# Is anyone familiar with The Open Astronomy Journal?

1. Mar 4, 2012

### Nereid

Staff Emeritus
The Open Astronomy Journal, published as part of Bentham OPEN.

From the website:

2. Mar 4, 2012

### Bobbywhy

I could not find information on how the OAJ "peer review" is set up, or the qualifications of their reviewers. I don't know if this is important, but I found this at the instructions to authors:

"PUBLICATION FEES: The publication fee details for each article published in the journal are given below:

Letters: The publication fee for each published Letter article submitted is US $600. Research Articles: The publication fee for each published Research article is US$800.

Mini-Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Mini-Review article is US $600. Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Review article is US$900.

Book Reviews: The open access fee for a published book review is US $450." 3. Mar 5, 2012 ### Nereid Staff Emeritus Here is a link to the journal's Editorial Board. Its Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Christian Corda, the Honourable Editor is Dr. George Ellis, and the two Associate Editors are Herman J. Mosquera Cuesta and Lorenzo Iorio. That seems to be a pretty distinguished line-up. The journal's review process is described on this page ("Instructions for Authors"); a quote from it: Per their website, four volumes of the Open Astronomy Journal have been published so far, one each for the years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. The first volume contains two "General Articles"; the second, 16 such papers; the third, nine; and the fourth also nine. There are altogether four "Special Issues", two each for 2010 and 2011. The first, Special Issue #001, 2010, is entitled "Dark Energy and Modified Gravity". It has eight papers, and an editorial. The second, Special Issue #002, 2010, is entitled "New Highlights in Gravitationally Lensed Quasar Research", and contains four papers (and an editorial). The third, Special Issue #001, 2011, is called "Gravitational Waves: A Challenging New Window to the Universe", and contains eight papers (plus the editorial). The last, Special Issue #002, 2011, is called "Some Initial Thoughts on Plasma Cosmology"; it has four papers (in addition to the editorial). Three of the four Special Issue editorials are by members of the Editorial Board; the exception is Special Issue #001, 2010 ("Dark Energy and Modified Gravity"), which has an editorial by S. Nojiri and S.D. Odintsov. The editor of the third (Special Issue #001, 2011, "Gravitational Waves: A Challenging New Window to the Universe") is the OAJ's Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Christian Corda. The Instructions for Authors page says this about Special Issues: All in all it seems to be a reputable, peer-reviewed journal, in the field of astronomy (though perhaps not quite as good, yet, as what it aims to be). Except for one thing ... (to be continued) 4. Mar 5, 2012 ### Bobbywhy Nereid, Thank you for all the information on the Open Astronomy Journal, especially the peer review part. Seems efficient to use the internet, too, for faster reviewing. I scanned multiple articles and they certainly appeared "reputable" to me, a non-astronomer. I will continue to consult it. In my opinion it is a great idea to disseminate astronomical research for free. Too many times I have been stopped by a demand to pay first to read some interesting paper. 5. Mar 6, 2012 ### twofish-quant The quality of the articles doesn't seem to be very high. There are a few articles here and there that don't look awful, but on the whole the quality is pretty dreadful. The only point of peer review is for quality control, and they don't seem to be doing a good job at that. Personally, I don't really see the point of this journal. Anything worth reading is going to be at the Los Alamos Preprint server or ADS. You do know about http://adswww.harvard.edu/ and http://www.arxiv.org/ ? 6. Mar 6, 2012 ### Vanadium 50 Staff Emeritus They are not. You will be filling your brain with crap. As are many of the papers. This is not the sign of a reputable journal. Furthermore, "Plasma Cosmology" has moved from fringe to crackpottery. But worst of all, Bentham has accepted SCIgen-generated fake articles. So there is no peer review worthy of the name. 7. Mar 6, 2012 ### Nereid Staff Emeritus I found this, which may be (one example of) what you're referring to: OA publisher accepts fake paper You left out the key part of my earlier post, in your quote; namely, "Except for one thing ... (to be continued)" Yes, Special Issue #002, in Volume 4 (2011) - containing four papers, in addition to the editorial - is crackpottery of the finest (i.e. worst) kind. It is blatantly obvious that none of those papers went through any kind of peer review*. What puzzles me is why first-rate astrophysicists - such as George Ellis - seem willing to have their names associated with a journal which has so obviously failed in its stated aims. Equally puzzling - or perhaps more puzzling - is the fact that Jeremy Dunning-Davies is the editor of that special issue (he's also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board). IMHO, a reputable journal - one which seeks to live up to the kind of aims OAJ posts about itself - would make very sure that the editors of special issues were people who are experts in the topics covered by those issues. In this case, Dunning-Davies seems to have no track record in plasma astrophysics (per ADS), or even in astronomy, cosmology, plasma physics, or astrophysics. Worse, one arXiv preprint - of which he is co-author - was "withdrawn by arXiv administrators due to excessive unattributed and verbatim text overlap with the pre-existing Wikipedia article on redshift". * or if they did, none of the reviewer(s)' suggestions etc were followed. 8. Mar 8, 2012 ### twofish-quant Inside of every creative astrophysicist, there is a crackpot trying to get out. A lot of being a productive scientist is to try to keep that inner crackpot under control. It's very common to have someone that is distinguished in one area, and who is a total nut job at something else. In fact I'd go so far to say that in some cases being a nut job is useful, because the person got the Nobel for the one situation in which he was a crank, but was right. I know of one Nobel Prize winner that was convinced that black holes do not exist, and so no one dared mention the word "black hole" around him. But the journal article format is a horrible way of presenting non-standard ideas. What you really want is one brief review article, and Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics had a great article a few years back that summarized all of the various non-standard cosmologies. That way you can quickly familiarize yourself with the crackpot theories and ideas, so that they are in the back of your mind. However, for the purpose of being an avenue for totally crackpot ideas, even OAJ is worse than Arxiv.org. Submitting something to Arxiv,org is free. 9. Mar 8, 2012 ### Nereid Staff Emeritus It may well be that 'the inner crackpot' is very common, possibly a trait of the majority, in the sense of wishing/hoping/etc to be the person who finds/invents/presents a radically new idea that is also the next major chapter in mainstream physics textbooks*. This particular OAJ Special Issue is rather different however. Consider, for example, that the editor (Dunning-Davies) seems to have had no qualms with what seems remarkably like plagiarism (the arxiv preprint he was co-author of; see my earlier post). Now the Thornhill paper in that Special Issue is full of Figures that are both the work of others and unattributed (to take just one example). May we conclude that Dunning-Davies is either incredibly slack (he did not, in fact, review Thornhill's paper before giving it the go-ahead for publication) or condones borderline intellectual fraud? Another example: one's inner crackpot is at peace with the need to be scrupulously accurate when it comes to summarising the work one cites, to referencing all the central ideas associated with your paradigm shift, to doing a diligent literature search, etc, etc, etc. In a word, there is a bedrock of scholarship principles you do not abandon, under any circumstances. Yet the instances in those Special Issue papers where such principles are prominent by the absence are legion; for example, many of Scott's primary sources are press releases and science popularisations! And Smith's contains at least one instance of his gloss being opposite to the stated conclusion of the paper he cites. * perhaps even me; see, for example, this analysis I did, some time ago; do you think I would have invested so much time and effort had I not hoped, against all odds, to find a rough diamond there? 10. Mar 8, 2012 ### Dotini Even as a retired layman, I feel your pain. Once a topic such as "plasma cosmology" is declared anathema, apostate and excommunicated to outer darkness, then polite, educated, respectable people should not discuss it. Naturally, this leaves the field open to amateurs and opportunists to exploit for even more marginal purposes such as catastrophism. Respectfully submitted, Steve 11. Mar 8, 2012 ### dipole Are you refering to Ivar Giaever? 12. Mar 9, 2012 ### twofish-quant It's not so much that one shouldn't discuss it, rather that there is nothing new to discuss. One should keep track of crackpot theories in ones field, since every now and then there is a crackpot idea that turns out to be right. (One example, is the anthropic principle which is starting to be respectable among cosmologists.) However, journal articles are to report *new* results, and if someone comes up with the same arguments and same results that you've had over the last ten years, then there is nothing new to say. In that case, the best form of communication is a review article, with maybe an update every three years to see if anything has changed. There is an excellent review article on non-standard cosmologies in Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and it's a nice time saver because you can get a good summary of all of the crackpot ideas in one go. The other thing about crackpot ideas is that in cosmology, most crackpot ideas are not *original* crackpot ideas. Plasma cosmology has been around since the 1960's, and based on what we knew in 1965, it seems perfectly reasonable. But we've seen a lot of stuff since 1965, and it doesn't make any sense any more. Now if someone comes up with a *new* variation on plasma cosmology, then that would be interesting but just give me an abstract of what makes this different. It's not so much amateurs, since there are a lot of crackpots with tenured professorships. There's also a fine line between "total crackpot" and "distinguished scientist with strange ideas." There's one former president of AAS that has some very odd ideas on galactic jets. Last edited: Mar 9, 2012 13. Mar 9, 2012 ### turbo You don't have to be fringe or crackpot to get these offers of publication in on-line journals. I get at least one a month, perhaps two. If you have a decent paper in the works, polish it up and submit it to a Springer journal (no per-page-fees). They will assign a referee or two to either tear it up or suggest improvements. When the paper is tweaked to conform to the standards of your referees, Springer's editor will suggest that you submit the paper to ArXiv before they present it in their on-line or print journals. Pretty classy operation. If you have to pay$600-800 plus per-page and formatting fees to a journal, you are dealing with a "vanity publisher" that has no credibility.

14. Mar 9, 2012

### Nereid

Staff Emeritus
While not disagreeing with anything you said, I would like to point out that the Special Issue ("Some Initial Thoughts on Plasma Cosmology") is not, in fact, about plasma cosmology. :surprised Well, not the plasma cosmology you were, very likely, referring to (i.e. that of Alfvén). As the Dunning-Davies editorial makes clear (or not), the four 'content' papers of that Special Issue are about "the electric universe".

Thornhill's paper ("Toward a Real Cosmology in the 21st Century") is actually quite explicitly anti-science. The abstract begins by baldly stating that cosmology is one of the humanities:
Later he presents contemporary cosmology as a religion, with "the electric universe" as a different, competing religion; for example:
Given this, it is not a surprise to find so many of the key aspects of scientific papers missing (e.g. attributions, accurate summaries of others' work, clear separation in the presentation of data and discussion).

15. Mar 20, 2012

### Nereid

Staff Emeritus
It seems that Ellis has withdrawn, and is no longer associated with OAJ (source).

16. Mar 20, 2012

### matt.o

So you would class ApJ as a vanity publisher that has no credibility because they have page charges?

17. Mar 20, 2012

### turbo

I was commenting on on-line journals that have no printing and distribution costs. When they have to make all their money off per-page fees, formatting charges, etc, they are playing to researchers who have no reasonable expectation of getting published in respected print journals.

18. Mar 22, 2012

### twofish-quant

It's much worse than that.

They are playing to people that either can get in or don't know about the Los Alamos Preprint Server. That standards for getting your paper onto the preprint server is very low and there are a bunch of crappy papers there, but it's overwhelmed by the good stuff, and the fact that there is some garbage in Los Alamos Preprints makes it in my view more effective, since you can't get any "vanity" by just uploading a paper there.

Asking someone to pay several hundred dollars for something they could get for free looks a lot like a "anti-intelligence" test.

19. Mar 21, 2014

### EyeSeeTee

I accidently came across this thread which amazingly is still "open" so I thought I would toss my two cents worth in to the subject of respectable vs anti/un-respectable journals and their respective roles in the modern age of institutionalized science. It is, of course, a favorite past time of post-docs and other scientific back benchers to mock crack pot scientistsand have a good ego elevating snigger or two over lunch....(we all know a crack pot paper when we see it). But, for some time, it has been difficult for a genuinely new and/or original idea to gain any attention or scrutiny of anybody, especially as the focus of individual scientists becomes more and more specialized and narrow and the rewards for questioning fundamental concepts diminish one's career prospects in inverse proportion to the rate a particle gains inertia as its velocity approaches the speed of light. (Of course, all the greatest scientific minds, except Faraday, Maxwell, Poincare and Wheeler, promoted erroneous ideas, well, .....actually, only Wheeler, as Faraday, Maxwell and Poincare believed there was an aether...or maybe they were right and Wheeler will ultimately be proved to have been in error.....).

An excerpt from Kastrup's, On the Advancements of Conformal Transformations and their Associated Symmetries in Geometry and Theoretical Physics
arxiv:0808.2730v1, is illustrative of what young (and seasoned) scientists exploring new ideas experienced from the 1920s on:

The situation for special conformal transformations was more difficult at that time:
First, there was their long bad reputation of being related to a somewhat obscure coordinate
change with respect to accelerated systems! I always felt the associated resistance
any time I gave a talk on my early work [179]. Also, it appeared that scale invariance
was the dominating symmetry because special conformal invariance seemed to occur in
the footsteps of scale invariance. This changed drastically later, too.

Even today, a paper advancing a novel idea submitted to the most reputable scientific journals can go unpublished because the editorial staff cannot find reviewers willing to evaluate the paper or ones that are competent enough to give a coherent review. Editors themselves are pressured to consider papers not on their scientific merit but rather, on the basis of the breadth of the readership (how many online purchases), who would be interested in the article, regardless of the merits of the paper.

So, if you are a maturing scientist and you know you have made a fundamental new discovery that addresses a problem that casts doubt on a key issue underlying the prevailing ideas held by the consensus of "respected" scientists, what are your alternatives? You submit the paper to Journal A++++ and the editor explains that they are having a difficult time getting any scientists to review the paper. Then they get back to you apologizing for the unseemly delay (time is of the essence to every young scientist trying to publish--just read Einstein's letters), and advise you that they have found two scientists willing to review the paper. When the reviews appear, its clear that one may have grasped the essence of the paper but couldn't comprehend the mathematical analyses and the other didn't (as an arbitrary example), comprehend the concept of a field free vacuum as an analytical paradigm for analyzing properties of Maxwell's equations. The editor acknowledges that the reviews are less than satisfactory, takes into consideration that there are no errors in the mathematical analysis, and decides that the journal just cant justify publication under the circumstances after over a year has elapsed from the original date of submission. (That's what arXiv is for.....??)

The situation reflects the fact that scientists holding leading positions have very little interest in encouraging ideas that are not consistent with, or do not advance the work they are doing in the field, and if that is the case, the journals who earn income from paid subscriptions and articles have little incentive to publish papers that are not on their face, going to generate interest among the leaders in the field. In fact, the argument can be made that the publication of articles in the leading journals (or any journal) at this point is little more that an egoistic/economically motivated exercise, more a kin to recording a novel invention in the patent office than communicating new ideas to an interested audience of one's colleagues; (we have group email lists, blogs, forums and twitter for that).

Therefore, I think the argument can be made that there is a place for these "paid" journals which give free online access to articles which are locked out of the "respected" journals by accident or on purpose. Its precisely the community of scientists who are publishing in these journals together with the sniggering back benchers who are always looking for the latest crack pot idea to be published to poke fun at who are likely to come across a truly novel scientific paper and have a second take (after all, they downloaded the paper for free...I mean, what post doc wants to pay for a journal article if they cant get it through the university library system), and bring it to they're advisor to have a look at.

What Kastrup reports his experience was as a young scientist was a backlash of leading scientists and backbenchers who misinterpreted Robertson's comments on Milne's and Page's work. It stigmatized the field for over 30 years. But back then, if you knew the right scientists, it was possible to get your papers published.

It remains that most new scientific ideas, just like most new inventions, are of little value. But, that does not mean that we shouldn't continue to encourage the publication of new ideas regardless of their immediate apparent scientific merit. In which journals? Do the authors really have a choice in the matter? It is true that one might cringe at the quality of the articles that are published in the same issue of the journal, but at least the paper has been published and is readily accessible to a broad audience and retrievable upon a simple google search.

20. Mar 22, 2014

### Staff: Mentor

I pretty much stopped taking you seriously when I reached this point.