Celebrating excellence in plant systematics research: Phytokeys’ 200th issue

For almost 12 years now, PhytoKeys has been providing high-quality, peer-reviewed resources on plant taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and evolution, freely available open access.

PhytoKeys, Pensoft’s open-access, peer-reviewed botany systematics journal, has been around for over a decade. Since its launch in 2010, it has published almost 30,000 pages in more than 1,200 works. As PhytoKeys hits the milestone of its 200th issue – which presented a monograph of wild and cultivated chili peppers – there’s plenty to look back to.

For almost 12 years now, PhytoKeys has been providing high-quality, peer-reviewed resources on plant taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and evolution, freely available open access.

As our flagship botany journal, PhytoKeys is part of our concerted effort to help advance taxonomic studies. The more we know about biodiversity, the better we are equipped to protect it.

This is why, in a time when so many species are getting wiped out from the face of the Earth before we even become aware of their existence, it is truly exciting that we can sometimes be the bearer of good news.

Take the story of Gasteranthus extinctus from Ecuador doesn’t its name sound a lot like extinct to you? That’s because the scientists named it based on specimens collected some 15 years earlier. So, they suspected that during the time in between, the species had already become extinct.

Yet, this is a happy-ending story: in a surprising turn of events, the plant was rediscovered 40 years after its last sighting. Gasteranthus extinctus is the hopeful message that we all needed: there’s still so much we can do to protect biodiversity.

Long believed to have gone extinct, Gasteranthus extinctus was found growing next to a waterfall at Bosque y Cascada Las Rocas, a private reserve in coastal Ecuador containing a large population of the endangered plant. Photo by Riley Fortier.

Over the time, we saw some ground-breaking botany research. We welcomed some record-breaking new plant species, such as the 3.6-meter-tall begonia, and the smallest Rafflesia that measures around 10 cm in diameter.

We witnessed the discoveries of some truly beautiful flowers.

Some of them may have looked like they had a demon’s head hiding in them.

We helped unveil some taxonomic mysteries – like the bamboo fossil that wasn’t a bamboo, or the 30-meter new species of tree that was “hiding in plain sight”.

Then there was the overnight celebrity: the first pitcher plant to form underground insect traps.

Published less than two months ago, Nepenthes pudica broke all kinds of popularity records at PhytoKeys: it became the journal’s all-time most popular work, with thousands of shares on social media, more than 70 news outlets covering its story, and upward of 70,000 views on YouTube.

Publishing in PhytoKeys is always a pleasure. I appreciate the quick but rigorous peer review process and reasonably short time from initial submission to the final publication.

says Martin Dančák of Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, lead author of the Nepenthes study.

Every week, PhytoKeys publishes dozens of pages of quality botany research. Every week, we’re amazed at the discoveries made by botanists around the world. In a field that is so rapidly evolving, and with so much remaining to be unveiled, the future sure seems promising!

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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.

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.

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Museum of New Zealand’s journal Tūhinga moves to Pensoft’s ARPHA Publishing Platform

Having decided to turn Tūhinga “into a 21st-century”, digital-native diamond open-access journal, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa signed with scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft and its publishing platform ARPHA. As part of their agreement, not only is the journal to make its future content easy to read and discover by readers and computer algorithms, but will also do so for its legacy content.

Having decided to turn Tūhinga “into a 21st-century”, digital-native diamond open-access journal, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa signed with scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft and its publishing platform ARPHA. As part of the agreement, not only is the journal to make its future content easy to read and discover by readers and computer algorithms, but will also do so for its legacy publications previously available solely in print. 

Tūhinga: Records of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the successor of the Museum of New Zealand Records, the National Museum of New Zealand Records, and the Dominion Museum Records in Ethnology. Together, the outlets have acquired a nearly two century-worth of scientific knowledge provided by the museum’s curators, collection managers, and research associates across disciplines, from archaeology to zoology.

The renovated Tūhinga is to utilise the whole package of signature services provided by the platform, including ARPHA’s fast-track, end-to-end publishing system, which benefits readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike. 

This means that each submitted manuscript is to be carried through the review, editing, publication, dissemination and archiving stages without leaving the platform’s collaboration-centred online environment. The articles themselves are to be openly available in PDF, machine-readable JATS XML formats, and semantically enriched HTML for better reader experience. Thus, the journal’s articles will be as easy to discover, access, reuse and cite as possible. Once published, the content is to be indexed and archived instantaneously and its underlying data exported to relevant specialised databases. Simultaneously, a suite of various metrics is to be enabled to facilitate tracking the usage of articles and sub-article elements – like figures and tables – in real time.

The journal’s legacy content is to also become machine-discoverable and more user-friendly. Each of these papers will also be assigned with DOI and registered at CrossRef, while their metadata will be indexed at relevant databases. On the new journal website, they will be displayed as embedded PDF documents, while the reader will be able to do a full-text search of the article’s content.

Tūhinga welcomes original collections-based research in the natural sciences and humanities, including museological research, where its multidisciplinarity reflects the breadth and range of museum-based scholarship. The journal focuses primarily on New Zealand and the Pacific, but all contributions are considered. Having opted for a Diamond Open Access policy, the journal is to charge neither its readers, nor the authors.

“It’s a great honour to sign with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and provide our publishing services to Tūhinga. Particularly, we take pride in letting the whole wide world straight into the holdings of Te Papa and the knowledge they have prompted in the distant past: something that would not typically be possible had they remained only on paper,”

says Prof. Dr Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO at ARPHA and Pensoft.

The journal Biosystematics and Ecology moves to ARPHA Platform

The scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft and its self-developed publishing platform ARPHA welcome Biosystematics and Ecology – a journal by the Austrian Academy of Sciences – to its growing open-access scholarly portfolio. By moving to ARPHA, Biosystematics and Ecology now enjoys a long list of high-tech perks, which dramatically enhance the entire publishing process, from submission to publication, distribution and archiving.

The Austrian Academy of Sciences’ journal Biosystematics and Ecology now boasts an improved publishing infrastructure after moving to the technologically advanced ARPHA Platform and signing with publisher and technology provider Pensoft. The publisher, well-established in the domain of biodiversity-themed journals, is eager to welcome this latest addition to its growing open-access portfolio.

Biosystematics and Ecology is a continuation and replaces the established print-only Biosystematics and Ecology Series of the Austrian Academy of Sciences’s Commission for Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies. It publishes research focused on biodiversity in Central Europe and around the world, a domain of rapidly growing importance as а global biodiversity crisis is looming. A great advantage of Biosystematics and Ecology, in contrast to its predecessor, is the ability to simply update existing checklists and therefore to account for new scientific findings about taxonomic groups or regions. 

The peer-reviewed outlet includes contributions on a wide range of ecology and biosystematics topics, aiming to provide biodiversity data, such as catalogi, checklists and interdisciplinary research to the scientific community, while offering the maximum in accessibility, usability, and transparency. The journal is currently indexed in Crossref and archived in CLOCKSS, Portico and Zenodo.

Having already acquired its own glossy and user-friendly website provided by ARPHA, the journal also takes advantage of the platform’s signature fast-track publishing system, which offers an end-to-end publishing solution from submission to publication, distribution and archiving. The platform offers a synergic online space for authoring, reviewing, editing, production and archiving, ensuring a seamlessly integrated workflow at every step of the publishing process.

Thanks to the financial support of the Academy, Biosystematics and Ecology will publish under Diamond Open Access, which means that it is free to read and publish. Opting for ARPHA’s white-label publishing solution, the journal is published under the Academy’s branding and imprint, while benefiting from all signature high-tech features by ARPHA.

Biosystematics and Ecology also makes use of ARPHA Preprints, another platform developed by Pensoft, where authors can post a preprint in a matter of seconds upon submitting a manuscript to the journal. Once the associated manuscript gets published, the preprint is conveniently linked to the formal paper, displaying its citation details.

ARPHA’s easy-to-use, open-access publishing platform offers high-end functionalities such as diverse paper formats (PDF, machine-readable JATS XML, and semantically enriched HTML), automated data export to aggregators, web-service integrations with major global indexing databases, advanced semantics publishing, and automated email notifications and reminders. Features like these make it easy for both humans and machines all over the world to discover, access, cite, and reuse published research.

Centrally-managed collections & Peer review flexibility at RIO

RIO updated its article collection approach to evolve into a “project-driven knowledge hub”, where a project coordinator, institution or conference organiser can create and centrally manage a collection under their own logo.

In 2015, Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) was launched to streamline dissemination of scientific knowledge throughout the research process, recognised to begin with the inception of a research idea, followed by the submission of a grant proposal and progressing to, for example, data / software management plans and mid-stage project reports, before concluding with the well-known research and review paper.


In order to really expedite and facilitate access to scientific knowledge, the hurdles for engagement with the process need to be minimized for readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike. RIO aims to lay the groundwork for constructive scientific feedback and dialogue that would then lead to the elaboration and refinement of the research work well in its early stage. 

Recently, RIO published its 300th article – about a software for analyzing time series data from a microclimate research site in the Alps – and at that occasion, the RIO team wrote an editorial summarizing how the articles published in RIO so far facilitate engagement with the respective research processes. One of the observations in this regard was that while providing access to the various stages of the research cycle is necessary for meaningful engagement, there is a need for the various outcomes to be packed together, so that we can provide a more complete context for individual published outcomes.

Read the new editorial celebrating RIO’s 5th anniversary and looking back on 300 publications. 

RIO introduced updates to its article collection approach to evolve into a “project-driven knowledge hub”, where a project coordinator, research institution or conference organiser can create and centrally manage a collection under their own logo, so that authors can much more easily contribute. Further, research outputs published elsewhere – including preprints – are also allowed, so that the collection displays each part of the ‘puzzle’ within its context. In this case, the metadata of the paper, i.e. title, authors and publication date, are displayed in the article list within the collection, and link to the original source.

Apart from allowing the inclusion of the whole diversity of research outcomes published in RIO or elsewhere, what particularly appeals to projects, conferences and institutions is the simplicity of opening and managing a self-branded collection at RIO. All they need to do is pay a one-time fee to cover the setup and maintenance of the collection, whereas an option with an unlimited number of publications is also available. Then, authors can add their work – subject to approval by the collection’s editor and the journal’s editorial office – by either starting a new manuscript at RIO and then assigning it to an existing collection; pasting the DOI of a publication available from elsewhere; or posting an author-formatted PDF document to ARPHA Preprints, as it has been submitted to the external evaluator (e.g. funding agency). In the latter two cases, the authors are charged nothing, in order to support greater transparency and contextuality within the research process.

Buttons on RIO Journal’s homepage allow users to create a new collection or add a document to an existing collection by either submitting a new manuscript via RIO Journal or pasting a DOI link of a publication from elsewhere, thus allowing for the collection to link to the original source and display the article’s metadata, i.e. title, authors and publication date.

Find more information about how to edit a collection at RIO and the associated benefits and responsibilities on RIO’s website.

Another thing we have revised at RIO is the peer review policy and workflow, which are now further clarified and tailored to the specificity of each type of research outcome.

Having moved to entirely author-initiated peer review, where the system automatically invites reviewers suggested by the author upon submission of a paper, RIO has also clearly defined which article types are subject to mandatory pre-publication peer review or not (see the full list). In the latter case, RIO no longer prompts the invitation of reviewers. Within their collections, owners and guest editors can decide on the peer review mode, guided by RIO’s existing policies.

While pre-publication peer review is not always mandatory, all papers are subject to editorial evaluation and also remain available in perpetuity for post-submission review. In both cases, reviews are public and disclose the name of their author by default. In turn, RIO registers each review with its own DOI via CrossRef, in order to recognise the valuable input and let the reviewers easily refer to their contributions. 

Both pre- and post-publication reviews at RIO are openly published alongside the paper and bear their own DOI. All papers in RIO remain available for post-publication review in perpetuity (see example).

For article types where peer review is mandatory (e.g. Research Idea, Review article, Research Article, Data Paper), authors are requested to invite a minimum of three suitable reviewers upon the submission of the paper, who are then automatically invited by the system. While significantly expediting the editorial work on a manuscript, this practice doesn’t compromise the quality of peer review in the slightest, since the editor is still overlooking the process and able to invite additional reviewers anytime, if necessary. 

For article types where peer review is not mandatory (e.g. Grant Proposal, Data Management Plan, Project Report and various conference materials), all an author needs to do is provide a statement about the review status of their paper, which will be made public alongside the article. Given that such papers have usually already been scrutinised by a legitimate authority (e.g. funding agency or conference committee), it only makes sense to not withhold their publication and duplicate academic efforts.

By the time it is submitted to RIO, a Grant Proposal like this one has often already been assessed by a legitimate funder, so it only makes sense to not undergo the process again at RIO and thereby slowing down its public dissemination.

Additionally, where the article type of a manuscript requires pre-publication review, RIO encourages the authors to click a checkbox during the submission and post their pre-review manuscript as a preprint on ARPHA Preprints, subject to a quick editorial screening, which would only take a few days.

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Follow RIO Journal on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Further reading:

Data checking for biodiversity collections and other biodiversity data compilers from Pensoft

Guest blog post by Dr Robert Mesibov

Proofreading the text of scientific papers isn’t hard, although it can be tedious. Are all the words spelled correctly? Is all the punctuation correct and in the right place? Is the writing clear and concise, with correct grammar? Are all the cited references listed in the References section, and vice-versa? Are the figure and table citations correct?

Proofreading of text is usually done first by the reviewers, and then finished by the editors and copy editors employed by scientific publishers. A similar kind of proofreading is also done with the small tables of data found in scientific papers, mainly by reviewers familiar with the management and analysis of the data concerned.

But what about proofreading the big volumes of data that are common in biodiversity informatics? Tables with tens or hundreds of thousands of rows and dozens of columns? Who does the proofreading?

Sadly, the answer is usually “No one”. Proofreading large amounts of data isn’t easy and requires special skills and digital tools. The people who compile biodiversity data often lack the skills, the software or the time to properly check what they’ve compiled.

The result is that a great deal of the data made available through biodiversity projects like GBIF is — to be charitable — “messy”. Biodiversity data often needs a lot of patient cleaning by end-users before it’s ready for analysis. To assist end-users, GBIF and other aggregators attach “flags” to each record in the database where an automated check has found a problem. These checks find the most obvious problems amongst the many possible data compilation errors. End-users often have much more work to do after the flags have been dealt with.

In 2017, Pensoft employed a data specialist to proofread the online datasets that are referenced in manuscripts submitted to Pensoft’s journals as data papers. The results of the data-checking are sent to the data paper’s authors, who then edit the datasets. This process has substantially improved many datasets (including those already made available through GBIF) and made them more suitable for digital re-use. At blog publication time, more than 200 datasets have been checked in this way.

Note that a Pensoft data audit does not check the accuracy of the data, for example, whether the authority for a species name is correct, or whether the latitude/longitude for a collecting locality agrees with the verbal description of that locality. For a more or less complete list of what does get checked, see the Data checklist at the bottom of this blog post. These checks are aimed at ensuring that datasets are correctly organised, consistently formatted and easy to move from one digital application to another. The next reader of a digital dataset is likely to be a computer program, not a human. It is essential that the data are structured and formatted, so that they are easily processed by that program and by other programs in the pipeline between the data compiler and the next human user of the data.

Pensoft’s data-checking workflow was previously offered only to authors of data paper manuscripts. It is now available to data compilers generally, with three levels of service:

  • Basic: the compiler gets a detailed report on what needs fixing
  • Standard: minor problems are fixed in the dataset and reported
  • Premium: all detected problems are fixed in collaboration with the data compiler and a report is provided

Because datasets vary so much in size and content, it is not possible to set a price in advance for basic, standard and premium data-checking. To get a quote for a dataset, send an email with a small sample of the data topublishing@pensoft.net.


Data checklist

Minor problems:

  • dataset not UTF-8 encoded
  • blank or broken records
  • characters other than letters, numbers, punctuation and plain whitespace
  • more than one version (the simplest or most correct one) for each character
  • unnecessary whitespace
  • Windows carriage returns (retained if required)
  • encoding errors (e.g. “Dum?ril” instead of “Duméril”)
  • missing data with a variety of representations (blank, “-“, “NA”, “?” etc)

Major problems:

  • unintended shifts of data items between fields
  • incorrect or inconsistent formatting of data items (e.g. dates)
  • different representations of the same data item (pseudo-duplication)
  • for Darwin Core datasets, incorrect use of Darwin Core fields
  • data items that are invalid or inappropriate for a field
  • data items that should be split between fields
  • data items referring to unexplained entities (e.g. “habitat is type A”)
  • truncated data items
  • disagreements between fields within a record
  • missing, but expected, data items
  • incorrectly associated data items (e.g. two country codes for the same country)
  • duplicate records, or partial duplicate records where not needed

For details of the methods used, see the author’s online resources:

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Find more for Pensoft’s data audit workflow provided for data papers submitted to Pensoft journals on Pensoft’s blog.

Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS), the new journal of the Int’l Association for Vegetation Science

The journal is to launch with a big editorial and several diverse, high-quality papers over the next months

In summer 2019 IAVS decided to start a new, third association-owned journal, Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS), next to Journal of Vegetation Science (JVS) and Applied Vegetation Science (AVS).

Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS) is an international, peer-reviewed journal of plant community ecology published on behalf of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) together with its sister journals, Journal of Vegetation Science (JVS) and Applied Vegetation Science (AVS). It is devoted to vegetation survey and classification at any organizational and spatial scale and without restriction to certain methodological approaches.

The journal publishes original papers that develop new vegetation 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. Papers dealing with conceptual and theoretical bases of vegetation survey and classification are also welcome. While large-scale studies are preferred, regional studies will be considered when filling important knowledge gaps or presenting new methods. VCS also contains Permanent Collections on “Ecoinformatics” and “Phytosociological Nomenclature”.

VCS is published by the innovative publisher Pensoft as a gold open access journal. Thanks to support from IAVS, we can offer particularly attractive article processing charges (APCs) for submissions during the first two years. Moreover, there are significant reductions for IAVS members, members of the Editorial Team and authors from low-income countries or with other financial constraints (learn more about APCs here).

Article submissions are welcomed at: https://vcs.pensoft.net/

Post by Jürgen Dengler, Idoia Biurrun, Florian Jansen & Wolfgang Willner, originally published on Vegetation Science Blog: Official blog ot the IAVS journals.

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Viticulture Data Journal: Non-conventional papers foster Open Science & sustainability

Non-conventional, yet pivotal research results: data, models, methods, software, data analytics pipelines and visualisation methods, related to the field of viticulture, find a place in a newly launched, open-access and peer-reviewed Viticulture Data Journal.

Non-conventional, yet pivotal research results: data, models, methods, software, data analytics pipelines and visualisation methods, related to the field of viticulture, find a place in a newly launched, open-access and peer-reviewed Viticulture Data Journal (VDJ). The journal went live with the publication of an introductory editorial and a data paper.

The publishing venue is one of the fruits borne during the collaboration between scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft, its self-developed ARPHA Platform and the EU project AGINFRA+, whose mission is to provide a sustainable channel and data infrastructure for the use of cooperating, but not fully connected user communities working within the agricultural and food sciences. 

The novel journal brings together a wide range of topics related to the field of viticulture: from genetic research, food safety of viticultural products to climate change adaptation of grapevine varieties through grape specific research. Amongst these are:

  • Phenotyping and genotyping
  • Vine growth and development
  • Vine ecophysiology
  • Berry yield and composition
  • Genetic resources and breeding
  • Vine adaptation to climate change, abiotic and biotic stress
  • Vine propagation
  • Rootstock and clonal evaluation
  • Effects of field practices (pruning, fertilization etc.) on vine growth and quality
  • Sustainable viticulture and environmental impact
  • Ampelography
  • Plant pathology, diseases and pests of grapevine
  • Microbiology and microbiological risk assessment
  • Food safety related to table grapes, raisins, wine, etc.

With the help of the ARPHA Platform’s signature writing tool, authors are able to use a set of pre-defined, yet flexible manuscript templates: Data Paper, Methods, Emerging Techniques, Applied Study, Software Description, R Package and Commentary. Furthermore, thanks to the advanced collaborative virtual environment provided by the tool, authors, but also reviewers, editors and other invited contributors enjoy the convenience of working within the same consolidated online file all the way from the authoring and peer review stages to copy editing and publication.

“The Viticulture Data Journal was created to respond to the major technological and sociological changes that have influenced the entire process of scholarly communication towards Open Science,”

explain the editors.

“The act of scientific publishing is actually the moment when the long effort of researchers comes to light and can be assessed and used by other researchers and the wider public. Therefore, it is little wonder that the main arena of transition from Open Access to Open Science was actually the field of academic publishing,”

they add.

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The first research publication made available in VDJ is a data paper by the research team from Agricultural University of Athens: Dr Katerina Biniari, Ioannis Daskalakis, Despoina Bouza and Dr Maritina Stavrakaki. In their study, they assess and compare both the qualitative and quantitative characters of the grape cultivars ‘Mavrodafni’ and ‘Renio’, grown in different regions of the Protected Designation of Origin Mavrodafni Patras (Greece). The associated dataset, containing the mechanical properties, the polyphenolic content and the antioxidant capacity of skin extracts and must of berries of the two cultivars, is available to download as supplementary material from the article.  

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During the AGINFRA+ project, ARPHA has been extended to be used from the AGINFRA+ Virtual Research Environment (VRE), which would allow the authors to use the VRE as an additional gate to the AWT and the journal, as well as to benefit from the integration of AWT with several other services offered by the AGINFRA+ platform. The AGINFRA+ platform has been designed as a Gateway providing online access through a one-stop endpoint to services, aiming at the integration of the traditional narrative of research articles with their underlying data, software code and workflows.

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Viticulture Data Journal is indexed by Altmetric, CrossRef, Dimensions, EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, Mendeley, Microsoft Academic, Naviga (Suweco), OCLC WorldCat, OpenAIRE, OpenCitations, ReadCube, Ulrichsweb™, Unpaywall; and archived at CLOCKSS and Zenodo

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Strategic collaboration agreement signed between ScienceOpen and Pensoft

The research discovery platform ScienceOpen and Pensoft Publishers have entered into a strategic collaboration partnership with the aim of strengthening the companies’ identities as the leaders of innovative content dissemination.

The research discovery platform ScienceOpen and Pensoft Publishers have entered into a strategic collaboration partnership with the aim of strengthening the companies’ identities as the leaders of innovative content dissemination. The new cooperation will focus on the unified indexation, the integration of Pensoft’s ARPHA Platform content into ScienceOpen and the utilization of novel streams of scientific communication for the published materials.

Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for bringing novelty through its cutting-edge publishing tools and for its commitment to open access practices. In 2013, Pensoft launched the first ever, end-to-end, XML-based, authoring, reviewing and publishing workflow, now upgraded to the ARPHA Publishing Platform. As of today, ARPHA hosts over 50 open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals: the whole Pensoft portfolio in addition to titles owned by learned societies, university presses and research institutions.

As part of the strategic collaboration, all Pensoft content and journals hosted on ARPHA are indexed in the ScienceOpen’s research and discovery environment, which puts them into thematic context of over 60 million articles and books. In addition, thousands of articles across more than 20 journals were integrated into a “Pensoft Biodiversity” Collection. Combined this way, the content benefits from the special infrastructure of ScienceOpen Collections, which supports thematic groups of articles and books equipped with a unique landing page, a built-in search engine and an overview of the featured content. The Collections can be reviewed, recommended and shared by users, which facilitates academic debate and increases the discoverability of the research.

The Pensoft Biodiversity collection is available from: https://www.scienceopen.com/collection/PensoftBiodiversity

“It is certainly great news and a much-anticipated milestone for Pensoft, ARPHA and our long-year partners and supporters from ScienceOpen to have brought our collaboration to a new level by indexing the whole ARPHA-hosted content at ScienceOpen,” comments Pensoft’s and ARPHA’s CEO and founder Prof. Lyubomir Penev. “Most of all, the integration between ARPHA and ScienceOpen at an infrastructural level means that we will be able to offer this incredible service and increased visibility to newcoming journals right away. On the other hand, by streaming fresh and valuable publicly accessible content to the ScienceOpen database, these journals will be further adding to the growth of science in the open.”

Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen says, “I am particularly excited to add new high-quality, open access biodiversity content from Pensoft Publishers to the ScienceOpen discovery environment as we have a very active community of researchers on ScienceOpen creating and sharing Collections in this field. We are looking forward to working with Pensoft’s innovative journals to support their open science goals.”

The collaboration reflects not only the commitment of both Pensoft and ScienceOpen to new methods of knowledge dissemination, but also the joint mission to champion open science through innovation. The two companies will cooperate at a strategic level in order to increase the international outreach of their content and services, and to make them even more accessible to the broad community.

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About ScienceOpen:

From promotional collections to Open Access hosting and full publishing packages, ScienceOpen provides next-generation services to academic publishers embedded in an interactive discovery platform. ScienceOpen was founded in 2013 in Berlin and Boston by Alexander Grossmann and Tibor Tscheke to accelerate research communication.

How to import occurrence records into manuscripts from GBIF, BOLD, iDigBio and PlutoF

On October 20, 2015, we published a blog post about the novel functionalities in ARPHA that allows streamlined import of specimen or occurrence records into taxonomic manuscripts.

Recently, this process was reflected in the “Tips and Tricks” section of the ARPHA authoring tool. Here, we’ll list the individual workflows:

Based on our earlier post, we will now go through our latest updates and highlight the new features that have been added since then.

Repositories and data indexing platforms, such as GBIF, BOLD systems, iDigBio, or PlutoF, hold, among other types of data, specimen or occurrence records. It is now possible to directly import specimen or occurrence records into ARPHA taxonomic manuscripts from these platforms [see Fig. 1]. We’ll refer to specimen or occurrence records as simply occurrence records for the rest of this post.

Import_specimen_workflow_
[Fig. 1] Workflow for directly importing occurrence records into a taxonomic manuscript.
Until now, when users of the ARPHA writing tool wanted to include occurrence records as materials in a manuscript, they would have had to format the occurrences as an Excel sheet that is uploaded to the Biodiversity Data Journal, or enter the data manually. While the “upload from Excel” approach significantly simplifies the process of importing materials, it still requires a transposition step – the data which is stored in a database needs to be reformatted to the specific Excel format. With the introduction of the new import feature, occurrence data that is stored at GBIF, BOLD systems, iDigBio, or PlutoF, can be directly inserted into the manuscript by simply entering a relevant record identifier.

The functionality shows up when one creates a new “Taxon treatment” in a taxonomic manuscript in the ARPHA Writing Tool. To import records, the author needs to:

  1. Locate an occurrence record or records in one of the supported data portals;
  2. Note the ID(s) of the records that ought to be imported into the manuscript (see Tips and Tricks for screenshots);
  3. Enter the ID(s) of the occurrence record(s) in a form that is to be seen in the “Materials” section of the species treatment;
  4. Select a particular database from a list, and then simply clicks ‘Add’ to import the occurrence directly into the manuscript.

In the case of BOLD Systems, the author may also select a given Barcode Identification Number (BIN; for a treatment of BIN’s read below), which then pulls all occurrences in the corresponding BIN.

We will illustrate this workflow by creating a fictitious treatment of the red moss, Sphagnum capillifolium, in a test manuscript. We have started a taxonomic manuscript in ARPHA and know that the occurrence records belonging to S. capillifolium can be found on iDigBio. What we need to do is to locate the ID of the occurrence record in the iDigBio webpage. In the case of iDigBio, the ARPHA system supports import via a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID). We have already created a treatment for S. capillifolium and clicked on the pencil to edit materials [Fig. 2].

Figure-61-01
[Fig. 2] Edit materials
In this example, type or paste the UUID (b9ff7774-4a5d-47af-a2ea-bdf3ecc78885), select the iDigBio source and click ‘Add’. This will pull the occurrence record for S. capillifolium from iDigBio and insert it as a material in the current paper [Fig. 3].

taxon-treatments- 3
[Fig. 3] Materials after they have been imported
This workflow can be used for a number of purposes. An interesting future application is the rapid re-description of species, but even more exciting is the description of new species from BIN’s. BIN’s (Barcode Identification Numbers) delimit Operational Taxonomic Units (OTU’s), created algorithmically at BOLD Systems. If a taxonomist decides that an OTU is indeed a new species, then he/she can import all the type information associated with that OTU for the purposes of describing it as a new species.

Not having to retype or copy/paste species occurrence records, the authors save a lot of efforts. Moreover, they automatically import them in a structured Darwin Core format, which can easily be downloaded from the article text into structured data by anyone who needs the data for reuse.

Another important aspect of the workflow is that it will serve as a platform for peer-review, publication and curation of raw data, that is of unpublished individual data records coming from collections or observations stored at GBIF, BOLD, iDigBio and PlutoF. Taxonomists are used to publish only records of specimens they or their co-authors have personally studied. In a sense, the workflow will serve as a “cleaning filter” for portions of data that are passed through the publishing process. Thereafter, the published records can be used to curate raw data at collections, e.g. put correct identifications, assign newly described species names to specimens belonging to the respective BIN and so on.

 

Additional Information:

The work has been partially supported by the EC-FP7 EU BON project (ENV 308454, Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network) and the ITN Horizon 2020 project BIG4 (Biosystematics, informatics and genomics of the big 4 insect groups: training tomorrow’s researchers and entrepreneurs), under Marie Sklodovska-Curie grant agreement No. 642241.