 2019.

2020: Pensoft launches ARPHA Preprints

By 2020, a number of factors and issues that had long persisted within scholarly publishing and academia had already triggered the emergence of multiple preprint servers. Yet, the onset of the unprecedented for our age COVID-19 pandemic, seemed like the final straw that made everyone realise we needed to start uncovering early scientific work, and we needed to do that fast.

At the time, we had already been considering applying the Pensoft approach to preprints. So, we came up with a solution that could seamlessly blend into our existing infrastructure.

Offered as an opt-in service to journals published on the ARPHA Platform, ARPHA Preprints allows for authors to check a box and post their manuscripts as a preprint as they are filling in the submission form at a participating journal. 

Learn more about ARPHA Preprints on the ARPHA blog.

2021a: RIO Journal expands into a project-driven knowledge hub

Ever since its launch, RIO had been devised as the ultimate scholarly venue to share the early, intermediate and final results of a research project. While collections at the journal had already been put in good use, we still had what to add, so that we could provide a one-stop place for consortia to permanently store their outputs and make them easily discoverable and accessible long after their project had concluded. 

With the upgraded collections, their owners received the oppotunity to also add various research publications – including scholarly articles published elsewhere, author-formatted documents and preprints. In the former case, the article is visualised within the collection at RIO via a link to its original source, while in the latter, it is submitted and published via ARPHA Preprints. 

Learn more about the upgraded collections module on our blog and explore the collections on RIO’s website. 

Research projects with collections in RIO Journal.

2021b: Pensoft becomes a coordinator of the BiCIKL project 

Over the years, we have been partnering with many like-minded innovators and their institutions from across the natural science community. Surely, we hadn’t successfully developed all those technologies and workflows without their invaluable feedback and collaborations. 

In 2021, our shared passion and vision about the future of research data availability and usage culminated in the project BiCIKL (abbreviation for Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library), which was granted funding by the European Commission and will run until April 2024.

Within BiCIKL, our team of 14 European institutions are deploying and improving our own and partnering infrastructures to bridge gaps between each other’s biodiversity data types and classes with the ultimate goal to provide flawless access to data across all stages of the research cycle. By the end of the project, together we will have created the first-of-its-kind Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, where a researcher will be able to retrieve a full set of linked and open biodiversity data.

Naturally, being a coordinator of such a huge endeavour towards revolutionising biodiversity science is a great honour by itself. 

For us, though, this project has a special place in our hearts, as it perfectly resonates with the very reason why we are here: publishing and sharing science in the most efficient and user-friendly manner.

Visit the BiCIKL website, explore the news section and follow @BiCIKL_H2020 on Twitter.

To stay up to date with the highlights from our various activities at Pensoft, follow us onTwitter,Facebook and LinkedIn

Natural History Museum of Berlin’s journal Fossil Record started publishing on ARPHA Platform

Fossil Record – the paleontological scholarly journal of the Natural History Museum of Berlin (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) published its first articles after moving to the academic publisher Pensoft and its publishing platform ARPHA Platform in late 2021. The renowned scientific outlet – launched in 1998 – joined two other historical journals owned by the Museum: Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift and Zoosystematics and Evolution, which moved to Pensoft back in 2014.

Fossil Record – the paleontological scholarly journal of the Natural History Museum of Berlin (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) published its first articles after moving to the academic publisher Pensoft and its publishing platform ARPHA in late 2021. The renowned scientific outlet – launched in 1998 – joined two other historical journals owned by the Museum: Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift and Zoosystematics and Evolution, which moved to Pensoft back in 2014.

Published in two issues a year, the open-access scientific outlet covers research from all areas of palaeontology, including the taxonomy and systematics of fossil organisms, biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, and evolution. It deals with all taxonomic groups, including invertebrates, microfossils, plants, and vertebrates.

As a result of the move to ARPHA, Fossil Record utilises the whole package of ARPHA Platform’s services, including its fast-track, end-to-end publishing module, designed to appeal to readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike. A major advantage is that the whole editorial process, starting from the submission of a manuscript and continuing into peer review, editing, publication, dissemination, archiving and hosting, happens within the online ecosystem of ARPHA. 

As soon as they are published, the articles in Fossil Record are available in three formats: PDF, machine-readable JATS XML and semantically enriched HTML for better and mobile-friendly reader experience. 

The publications are equipped with real-time metrics on both article and sub-article level that allow easy access to the number of visitors, views and downloads for every article and each of it’s figures, tables or supplementary materials. In their turn, the semantic enhancements do not only allow for easy navigation throughout the text and quick access to cited literature and the article’s own citations, but also tag each taxon that appears in the paper to provide links to further information concerning its occurrences, genomics, nomenclature, treatments and more as available from various databases.      

The first five papers – now available on the brand new journal website powered by ARPHA – already demonstrate the breadth of topics covered by Fossil Record, including systematics, paleobiogeography, palaeodiversity and morphology, as well as the international appeal of the scholarly outlet. The articles are co-authored by collaborative research teams representing ten countries and spanning three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.

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About the Natural History Museum of Berlin:

The “Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science” is an integrated research museum within the Leibniz Association. It is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity.

The Museum’s mission is to discover and describe life and earth – with people, through dialogue. As an excellent research museum and innovative communication platform, it wants to engage with and influence the scientific and societal discourse about the future of our planet, worldwide. Its vision, strategy and structure make the museum an excellent research museum. The Natural History Museum of Berlin has research partners in Berlin, Germany and approximately 60 other countries. Over 700,000 visitors per year as well as steadily increasing participation in educational and other events show that the Museum has become an innovative communication centre that helps shape the scientific and social dialogue about the future of our earth.