Measuring the extent and dynamics of the global biodiversity crisis is a challenging task that demands rapid, reliable and repeatable biodiversity monitoring data. Such data is essential for policymakers to be able to assess policy options effectively and accurately. To achieve this, however, there is a need to enhance the integration of biodiversity data from various sources, including citizen scientists, museums, herbaria, and researchers.
B-Cubed (Biodiversity Building Blocks for policy) hopes to tackle this challenge by reimagining the process of biodiversity monitoring, making it more adaptable and responsive.
B-Cubed’s approach rests on six pillars:
Improved alignment between policy and biodiversity data. Working closely with existing biodiversity initiatives to identify and meet policy needs.
Evidence base. Leveraging data cubes to standardise access to biodiversity data using the Essential Biodiversity Variables framework. These cubes are the basis for models and indicators of biodiversity.
Cloud computing environment. Providing users with access to the models in real-time and on demand.
Automated workflows. Developing exemplary automated workflows for modelling using biodiversity data cubes and for calculating change indicators.
Case studies. Demonstrating the effectiveness of B-Cubed’s tools.
Capacity building. Ensuring that the solutions meet openness standards and training end-users to employ them.
Harnessing its experience in the communication, dissemination and exploitation of numerous EU projects, Pensoft focuses on maximising B-Cubed’s impact and ensuring the adoption and long-term legacy of its results. This encompasses a wide array of activities, ranging all the way from building the project’s visual and online presence to translating its results into policy recommendations. Pensoft also oversees B-Cubed’s data management by developing a Data Management Plan which ensures the implementation of the FAIR data principles and maximises the access to and re-use of the project’s research outputs.
Today, we are thrilled to share with you the celebration of a remarkable milestone in our journey. In July, we marked our 15th birthday – a decade and a half of fostering the free exchange of ideas, data, and knowledge in the vast realm of zoology.
We look back on this incredible journey with pride and appreciation for the countless researchers, authors, reviewers, and supporters who have helped make this dream a reality. From the very inception, our goal has been to create a platform where zoological discoveries can shine brightly, accessible to all who share a passion for the wonders of the animal kingdom.
ZooKeys was born out of our collective desire to push the boundaries of scientific publishing, to embrace innovation, and to provide a space where the brightest minds in zoology could come together. Over the years, we have not only achieved this but, thanks to our publisher Pensoft, have also become pioneers in implementing cutting-edge technologies to enhance the way knowledge is shared and absorbed.
ZooKeys was the first of Pensoft’s open-access journals, set up to accelerate research and free information exchange in taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and evolution of animals. Starting as a taxonomic journal, it quickly expanded to other zoology-related sciences, such as ecology, molecular biology, genomics, evolutionary biology, palaeontology, behavioural science, bioinformatics etc… The journal has been thriving since its inception and is currently considered as one of the most prolific and liked Open Access journals in zoology.
Erwin T, Stoev P, Penev L (2018) ZooKeys anniversary: 10 years of leadership toward open-access publishing of zoological data and establishment at Pensoft of like-minded sister journals across the biodiversity spectrum. ZooKeys 770: 1-8. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.770.28105
One of our proudest achievements was being the first taxonomic journal to introduce semantic tagging and content enhancements, revolutionizing the way information is presented and accessed. This endeavor, which began with our 50th issue in 2010, marked a turning point in scholarly publishing.
As of today, we’ve published more than 180,000 pages of research in almost 7,000 articles that have amassed more than 3 million views. Here is a Top 5 of our most popular articles ever:
Helgen K, Pinto M, Kays R, Helgen L, Tsuchiya M, Quinn A, Wilson D, Maldonado J (2013) Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. ZooKeys 324: 1-83. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.324.5827, with 80,500 views,
Bousquet Y (2016) Litteratura Coleopterologica (1758–1900): a guide to selected books related to the taxonomy of Coleoptera with publication dates and notes. ZooKeys 583: 1-776. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.583.7084 with 69,543 views,
Ledford J, Griswold C, Audisio T (2012) An extraordinary new family of spiders from caves in the Pacific Northwest (Araneae, Trogloraptoridae, new family). ZooKeys 215: 77-102. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.215.3547 with 65,446 views,
Ibrahim N, Sereno PC, Varricchio DJ, Martill DM, Dutheil DB, Unwin DM, Baidder L, Larsson HCE, Zouhri S, Kaoukaya A (2020) Geology and paleontology of the Upper Cretaceous Kem Kem Group of eastern Morocco. ZooKeys 928: 1-216. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.928.47517 with 64,456 views,
Bouchard P, Bousquet Y, Davies A, Alonso-Zarazaga M, Lawrence J, Lyal C, Newton A, Reid C, Schmitt M, Slipinski A, Smith A (2011) Family-Group Names In Coleoptera (Insecta). ZooKeys 88: 1-972. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.88.807 with 63,524 views.
Our journey would have been incomplete without you – our avid readers and supporters. Your hunger for knowledge, your curiosity, and your unwavering support have been the wind beneath our wings, motivating us to do better, and reinforcing the importance of what we do. As we celebrate our 15th birthday, we extend our deepest gratitude to each one of you who has been a part of our history.
Looking ahead, the future of ZooKeys looks as bright as ever. We are committed to continuing our legacy of innovation, collaboration, and accessibility. Our goal remains steadfast – to be a beacon of knowledge, a platform that fosters discoveries, and a source of inspiration for the next generation of zoological minds.
As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we are filled with a sense of awe and wonder at the remarkable achievements we have collectively made. Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey. Here’s to the next 15 years and beyond, as we continue to explore, discover, and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of life on Earth.
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 supportmeasures 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, institutionalor 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!
Readers at some of the journals published by Pensoft, who have downloaded/printed a publication or ordered a physical copy of a journal issue over the last few weeks, might be in for a surprise concerning the layout of the PDF format of the articles.
Even though it’s been years since online publishing has become the norm in how we are consuming information – including scientific publications – we understand that academia is still very much fond of traditional, often paper-based, article layout format: the one you use when accessing a PDF file or a print copy, rather than directly scrolling down through the HTML version of the article.
Even if today large orders of printed volumes from overseas are the exception, rather than the rule, we know we have readers of ours who regularly print manuscripts at home or savе them on their devices. Trends like this have already led to many journals first abandoning the physical- for digital-first, then transitioning to digital-only publication format.
As we speak, readers are accessing PDF files from much higher-quality desktops, in order to skim through as much content as possible.
In the meantime, authors are relying on greater-quality cameras to document their discoveries, while using advanced computational tools capable of generating and analysing extra layers of precise data. While producing more exhaustive research, however, it is also of key importance that their manuscripts are processed and published as rapidly as possible.
So, let’s run through the updates and give you our reasoning for their added value to readers and authors.
Revised opening page
One of the major changes is the one to the format of the first page. By leaving some blank space on the left, we found a dedicated place for important article metadata, i.e. academic editor, date of manuscript submission / acceptance / publication, citation details and licence. As a result, we “cleaned up” the upper part of the page, so that it can better highlight the authors and their affiliations.
Bottom line: The new layout provides a better structure to the opening page to let readers find key article metadata at a glance.
Expand as much – or as little – as comfortable
As you might know, journals published by Pensoft have been coming in different formats and sizes. Now, we have introduced the standard A4 page size, where the text is laid in a single column that has been slightly indented to the right, as seen above. Whenever a figure or a table is used in a manuscript, however, it is expanded onto the whole width of the page.
Before giving our reasons why, let’s see what were the specific problems that we address.
Case study 1
Some of our signature journals, including ZooKeys, PhytoKeys and MycoKeys, have become quite recognisable with their smaller-than-average B5 format, widely appreciated by people who would often be seen carrying around a copy during a conference or an international flight.
However, in recent times, authors began to embrace good practices in research like open sharing of data and code, which resulted in larger and more complex tables. Similarly, their pocket-sized cameras would capture much higher-resolution photos capable of revealing otherwise minute morphological characters. Smaller page size would also mean that often there would be pages between an in-text reference of a figure or a table and the visual itself.
So, here we faced an obvious question: shall we deprive their readers from all those detailed insights into the published studies?
Yet, the A4 format brought up another issue: the lines were too long for the eye comfort of their readers.
What they did was organise their pages into two-column format. While this sounds like a good and quite obvious decision, the format – best known from print newspapers – is pretty inconvenient when accessed digitally. Since the readers would like to zoom in on the PDF page or simply access the article on mobile, they will need to scroll up and down several times per page.
In addition, the production of a two-column text is technologically more challenging, which results in extra production time.
Bottom line: The new layout allows journals to not sacrifice image quality for text readability and vice versa. As a bonus, authors enjoy faster publication for their papers.
If you have a closer look at the PDF file, you would notice that print-ready papers have also switched to a more simplistic – yet easier to the eye – font. Again, the update corresponds to today’s digital-native user behaviour, where readers often access PDF files from devices of various resolutions and skim through the text, as opposed to studying its content in detail.
In fact, the change is hardly new, since the same font has long been utilised for the webpages (HTML format) of the publications across all journals.
Bottom line: The slightly rounder and simplified font prompts readability, thereby allowing for faster and increased consumption of content.
What’s the catch? How about characters and APCs?
While we have been receiving a lot of positive feedback from editors, authors and readers, there has been a concern that the updates would increase the publication charges, wherever these are estimated based on page numbers.
Having calculated the lines and characters in the new layout format, we would like to assure you that there is no increase in the numbers of characters or words between the former and current layout formats. In fact, due to the additional number of lines fitting in an A4 page as opposed to B5, authors might be even up for a deal.
* At the time of the writing, the new paper layout has not been rolled out at all journals published by Pensoft. However, most of the editorial boards have already confirmed they would like to incorporate the update.
As an expert in science communication, dissemination and exploitation, Pensoft joins the Horizon-funded project TRANSPATH to identify leverage points and interventions for triggering transformative changes at consumer, producer and organisational levels.
The magnitude of biodiversity loss and climate crisis has grown exponentially in recent years, which will inevitably lead to serious consequences at a global scale. Although reversing the degradation of ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are top priorities for the European Union, science and policy communities are united in the belief that conventional policies alone are not enough to halt biodiversity loss or mitigate climate change.
In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, whilst simultaneously reshaping people’s relations with nature, we need transformative changes in our economies and societies urgently.
TRANSPATH (short for TRANSformative PATHways for synergising just biodiversity and climate actions) – a new European Union-funded project, plans to satisfy this need by accelerating diverse transformative pathways towards biodiversity-positive and climate-proofed societies, with sensitivity to social-cultural contexts and rights.
TRANSPATH will identify leverage points and interventions for triggering transformative changes at consumer, producer and organisational levels. A research team, consisting of leading academics, science-policy experts, and early-career professionals, will directly engage with diverse stakeholders, who affect and are affected by trade regimes and associated ‘greening’ mechanisms.
As a leader of WP5: Dissemination, outreach and catalysing transformative pathways, Pensoft is responsible for providinga dissemination and communication strategy, as well as taking care of the project branding and website. In addition, the Pensoft team is to organise joint activities with other projects or initiatives on transformative change and related topics.
Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, TRANSPATH was launched on 1st November 2022 and will be running until October 2026. The official kick-off of the project took place online and was followed by an in-person kick-off meeting of all consortium members on the 2nd and 3rd February 2023 in Wageningen, the Netherlands.
For the next four years TRANSPATH will be focussing on the design and integrated assessment of a suite of transformative pathways that hold potential to accelerate shifts in unsustainable patterns of extraction, production, consumption and trade. The project’s mission will be achieved by four objectives:
Set up a Policy Board and Science-policy-practitioner Labs at multiple scales to engage and jointly deliberate on implications of diverse visions and pathways of change.
Identify and characterise leverage points for diverse contexts that lead to positive synergies between biodiversity, climate and trade domains.
Integrate and customise European and global pathways by considering coupled biodiversity-climate actions and critical leverage points.
Identify and test alternative interventions at global and European scales that can trigger transformative change at the level of consumers, producers and organisations.
TRANSPATH will bring together and advance several strands of recent research, which hold potential for triggering and accelerating transformative changes that can restrain biodiversity loss and climate change.
The project will draw on diverse contexts in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and Latin America, to engage with policy makers and practitioners, individuals, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations.
In addition, policy packages and other interventions will be designed to facilitate the emergence of leverage points at different scales of action in ways that change the decision-making framework of everyday choices.
These interventions take into account the synergies and trade-offs of actions across multiple individuals and locations, as well as the role of incentives and political obstacles to implementation.
The EU project will provide a suite of Transformative Pathways along with a Toolbox of Transformative Interventions to trigger and enable these pathways. The Transformative Navigation Toolkit assists practitioners in enabling and navigating these pathways, acknowledging that determining what constitutes a ‘transformative pathway’ is also a product of an iterative and adaptive process that emerges and evolves over time.
The TRANSPATH project brings together leading academics, science-policy experts, and young professionals from different social-cultural origins across Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and Latin America. Represented by nine countries and twelve nationalities, the consortium comprises a diverse range of scientific disciplines in environments, economics, and social sciences.
Dedicated to ensuring sufficient engagement from local to global levels in this project, the experts are focused on integrated and inclusive deliberation that is essential for identifying, legitimising, and navigating transformative pathways.
In an age where we more than ever need to appreciate and preserve the magnificent biodiversity inhabiting the Earth, we decided to go for a lighter and fun take on the work of taxonomists that often goes unnoticed by the public.
From the ocean depths surrounding Indonesia to the foliage of the native forests of Príncipe Island and into the soils of Borneo, we started with 16 species described as new to science in journals published by Pensoft over the years.
Out of these most amazing creatures, over the past several weeks we sought to find who’s got the greatest fandom by holding a poll on Twitter (you can follow it further down here or via #NewSpeciesShowdown).
While we need to admit that we ourselves expected to crown an animal as the crowd-favourite, we take the opportunity to congratulate the botanists amongst our fans for the well-deserved win of Nepenthes pudica (see the species description)!
Find more about the curious one-of-a-kind pitcher plant in this blog post, where we announced its discovery following the new species description in PhytoKeys in June 2022:
What’s perhaps even more curious, is that there is only one species EVER described in a Pensoft-published journal that has so far triggered more tweets than the pitcher plant, and that species is the animal that has ended up in second place in the New Species Showdown: a tiny amphibian living in Peru, commonly known as the the Amazon Tapir Frog (Synapturanus danta).Which brings us once again to the influence of botanists in taxonomic research.
Read more about its discovery in the blog post from February 2022:
Another thing that struck us during the tournament was that there was only one species described in our flagship journal in systematic journal ZooKeys: the supergiant isopod Bathynomus raksasa, that managed to fight its way to the semi-finals, where it lost against S. danta.
This makes us especially proud with our diverse and competitive journal portfolio full of titles dedicated to biodiversity and taxonomic research!
Twice a week, @Pensoft would announce a match between two competing species on Twitter using the hashtag #NewSpeciesShowdown, where everyone could vote in the poll for their favourie.
This competition is for entertainment purposes only. As it was tremendously tough to narrow the list down to only sixteen species, we admit that we left out a lot of spectacular creatures.
To ensure fairness and transparency, we made the selection based on the yearly Altmetric data, which covers articles in our journals published from 2010 onwards and ranks the publications according to their online mentions from across the Web, including news media, blogs and social networks.
We did our best to diversify the list as much as possible in terms of taxonomic groups. However, due to the visual-centric nature of social media, we gave preference to immediately attractive species.
(in chronological order)
Round 2 – Quarter-finals
Round 3 – Semi-finals
But why did we hold the tournament right now?
If you have gone to the Pensoft website at any point in 2022, visited our booth at a conference, or received a newsletter from any of our journals, by this time, you must be well aware that in 2022 – more precisely, on 25 December – we turned 30. And we weren’t afraid to show it!
Indeed, 30 is not that big of a number, as many of us adult humans can confirm. Yet, we take pride in reminiscing about what we’ve done over the last three decades.
Long story short, we wanted to do something special and fun to wrap up our anniversary year. While we have been active in various areas, including development of publishing technology concerning open and FAIR access and linkage for research outcomes and underlying data; and multiple EU-supported scientific projects, we have always been associated with our biodiversity journal portfolio.
Besides, who doesn’t like to learn about the latest curious creature that has evaded scientific discovery throughout human history up until our days? 😉
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
2013: Pensoft replaces TRIADA with its own in-house built innovative ARPHA Platform
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
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
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.
2017: Pensoft launches its conference-dedicated platforms for abstracts and proceedings
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Herpetozoa, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the Austrian Herpetological Society, renewed its contract with Pensoft, re-signing with the scholarly publisher for another five years. Published since 1988, the journal offers a venue for research articles, short contributions and reviews dealing with all aspects of the study of amphibians and reptiles.
Herpetozoa, thepeer-reviewed scientific journal of the Austrian Herpetological Society, renewed its contract with Pensoft, re-signing with the scholarly publisher for another five years. Published since 1988, the journal offers a venue for research articles, short contributions and reviews dealing with all aspects of the study of amphibians and reptiles.
Enticed by the opportunities that open access publishing offers, and looking to improve its visibility, Herpetozoa first came to Pensoft in 2019. The move equipped the journal with abrand new website and a full suite of publishing services tailored to the needs of biodiversity-themed academic publications available from ARPHA, Pensoft’s self-developed publishing platform.
In ARPHA’s fast-track publishing system, each manuscript is carried through all stages, from submission and reviewing to dissemination and archiving, without ever leaving the platform’s collaboration-friendly online environment. In addition, semantic enhancements, automated data export to aggregators, web-service integrations with major indexing databases, and a variety of publishing formats ensure that all articles are easy to find, access, and use by both humans and machines.
The journal also makes use of ARPHA Preprints, another service developed by Pensoft to streamline public access to the latest scientific findings. The platform allows authors to submit a preprint in a matter of seconds along with their manuscript, with no need to upload any additional files. Following a quick in-house screening, the preprint is then made available on ARPHA Preprints in a few days’ time. Once the associated paper is published, a two-way link between the article and the preprint is established via CrossRef.
In the past three years, we saw Herpetozoa publish some quite peculiar discoveries that were quick to attract the attention of the global media. Such was the case of a set of first-of-their-kind observations of kukri snakes gutting toads and eating their organs while still alive. At the same time, the journal doesn’t fail to bring public attention to urgent conservation and biodiversity loss issues like reptile poaching in Pakistan, as well as innovative methods to monitor delicate amphibians in a non-invasive manner.