Today, 16 September 2023, we are celebrating our tenth anniversary: an important milestone that has prompted us to reflect on the incredible journey thatBiodiversity Data Journal (BDJ) has been through.
From the very beginning, our mission was clear: to revolutionise the way biodiversity data is shared, accessed, and harnessed. This journey has been one of innovation, collaboration, and a relentless commitment to making biodiversity data FAIR – Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.
Over the past 10 years, BDJ, under the auspices of our esteemed publisher Pensoft, has emerged as a trailblazing force in biodiversity science. Our open-access platform has empowered researchers from around the world to publish comprehensive papers that seamlessly blend text with morphological descriptions, occurrences, data tables, and more. This holistic approach has enriched the depth of research articles and contributed to the creation of an interconnected web of biodiversity information.
In addition, by utilising ARPHA Writing Tool and ARPHA Platform as our entirely online manuscript authoring and submission interface, we have simplified the integration of structured data and narrative, reinforcing our commitment to simplifying the research process.
One of our most significant achievements is democratising access to biodiversity data. By dismantling access barriers, we have catalysed the emergence of novel research directions, equipping scientists with the tools to combat critical global challenges such as biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, and climate fluctuations.
We firmly believe that data should be openly accessible to all, fostering collaboration and accelerating scientific discovery. By upholding the FAIR principles, we ensure that the datasets accompanying our articles are not only discoverable and accessible, but also easy to integrate and reusable across diverse fields.
As we reflect on the past decade, we are invigorated by the boundless prospects on the horizon. We will continue working on to steer the global research community towards a future where biodiversity data is open, accessible, and harnessed to tackle global challenges.
Ten years of biodiversity research
To celebrate our anniversary, we have curated some of our most interesting and memorable BDJ studies from the past decade.
Recently, news outlets were quick to cover a new species of ‘snug’ published in our journal.
This Golden Retriever trained to monitor hermit beetle larvae proved once again the incredible capabilities of our canine friends.
Who could forget this tiny fly named after the former Governor of California?
Or this snail named after climate activist Greta Thunberg?
New discoveries are always exciting, but some of our favourite research focuses on formerly lost species, back where they belong.
Like the griffon vulture, successfully reintroduced to Bulgaria after fifty years.
Citizen science has shown time and time again that it holds an important position in biodiversity research.
This group, for example, who found a beetle the size of a pinhead in Borneo.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our authors, reviewers, readers, and the entire biodiversity science community for being integral parts of this transformative journey. Together, we have redefined scientific communication, and we will continue to push the boundaries of knowledge.
Since its early days, RIO has enjoyed quite positive reactions from the open-minded academic community for its innovative approach to Open Science in practice: it provides a niche that had long been missing, namely the publication of early, intermediate and generally unconventional research outcomes from all around the research cycle (e.g. grant proposals, data management plans, project deliverables, reports, policy briefs, conference materials) in a cross-disciplinary scientific journal. In fact, several months after its launch, in 2016, the journal was acknowledged with the SPARC Innovator Award.
‘Alternative’ research publications
In times when posting a preprint was seen as a novel and rather bold practice across many fields, RIO facilitated much deeper dives into the research process, in order to unveil scientific knowledge and the process by which it is gathered, well before any final conclusions have been drawn. Long story short, to date, RIO has published 33 Research Ideas, 78 Grant Proposals, 16 Data Management Plans, 33 Workshop Reports and 5 PhD Project Plans, in addition to plenty of other early, interim and final non-traditional research outcomes, as well as conventional articles. Over time, RIO has kept adding additional article types to its list of publication types, with a few more expected in the near future.
What’s more, over the years, we’ve already observed how papers published in RIO successfully followed up on the continuity of the research process. For example, the Grant Proposal for the “Exploring the opportunities and challenges of implementing open research strategies within development institutions” project, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), was followed by the project’s Data Management Plan a year later.
Five years later, the figures reflecting the usage and engagement with the content published in RIO are evidently supportive of the value of having non-final and unconventional academic publications. For instance, the Grant Proposal for the COST ActionDNAqua-Net, a still ongoing project dedicated to the development of novel genetic tools for bioassessment and monitoring of aquatic ecosystems, is the article with the most total views in RIO’s publication record to date. In the category of sub-article elements, whose usage is also tracked at the journal, the most viewed figure belongs to a Project Report and illustrates a sample code meant to be used in future neuroimaging studies. Similarly, the most viewed table ever published in RIO is part of a Workshop Report that summarises ASAPbio‘s third workshop, dedicated to the technical aspects of services related to the promotion of preprints in the biomedical and other life science communities.
Response to societal challenges
A unique and defining staple for RIO since the very beginning has also been the pronounced engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as formulated by the United Nations right around the time of RIO’s launch. In order to highlight the societal impact of published research, RIO lets authors map their articles to the SDGs relevant to their paper. Once published, the article displays the associated badge(s) next to its title. Readers of the journal can even search RIO’s content by SDG, in the same way they would filter articles by subject, publication types, date or funding agency. Next on the list for RIO is to add another level of granularity to the SDGs mapping. The practice has already been piloted by mapping relevant RIO articles to the ten targets under SDG14 (Life below water).
Taking transparency, responsibility and collaboration in academia and scholarly publishing up another notch, RIO requires for reviews to be publicly available. In addition, the journal supports post-publication reviews, where peers are free to post their review anytime. 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. A fine example is a Review Article exploring the biodiversity-related issues and challenges across Southeast Asia, which currently has a total of three public peer reviews, one of which is provided two years after the publication of the paper.
Public, transparent and perpetual peer review, pre- and/or post-publication
What’s more striking about peer review at RIO, however, is that it is not always mandatory. Given that the journal publishes many article types that have already been scrutinised by a legitimate authority – for instance, Grant Proposals that have previously been evaluated by a funder or defended PhD Theses – it only makes sense to avoid withholding these publications and duplicating associated evaluation efforts. On such occasions, 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.
On the other hand, where the article type of a manuscript requires pre-publication review, to avoid potential delays caused by the review process and editorial decisions, RIO encourages the authors to post their pre-review manuscript as a preprint on the recently launched ARPHA Preprints platform, subject to a quick editorial screening, which would only take a few days.
Further, RIO has now abandoned the practice of burdening the journal’s editors with the time-consuming task of finding reviewers, and instead requiring the submitting author to invite suitable reviewers upon submission, who are then immediately and 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 reviews go public, while the final decision about the acceptance of the paper lies with the editor, who is also overlooking the process and able to intervene and invite additional reviewers anytime, if necessary.
Project-driven knowledge hub
The most significant novelty at RIO, however, is perhaps the newly assumed role of the journal as “a project-driven knowledge hub“, targeting specifically the needs of research projects, conference organisers and institutions. For them, RIO provides a one-stop source for the outputs of their scientists, in order to comply with the requirements of their funders or management, or simply to facilitate the discoverability, reusability and citability of their academic outputs and to highlight their interconnectedness.
Unlike typical permanent article collections, already widely used in scholarly publishing, with RIO, collection owners can take advantage of the unique opportunity to add a wide range of research outputs, including such published elsewhere, in order to provide even greater context to the assembled research outputs in their project- or institution-branded article collection (see the Horizon 2020 Project Path2Integrity‘s project collection as an example).
For example, a project coordinator could open a collection under the brand of the project, and start by publishing the Grant Proposal, followed shortly by Data and Software Management Plans and Workshop Reports. Thus, even at this early point in the project’s development, the funder – and with them everyone else – would already have strong evidence of the project’s dedication to transparency and active science communication. Later on, the project’s participants would all be able to easily add to the project’s collection by either submitting their diverse research outputs straight to RIO and having it accepted by the collection lead editor, or providing metadata and link to their publication from elsewhere, even preprints. If the document is published outside of RIO, its metadata, i.e. author names and affiliations, article title and publication date, show up in the collection, while a click on the item will lead to the original publication. As the project progresses, the team behind it could add more and more outputs (e.g. Project Reports, Guidelines and Policy Briefs), continuously updating the public and the relevant stakeholders about the development of their work. Eventually, the collection will be able to provide a comprehensive and fully transparent report of the project from start to finish.
Acta Biologica Sibirica, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of Altai State University, with its content on original research in the field of experimental and field biology, moves to Pensoft and the publisher’s scholarly platform ARPHA. The journal has been published since 2015 and follows all the standards in modern biological research and Open Access policy. The first papers published in 2020 are already available on a brand new user-friendly website, running on ARPHA publishing platform.
Acta Biologica Sibirica is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal on the biodiversity of Siberia and the adjacent lands by Altai State University. Since 2015, it has been publishing original research in the field of experimental and field biology.
Starting from 2020, Acta Biologica Sibirica moves to the full-featured technologically advanced platform ARPHA and will be published in collaboration with the scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft.
Pensoft’s original publishing system ARPHA allows Acta Biologica Sibirica to publish original research papers, reviews, short communications, letters and discussion papers, book reviews and memorial articles. The scholarly platform was designed to facilitate authors in the manuscript writing, submission and review process as end-to-end experience, including publication of the data and multimedia content in the form, suitable for both enhanced high-tech human and machine discoverability of the scholarly outputs.
Acta Biologica Sibirica accepts for publication papers in taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, faunistics, floristics, biological systematics, nature conservation and protected areas. In the fields of faunistics and floristics there are several types of articles, available for submission: floral and faunal lists on any region of the world, faunal and floral discoveries (e.g. species newly recorded in a particular region, additions to previously published inventories), papers on methodology of faunal and floral studies.
«Our basic task is to turn our journal into a high-quality world-class publication. Without the help of modern publishers, this is almost impossible. The choice of the publisher was perfectly logical – the reputation of Pensoft Publishers and its founder, the famous Bulgarian zoologist Lubomir Penev, is impeccable. To stand in one cohort with powerful publications with a long history is an honor for us. High standards of editing and reviewing manuscripts, the absolute level of originality and scientific novelty – these are the criteria on which we will rely»,
comments the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Professor of Altai University Roman Yakovlev.
«At Pensoft, we are delighted to initiate this wonderful partnership with yet another renowned research institution in Russia, namely Altai State University. With our long-year experience in zoological and biodiversity research publishing and dissemination, I am certain that the journal has found a fitting place in the family of Pensoft and ARPHA»,
comments Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.
Within the pioneering papers published in the renewed journal, there is a research article about the first result of DNA-studies on the Central Asiatic owlet moths in the genus Euchalcia. The studied specimens were collected in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan during the expeditions of the Russian Entomological Society in 2017-2019. When comparing a specific mitochondrial gene (cytochrome C oxidase subunit I or COI) between various species, the scientists revealed that the difference amongst European Euchalcia species is smaller than the one amongst high-mountainous Central Asiatic species.
Another study records the first occurrence of the moorland clouded yellow in Altai Region. The butterfly was found to share a mitochondrial barcode with some specimens from mountain populations from the Alps and the Czech Republic.
Altai State University is one of the leading Russian classical higher education institutions established in 1973. It is a major educational, research and cultural center located in the Asian part of the country, integrated into the international academic community, training the intellectual elite and conducting high-impact research.
The unique geographical position of Altai region, located in the center of Asia predestinates the University’s mission – to appear as an international research and educational center that integrates, develops and spreads the modern Western, Russian and Asian knowledge in education, science and culture within the Asian region.
ARPHA is the first end-to-end, narrative- and data-integrated publishing solution that supports the full life cycle of a manuscript, from authoring to reviewing, publishing and dissemination. ARPHA provides accomplished and streamlined production workflows that can be customized according to the journal’s needs. The platform enables a variety of publishing models through a number of options for branding, production and revenue models to choose from.
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 originalpapers 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).
A full-featured, open access publishing platform for journals, books and data, which comes with an extensive list of services and features – both automated and human-provided – to adapt to the individual needs of any client journal. But how does that translate into practice?
The latest scholarly titles to join the ranks of ARPHA might just provide a perfect example of the capabilities of the platform to accommodate the specificity of scholarly journal across sciences, audiences, geographies and languages.
Amsterdam University Press strengthens partnership with ARPHA by launching two brand new journals
Not only was MAB the first journal on the platform that publishes articles exclusively in a language other than English, but also became an impressive precedent with its nearly 100-year content that got successfully dusted off and fitted into the user-friendly digital environment of today. All papers ever issued in MAB since its launch in 1923, were re-published, so that each could be assigned with a DOI; have its metadata registered on CrossRef; and its article content fully searchable within the PDF copy.
All three make use of ARPHA’s white-label publishing solution, which allows for AUP to carry its recognisable logo through a unified banner across the websites of the journals. Unlike MAB, however, JEL and HMC are to have their articles published exclusively in English to further promote their international scope and focus.
Heritage, Memory and Conflict Journal (HMC)
Heritage, Memory and Conflict Journal is a brand new journal launched to trace back the remnants of the past – be it physical or anecdotal – back to their roots in the days of old. How do memory sites and discourses operate as vehicles at local, national and transnational levels and what indeed is the ‘cargo’ they carry? This is the type of questions authors from across disciplines – academic, artistic and industrial – will be trying to answer when preparing their manuscripts for HMC.
Journal of European Landscapes (JEL)
Similarly, the second newly launched Journal of European Landscapesis to turn to history and cultural heritage, in order to understand the present use of the past when it comes to landscape. JEL’s founders point out that while Europe’s landscapes have so far enjoyed quite a lot of scientific attention, there isn’t a journal to address its indisputable and critical connection to heritage, even though the latter is what connects historical research with modern planning and management.
With its transfer to ARPHA, VCS fulfils the mission of the union to move to Open Access. Interestingly, the journal supports two permanent sections: Ecoinformatics and Phytosociological Nomenclature. There, authors can submit certain unique article types: Review and Synthesis and Short/Long Database Reports.
Devoted to plant community ecology, VCS publishes original research that works toward the development of novel vegetation classifications, as well as applied studies that use such typologies. Particularly encouraged are methodological studies that design and compare tools for vegetation classification and mapping.
The editorial management opted to have the journal co-published with Pensoft: the academic publisher and technology provider standing behind ARPHA. Thus, by default, the journal receives some extra perks as a result of Pensoft’s partnerships with leading innovators in the scholarly communication domain. An excellent example would be the indexing and addition of each Plant Sociology article by the research discovery platform ScienceOpenin the “Pensoft Biodiversity” collection, following a recent strategic collaboration between the two Open Science champions.
With a wide scope covering vegetation studies from plant community to landscape level, Plant Sociology puts a special focus on topics such as plant sociology and vegetation survey for developing ecological models, as well as plant classification, monitoring, assessment, management and conservation, as long as the studies are based on rigorous and quantitative measures of physical and biological components.
Adding up to the well-pronounced biodiversity theme in ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s journal portfolios, as well as the “Pensoft Biodiversity” collection on ScienceOpen, is the first Georgian journal to join the lines of the publishing platform. Caucasiana is to be co-published by the top biodiversity research centre in the region: Ilia State University in Tbilisi and Pensoft.
The scholarly outlet that we’ll soon see on ARPHA Platform is in fact a successor of an earlier journal launched by the Institute of Zoology of the Georgian Academy of Science that has been revamped top-to-bottom. Transformed into a technologically advanced publishing venue, Caucasiana’s task is to handle the growing research interest in the incredible, yet surprisingly overlooked animal, plant and fungal life of Caucasus and adjacent regions.
Research published in Caucasiana will be well-positioned to bring this hotspot of biodiversity and endemism into focus for the global conservation movement.
For the first time, ESE will open up its content to the public from day one of its publication, thanks to its move to ARPHA. While digital and print subscriptions used to be included as part of the association’s membership packages, other readers would have had to wait six months after print publication to receive free access.
Launched in 2003, ESE’s aim has been to keep editors posted about everything they need to know concerning scholarly communication. To do so, the journal publishes research articles, meeting reports, essays and viewpoints, as well as book and website reviews. Especially for members of the association, ESE takes care to highlight upcoming events and provide resources and publications, considered to be of their interest.
For the first time, the Bulgarian Journal of Cardiology will make use of the soon-to-be-released English-Bulgarian bilingual publishing solution from ARPHA. Similarly to the English-Russian approach to journal publishing, which was presented in Moscow in early December, ARPHA will allow for users of the Bulgarian Journal of Cardiology to not only publish papers in both English and Bulgarian, but also enjoy a top-to-bottom Bulgarian user interface.
Being the third oldest of world’s currently existing entomological periodicals, the Museum für Naturkunde’s historical journal has never ceased to progressively make a difference in the world of systematic entomology, as well as science in general.
Originally founded in the distant 1857 under the name of Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift by the young and dedicated visionary Ernst Gustav Kraatz and the Berliner Entomologischer Verein (BEV) society, the journal was intended to turn into the publishing platform of the soon to be established German Entomological Society (Deutsche Entomologische Gesellschaft).
The journal managed to overcome a number of perils, which dominated the first fifty years of its existence. Those included two world wars, splitting of the society and personal controversies. Nevertheless, the title was only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. In retrospect, the journal has published the astonishing total of 22,613 species new to science.
Most of the credit to all those glorious defeats goes to the Kraatz, who promoted a number of nomenclature rules and practices in entomology that scientists abide by to this day.
Amongst the latest steps in building DEZ’s excellent and solid reputation was joining the ranks of openly accessible academic titles when it moved to Pensoft – a scholarly publisher well-known for its dedication to transparent and easily discoverable open science.
In an era, where specimens were commonly kept in personal collections and curators could deny or allow access to material at their sole discretion, Kraatz was already a fervent proponent of inclusive and facilitated access to knowledge. It was his desire to help any entomology aficionado that made him plan and eventually establish the Entomological National Museum to bring together the collections and libraries of all German entomologists. The institution is still standing today under the name of DEI – Deutsches Entomologisches Institut.
“It would have certainly pleased Gustav Kraatz that since the transfer of the DEZ to open access with Pensoft in 2014 all articles are freely accessible to anyone anywhere in the world, likewise facilitating the access to knowledge,” says the journal’s Editor-in-Chief Dr. Dominique Zimmermann.
“Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift is the journal I’ve grown up with as entomologist some 30 years ago,” adds Prof. Lyubomir Penev, Pensoft’s founder and CEO. “At that time it was published in East Germany, hence it was easy to access, read and publish with if you were an Eastern European scientist. It’s delightful for me to be part of this iconic title’s journey on the road to next-generation technology, innovation and openness.”
At Pensoft, we would like to congratulate all editors, authors and reviewers of DEZ for yet another conquered milestone and express our deepest gratitude for sharing this marvelous achievement with us.
We are looking forward to many more decades of disseminating the finest of entomological research with the world!
A special Editorial was recently published in DEZ to celebrate the anniversary and conclude the journal for 2017.