QScience Connect breaks the boundaries of a peer-reviewed traditional scholarly journal that is defined by a discipline or field. In fact, there are no boundaries as QScience Connect intends to accept submissions from all fields and will expand its editorial board quarterly to reflect its submissions. Further, the basis of selection will only need to meet the requirements of being valid, ethical, and correct with the “simple criteria of being conducted in the appropriate manner, with conclusions concurrent with results, where appropriate. By placing less emphasis on perceived interest, we leave it to the readers to determine which articles are interesting based on usage and citations.”
QScience Connect joins the QScience.com journals published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (BQFJ). (Another Bloomsbury branch, Bloomsbury Academic and Professional Publishing is an independent publishing house with companies in London, New York, Berlin, and Sydney.) QScience.com is a relatively new entry into the world of academic journals beginning a year ago. The Qatar Foundation, the parent of QScience.com, is located in Doha, Qatar. This independent, private, nonprofit, chartered organization was founded in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, to “support centers of excellence which develop people's abilities through investments in human capital, innovative technology, state of the art facilities, and partnerships with elite organizations, thus raising the competency of people and the quality of life.”
QScience.com already hosts eight scholarly journals in the areas of information and library studies, sustainable energy, education, medicine and bioscience, Middle Eastern healthcare, law, design, and Islamic studies. According to the website, “many other journals are scheduled to be added in 2012.”
QScience.com offers interactive polls and discussion forums for the research that it publishes. It claims to follow all standard authentication models and COUNTER-compliant usage statistics. There is a multilingual interface in English and Arabic.
Each article in QScience Connect will show the number of downloads and citing articles. All journals published by Qatar Foundation are open access (OA) and published under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License. All abstracts of all QScience.com journals are translated in Arabic. There is an article processing charge for QScience Connect of $995. If an author cannot arrange for payment, QScience Connect has discretionary waivers. Full, automatic waivers are granted to submitting authors who are from low or lower-middle income economies as defined by The World Bank.
The success of the peer-review approach will be critical to the quality of QScience Connect. Such “megajournal’ approaches have been a suggested model for years and a few attempts have been conducted by companies that are on Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers. Publishers on this list are those that unprofessionally exploit the author-pays model of open access (gold OA) for their own profits. Such publishers are characterized by spamming lists to look for editors, reviewers, and authors. Fortunately, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals has never appeared on this list.
Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals is a member of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) an association that seeks to set standards to “Promote a uniform definition of OA publishing, best practices for maintaining and disseminating OA scholarly communications, and ethical standards.” OASPA is a vetted membership society and members must follow a code of conduct to maintain membership.
QScience Connect currently has 13 members on its international editorial board whose specialties range from architecture and urban planning to the social sciences to environmental biotechnology. Asia is particularly well represented. Christopher Leonard serves as the managing editor of the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals, which includes QScience Connect.
The philosophical approach is different from most journals. Instead of using peer review to determine if a paper is “worthy” to be published, QScience Connect seeks to, “decrease the burden on peer reviewers, by making our requests to them as simple as possible. We simply ask them to determine if the work presented has been carried out in an appropriate way and that the results, positive or negative, are clear and accessible. This significantly decreases the time it takes to review an article.”
One other significant departure from traditional peer review is that reviewers are asked to give up their anonymity for accepted manuscripts. The reviewers name and credentials appear on the article, along with those of the “handling” editor. This is a process that could serve to counter the perception that peer review is light or nonexistent. The handling editor is to, “ensure that two peers review the article for validity ... then recommend that the article be accepted, revised, or rejected ... Initially our handling editors will be recommended by the international advisory board.”
QScience Connect encourages authors to make the most of the online environment and welcomes submissions that may primarily consist of video or audio. “Supplementary files can accompany text files too, and we look forward to authors using this facility to publish datasets reported in the main manuscript.” As with all QScience.com journals, articles will also be available on a new mobile platform, QScience.com Mobile.