Thursday, February 23, 2012

Computational Chemistry Highlights: A new kind of chemistry journal

What is Computational Chemistry Highlights?
CCH is an overlay journal that identifies the most important papers in computational and theoretical chemistry published in the last 1-2 years.  CCH is not affiliated with any publisher: it is a free resource run by scientists for scientists.

What is an overlay journal?
An overlay journal is simply a journal that collects manuscript from other sites.  For example, Faculty of 1000 is a relatively well known overlay journal, though it doesn't call itself that, that has been around since 2002.  However, there are some key differences between F1000.com and CCH:

* CCH is free of charge
* CCH accepts comments on entries (for example other reviews)
* CCH accepts suggestions, including preprints deposited on preprint servers like arxiv.org

The last point means that you can choose to submit your next paper for publication in CCH.  It is peer reviewed after all; in fact the review is also published if the paper is accepted. 

You retain all the rights to your work.  You can even submit a CCH paper to a conventional journal if you wish (and that journal agrees to consider it - check first).  However, your paper is only reviewed if it is accepted and CCH only accepts the most important recent papers in the field (think of it as very aggressive triage).

One possible future of scientific publishing
One could imagine a future where the publication process consists of depositing your preprint on a public server such as arxiv.org and then simultaneously submitting the paper to several overlay journals, such as CCH, with various levels of prestige.  These journals, in turn, act as feeders to even more prestigious overlay journals (a la Science and Nature) which select their most important contributions of general interest.

A paper could be published in increasingly more journals as its importance becomes established. It's a fairer and more open way of identifying important papers that does not slow the dissemination of scientific results.

Will it ever be this way?
Will it ever be this way?  Will CCH become widely read and regarded?  I don't know - time will tell.  What I can tell you is that anyone can set up a site like this and we decide whether it works or not.

The ball is in our court now.  Are you game?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.