The original intent of academic publication to disseminate information and findings to the community for scientific progress has taken different twists and turns particularly in the last few decades. With the Internet, there is now the option of E-publications, and more recently, open access publishing to make articles freely available to readers. No longer are the articles restricted to subscribing academics, but now also to the general public. Yet, one should not forget that the institutionalization of academic research, particularly for science and technology, also included publications as a performance indicator of the research findings, and its value.
Today scientific publishing is a significant business. There is no lack of new journals and new publications that overwhelms the academic. Many journals are also frequently started by publishing companies, and many are making huge profits from the concept of open access where the authors pay for their findings to be made freely available to the public in the concept of open access. It is surreal that a few decades ago, self-publishing was also called vanity publishing, but now with the revolution of open access, it has become not only the norm, but essentially mainstream.
As discussed in my editorial for another journal (Gan SKE, 2018) that “while open access is the new direction for academic publishing, it often comes with a high cost for the authors. Not only are the research funds used to fund their actual research costs, often it also has to fund manpower and overhead costs. With open access, research funds are now further diverted to pay for publications. It is not surprising that many older academics feel that open access journals are of lower quality, failing to balance safeguarding good science and maintaining a profit for the publisher.” There is now a slight unwanted tilt from the dissemination of science to profit making in the business of scientific publishing.
There is no doubt that the publishing business, being not at all low cost, must be sustainable to run its own operations, but more often than not, profit is the foremost consideration, even superseding the dissemination of findings to the community. There is thus a strong need for a re-balancing in the academic scientific publishing field on both dissemination and financially sustainable operations.
The solution may come in public funded academic publishing houses, though there are not many of those springing up, not to mention that good academia should be free of political censure and bureaucracy. Yet, science for science alone is possibly an unattainable idealistic position in the real world that does run on money. Current academic publishing is not free from the influence of power, fame, and money. In fact, cracks in the current publishing process where the reviewer generally reviews papers at no cost, are resulting in difficulties to find suitable and willing impartial voluntary reviewers. Applaudable attempts to give academics recognition for their voluntary work in peer-review (e.g. Publons, Van Noorden, 2014) have been met with some success, although realistically, until one can get promotions or tenure in institutionalized academic based on such good-will review work, it might take a while before the crunch of impartial suitable reviewers could be satisfactory solved. To this, there may be no quick solution in the horizon.
Allowing scientists to take helm of scientific publishing may be a solution to many problems mentioned above. Many scientists have seen the possible detrimental effects on science when it is managed by bureaucrats and profit-driven businesses. If one does not go to the best lawyer for a surgery, nor the best surgeon for his legal matters, why is science, particularly scientific publishing not in the management of scientists? It is acknowledged that beneficial practices are indeed in place where the Editor-in-Chief and the Editorial board oversee the content of the journal, providing insulation to prevent the science from being influenced by the business, and to a certain extent, the business from the science. Yet, there may be occasions where there will be clashes in directions due to business models rather than the science.
It may be too idealistic to expect journals to be run in a not-for-profit model unless backed up sustainably by a charity. Publishing does have its operating costs. What was perhaps tilted in today’s academia is the great cost of publishing for authors even though open access is a great idea, and in its original purpose, fulfilling the purpose of disseminating research findings. Perhaps journals run privately in a company owned by scientist(s) that are satisfied in full-time employment might be a novel solution to the betterment of the field towards a sustainable purpose. While one cannot exclude human greed from the equation, the affordability of the publishing costs would itself be a testament to the purposes and intentions.
Following an amicable transfer from SpringerNature with effect from 1 April 2018 (Gan, 2018), the journal now resides in its new home, a small start-up – APD SKEG Pte Ltd - to host the journal. The start-up was setup primarily to host the journal alongside other scientific outreach efforts, including a student journal, and scientific affiliated services to maintain a sustainable business model.
Running independently from cumbersome systems, the journal is now able to provide more flexible services and affordable article-processing fees while continuing to maintain the dissemination of scientific outputs pertaining to the area of scientific phone apps and mobile devices. It is crucial as the first and only specialized journal of the field that an outlet for scientific recognition in the fledging field be continued. Not that the field itself is still fledging (we have now many generations of smartphones and devices), but the scientific recognition and status of the field remains in its infancy.
Together with APD Trove, a new student journal (www.studentjournal.apdskeg.com), APD SKEG Pte Ltd is now a registered member of CrossRef, and articles published in “Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices” or “SPAMD” will be assigned a DOI number. We are working towards further social media connections, indexing in major platforms, and also an impact factor. Essentially, SPAMD is able to provide reasonable visibility as when it was with SpringerNature. And thanks to SpringerNature, our previous host, the journal is not starting from scratch, but build further on the already valuable foundation from SpringerNature for greater visibility and recognition from the scientific community. All volumes and article numbers will continue from its old home and the ISSN remains unchanged from SpringerNature. Transfers have already been effected and filed with the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), and we hope it is a matter of time that other recognitions e.g. Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series, and Publishers; Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), reflect the change in publisher.
In addition, we continue our affiliation with the Bioinformatics Institute, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore.
In the new home, and to maintain sustainability, SPAMD will utilize a simpler submission process that includes: 1) allowing authors to submit the article in any format (referencing, headings), so long it is consistent and easily read, and only upon promising reviews, would we require the authors to submit using the provided template (http://scientificphoneapps.apdskeg.com/SubmissionGuidelines); 2) fill up a very short submission document at sgke.psychvey.com, SGan__SRVY11 (Nguyen et al., 2015), where users can choose to register an account or login anonymously, and email the documents in any suitable common document format (doc, docx, pdf, etc) or by cloud storage links to firstname.lastname@example.org. We aim to provide a preliminary assessment within a week, and a rapid publication on the website www.scientificphoneapps.com within 1-2 weeks from acceptance.
As stated in the last editorial for the journal in SpringerNature (Gan SKE., 2018), the journal aims, scope, and purpose remains unchanged at:
“Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices is a peer-reviewed open access journal published under APD SKEG Pte Ltd. The first specialized journal in this field, it publishes high quality scientific reports on mobile apps and smartphone dependent devices such as add-on sensors or modifications. Allowing for not only academic recognition for the broader scientific community, it also brings awareness to the general public on the development of such tools.
The journal accepts full research articles, application notes, reviews, editorials, and correspondences related to the development of research or education apps in all disciplines. The apps or mobile add-on devices should aim at replacing bulky equipment or to enable certain features on smartphones, phablets or tablets. The focus would be on the functionality and convenience.”
New submissions are advised to refer to guidelines mentioned in the first editorial when the journal was under SpringerNature (Gan SKE., 2015), with references to the past publications in the journal. All previous articles published under SpringerNature remain available at scientificphoneapps.springeropen.com.
The continued work of the journal would not be possible without the past and present authors, reviewers, and editors of Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices, SpringerNature, and the affiliated Bioinformatics Institute, A*STAR, which is also the home institute of the Editor-in-Chief.
Gan SKE (2015) Editorial: scientific Apps: design, considerations, and functions. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices. 2015, 1:1. doi:10.1186/s41070-015-0001-2
Gan, S. K.-E. (2018) ‘The history and future of scientific phone apps and mobile devices’, Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices, 4(1). doi: 10.1186/s41070-018-0022-8.
Gan, S. K.-E. (2018) ‘Editorial: APD Trove Journal – scope, aims, and purpose’, APD Trove Journal, 1(1). doi: 10.30943/2018/312018.
Nguyen, P.-V. et al. (2015) ‘PsychVeyApp: Research survey app’, Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices, 1(1). doi: 10.1186/s41070-015-0002-1.
Van Noorden, R. (2014) ‘The scientists who get credit for peer review’, Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature.2014.16102.