All that buzz

Over the last two weeks, there’s been a major media blitz around open access, which kicked off with nothing less than a front-page article in The Guardian.The Guardianwas quickly followed by the BBC, Channel 4,Financial Times,The New York Times,The Economist, and other major news outlets – all turning heads toward open access and inspiring some good conversation among… well, everyone. ( Take a look).

@CameronNeylon noted, “Nice pieces by @alokjha on #openaccess and @eLife_sciences Ppl on bus talking about OA this am!”

While eLife certainly figured prominently in these stories, the real drive behind the buzz was The Wellcome Trust’s recent announcement that they would toughen their open-access policy. To Channel 4, Wellcome’s Robert Kiley said, “the organisation was keen to maximise the impact of the research it has funded by promoting open access." eLife is just one piece of Wellcome’s very active open access program.

In fact, eLife is an initiative of The Wellcome Trust along with the U.S.-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Max Planck Society in Germany. Our three founders have established eLife as an independent, non-profit organisation. ( Read some background here).

The media coverage surfaced some comments and questions about eLife that we thought were worth a little follow up, so we’ve offered some more detail here. If you have other questions on your mind, don’t hesitate to let us know – and feel free to post a comment on this page.

1) Our launch date. TheeLifejournal is set for release in late 2012. We’ll be accepting submissions beginning this summer. (You can be notified directly by signing up here).

2) @deevybee, @js_simons, and @profgeraintress all asked abouteLife’s coverage of cognitive neuroscience. We pointed to the experts on our Board of Reviewing Editors ( Also, (for those who follow the area) Randy detailed our coverage in email, indicating that our systems and cognitive members include: Dora Angelaki (multisensory integration, computational neuroscience, cerebellum, vision, motor systems), Jody Culham (cognitive neurocience, fMRI, sensorimotor control, vision, action), Howard Eichenbaum (hippocampus, memory, learning, animal cognition, behavioral neurophysiology), Nancy Kanwisher (fMRI and human cognition), Ranulfo Romo (sensory encoding, perception, decision-making, working memory, brain circuits) and Xiao-Jing Wang (computational neuroscience, neural circuits, prefrontal cortex, working memory, decision making), with one or two more who are still considering joining us.

We’ve had great suggestions from the community on how to make sure eLife is representative of the full breadth of life and biomedical sciences, so please keep the feedback coming.

3) @Fatima_Jafferasked: “with #Wellcome's eLife on the horizon will it mean that all their funded researchers will be obliged to publish with them?”

And the answer: No. Authors choose where to publish. While HHMI, Max Planck, and Wellcome are all committed to eLife’s success, their funded investigators are in no way obligated to publish with us. Nor does the authors’ funding source have any bearing on the editorial decision.eLifeis a publication for all outstanding science whatever the funding source.

4) @noahWG pointed to another key question, saying “open access & the new journal's other offerings are great, but in the end, young sci's will need eLife papers to get a job, tenure or grants” – which is, of course, very true.

Our senior editors identified this issue at the outset and want eLife to provide early-career scientists with the best possible experience in the communication of hard-won research findings.

eLifehas already captured the imagination of many scientists (most notably the entire editorial community that will run the journal) and is backed by three of the most prestigious research organizations in the world. There can be no doubt that the work published ineLifewill be noticed – look at the media coverage this month!

We’re creating a journal that will strive for maximum influence for every published paper through immediate, free, online access for everyone in the world – not to mention the right to take results forward, free of unnecessary use restrictions – and through the use of technology to enhance content.

Everyone involved ineLifewill ensure that our authors garner all of the attention and credit they deserve from their work.

5) Finally, there were one or two comments about the economic sustainability ofeLife.

For the first few years, it will be free to publish ineLife; we will have no publication fees or other charges to authors.

With the full backing of eLife’s founders, we will focus on launching a truly outstanding open-access journal, communicating groundbreaking research content, establishing unparalleled publishing processes and services, and exploring innovative digital presentation approaches for new findings.

In time, eLife will introduce revenue streams such as publication fees, and begin to move towards economic sustainability. First, we will work with the research community to build eLife as a rock-solid venue for the very best science.

It’s been a busy month for open access and big questions on scientific publishing – certainly one of many more to come as so much changes on so many fronts. We’re happy to see lots of interest around eLife and important questions pop up. If you have more, we’re standing by – here, on Twitter (@elife_sciences and #elife) and everywhere you run into our editors.

Best to all,