eLife: a journal run by scientists, for scientists (Wellcome Trust)

Inside eLife
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- By Sir Mark Walport

Today, we announce the name and senior editorial team of eLife, the new top-tier, open access journal to be launched next year with the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust. Here Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, explains how eLife will operate in the best interests of researchers.

Until recently, the central role of traditional subscription-based academic journals in the scientific process seemed unassailable, but rapid changes in technology over recent years mean that new models of publishing scientific papers have become viable.

We must be willing to look beyond the status quo to ensure we are making the most of available technology and resources to support and extend one of the most fundamental aspects of science: communication. At its most basic, communication is the simple act of sharing knowledge; at its most inspirational, it helps us to form our ideas about the world and leads to new concepts, understanding and applications.

Formal reports of research – including the methods, data and conclusions – that are subject to the scrutiny of expert scientific reviewers are the bedrock of the ‘literature’ from which we learn and to which we constantly refer. Yet if the scientific community were to be asked to devise the best way of communicating these reports today, drawing on the full capability and capacity of the internet, is it likely we would end up with the current publishing model? I think not.

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