Thursday, March 27, 2014

The landscape for peer reviewed academic journals is certainly changing

I just read a helpful synopsis of the changes in the publishing industry as they relate to academic journals on the web site of the Association of American Publishers. And, by the way, the use of "loose" instead of "lose" in the above .pdf image did not go unnoticed, but it is an example of one of the many challenges that need to be addressed in the publication of research articles.

With the impending announcement concerning the launching of a new Journal of Chess Research, with which some of my readers are quite familiar, I am reprinting the pertinent text and links here. Thank you to AAP for the hard work of pulling this information together in a cohesive and meaningful manner, and for your willingness to share the perspective of the publishing industry as the world changes from print to predominantly digital formats. I will provide links to the locations of the announcement referred to above as soon as it is available.

The scholarly publishing community plays an indispensable role in the scientific research enterprise by facilitating scholarly communication, disseminating scientific information, managing the scientific record and coordinating the peer review process. Publishers’ continuing investments in digital platforms with the latest internet capabilities have helped to deepen their contributions to the science community and the public--expanding accessibility, improving interoperability and fueling innovation.

There is an ongoing public debate about how to expand access to published research literature to the research community and the public, while ensuring continued quality, integrity, preservation and sustainability of scholarly communications. Publishers share the goal of widening access and have been at the forefront of the effort that has made more scholarly information available to more users than at any time in history.

The following is intended to help answer questions about scholarly publishing and access to scholarly literature. Read more about Open Access and NIH Public Policy on their separate AAP pages. (material here is provided courtesy of the Association of American Publishers, a 425-member association of the premier publishers of high-quality entertainment, education, scientific and professional content.)

What is involved in publishing research?

The publishing process is large, complex and costly. In recent years, publishers collectively have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the transition from print to electronic delivery, and in the process have built and continue to refine a robust digital electronic environment for delivery of information to their readers. Publishers supply editorial services and incur expenses. Even though some editors volunteer their time, many larger journals employ salaried high-level professional editors or staff editorial offices. High-quality page composition, copyediting, layout and design, scanning, and tagging bibliographic and reference data must be managed whether an article is prepared to be read online or in print. Peer review is a tightly managed process. Maintaining and periodically updating a digital archive requires substantial resources, as do launching new journals and maintaining and enhancing online platforms to improve speed, access and functionality.

Information technology has replaced or reduced some production costs but not entirely, and digital technologies have brought new and different costs into the picture. Most costs will not significantly decrease under open access. At a high quality publication, staffing and editorial costs largely remain the same under either open access or subscription-based editorial models. Archiving costs are even higher in the electronic era because electronic archiving requires building the service, regularly updating the platform and software, and continuously maintaining comprehensive searchable sites with millions of linked articles, costs that will continue under any access model. Publishers have invested heavily in systems to take in manuscripts and shepherd them throughout the review process. These systems have helped to reduce the time between submission of an article and its first appearance on the web, accelerating the availability of cutting edge research to the community.

Professional publishing has its costs. The scientific publishing industry must continue to deliver high-quality, peer-reviewed content. The existing business models of publishing are based on the principle that copyright enables publishers to invest resources to create, improve, innovate, and exclusively enter its products (i.e., content) into the stream of commerce to the public. Publishers can and do experiment with alternative models, but a publisher cannot provide these services for free.

Do publishers support expanding access to information?

Absolutely, this is a publisher’s mission. Publishers are in business to provide access to research, not limit it. The very nature of publishing is to make all information widely available to the public as well as to researchers.

Every year publishers invest extensively to support and enhance access to new scientific information. In the last two decades, publishers have developed new technological advancements that have dramatically improved the efficiency and quality of scientific communication. Publishers have explored and implemented a variety of business models to make content as widely available as possible, including a range of distribution and access models.

A direct result is the public has more access to more information in more formats through more media than ever before. These capabilities support more researchers submitting more articles, and more journals distributing more information to users, educators, practitioners, students, and the public than at any time in history.

Isn’t there a need to make published research more accessible to researchers?

There are very few gaps in researchers’ ability to access published research. Journals are openly available through libraries and at institutions to most people involved in scientific research. Access is available to the full text of articles online going back hundreds of years.
Researchers in developing countries now access published research through Research4Life, a public-private partnership of publishers, UN agencies, and universities. This program provides free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online in over 7,500 peer-reviewed international scientific journals, books and databases.
Authors themselves also make their work accessible to the research community. Journals generally allow the authors to place their manuscripts on personal or institutional websites or repositories, distribute the copies of the final published copies of their articles to colleagues, to incorporate them in subsequent work, or to use them in classroom teaching.

More than 2/3 of the researcher respondents in a 2008 study of peer review by the Publishers Research Consortium described their access to scholarly journals literature as good or excellent. Researchers rank “access to research journals” very low on their overall list of concerns.

Nevertheless, should the public have access to research that is funded by the taxpayer?

Yes, and they do. The public has access to published articles through private libraries, university libraries (which are generally accessible to the public), hospital libraries, medical society libraries, research centers, public libraries via interlibrary loan, and often directly from the publisher upon request. The agencies that fund research already have the option to make available to the public the research reports that they receive from authors.

It’s important to note, however, that while taxpayers may fund the costs of conducting research, they do not fund the costs of publishing articles written after the research is completed and professionally edited, vetted, organized and published. So while the information upon which articles are based should be a matter of public record, the articles themselves, covered by copyrights and organized in the form of journals, are the work product of the efforts of publishers. The cost of subscriptions or author fees is necessary to recoup the considerable cost of validating, certifying, and publishing the articles that discuss and document those research findings beyond the reports and data generated by the research and on file with the funding entities.

Do publishers support wide access to information?

It is the mission of publishers to make information as widely available as possible, not to limit it. The very objective of the publishing endeavor is to make scientific information widely available in an organized manner to the public as well as to researchers. Publishers invest heavily to support and enhance access to and the availability of new scientific information. In the last two decades, publishers have developed numerous technological advancements that have tremendously improved the efficiency and quality of dissemination of scientific communication. Publishers explore new technologies and apply a variety of business models best suited to making content as widely available as possible, including open and free access models.

Publishers’ efforts have provided the public more access to more information in more formats and faster than ever before. They have increased efficiencies to accommodate more researchers who are submitting more articles to more journals. The result is faster dissemination of more information to more researchers, educators, practitioners, students and members of the public than ever before.

Can the organization of peer review be done for free?

Probably not. In a recent global study commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium, 85 percent of scientists indicated that they believe peer review greatly helps scientific communication, while 93 percent of them believe peer review is necessary. Scientific publishers have been at the forefront of innovations that have improved and continue to improve the peer review process. However, this is not free of expense.

Scientific publishers process more than a million papers every year through a rigorous vetting with help from hundreds of thousands of distinct referees. While it is true that peer reviewers themselves are usually not paid, publishers invest hundreds of millions of dollars in managing the peer review process. Managing peer review uses the latest communications technologies and requires large and sophisticated electronic resources (databases of referees, their areas of expertise and current assignments, the status of papers under review, etc.), associated support personnel, and many paid full- and part-time editors.

How important is peer review?

Extremely. Peer review identifies and validates research and innovation. It encourages authors to meet the accepted standards of their discipline. The process can help to avoid unsubstantiated scientific claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal opinions. Peer review specifically identifies weaknesses in scientific papers and ensures that the content of a scientific paper is both novel and advances the scientific record. In fact, industry estimates suggest that approximately half of all papers submitted for publication are rejected in their initial submission because they do not sufficiently meet a journal’s criteria. Scientists tend to rely upon the editorial process and peer review as validation of quality, and it is almost universally accepted in support of the research process.

The importance of the process has been underscored in light of high profile cases of scientific fraud. The instances of a few authors successfully publishing fraudulent or fabricated data in major journals call for oversight that is more rigorous by the entire scientific publishing industry. Several cases focus on conflicts of interest in the scientific research community where authors failed to disclose financial support for research that had perceived or obvious implications for the companies that provided that support. Today, it is incumbent upon publishers to be as rigorous as possible in the peer review process to help uncover financial conflicts of interest by reviewers, editors, and authors and to thoroughly evaluate articles and associated materials for signs of scientific fraud -- both before and after publication. The costs of additional checks on the process are mostly borne by publishers.

Publishers are also supporting a shared plagiarism detection system called CrossCheck designed to detect instances of unauthorized use of articles previously published. This system is entirely financed by the publishing community.

Additional questions?

What are some of the ways people can access articles for free?
How have publishers advanced innovation in scientific publishing?
Do publishers provide access to journals in developing countries?
Do publishers add value to scholarly articles?
What is the value of the U.S. professional and scholarly publishing industry?

The answers to these questions can be found on the source web site. Please go here to dig deeper.

More on Academic Journals

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 SPFGI details announced, prizes expanded to support World Youth qualifiers

Details for the 2014 Susan Polgar Foundation Girls Invitational (SPFGI) have been announced and, for the first time, the tournament will provide support to qualifiers for the bi-annual World Youth Chess Championships, to be held in 2014 in Durbin, South Africa. The 2014 SFPGI will be held July 10-15 at the same location as the past two years, on the campus of Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri, near St. Louis. The World Youth is scheduled for September 18-30. Details for that event can be found on the FIDE web site.

Rules & Conditions for the 11th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational
(Over $200K in prizes and scholarships)
July 10 – 15, 2014 at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri)

Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus for all qualifiers!

The annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational, in its 11th year, is the most prestigious all-girls event in the United States. It will once again be held at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri).

• There will be an intense training session with Susan Polgar and members of the SPICE team, followed by a 6 round (g/90+30) FIDE rated championship tournament.

• The traditional Blitz, Puzzle Solving, Bughouse events will stay the same as in previous years.

• There will be many chess prizes awarded, as well as scholarships to Webster University.

Each state is allowed one representative to be nominated by May 20, 2014. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than June 15. (Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow the host state to enter an additional qualified player.) Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow exceptions to the May 20 entry/alternate deadline. Should the state affiliate fail to respond to the notice for this tournament, Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may determine the candidate from that state.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are under the age of 19 on July 10th of the year in which the event is held or students who have never attended college on a full time basis prior to June 1 of the year in which the tournament is held, are eligible to represent the state in which they reside.

Exception: If a player graduates from high school early and is already attending college, she may still represent her state if nominated. This is the decision of each state affiliate.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The participants of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational DO NOT have to be high school students. Any qualifier under the age of 19 (by July 10th of the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Special invitation for this year only: All past participants of the SPNI and SPFGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2004-2013) are invited to participate in the 2014 SPFGI. The idea is to have the past participants learn my method of training so they can go back home and share their knowledge with the younger players. However, registration MUST be made ASAP since space is limited. There will be mutual training sessions for all, however separate section & prizes for alumni participants over the age of 19.

Players are required to furnish the organizer an emergency phone number and the e-mail address of a parent/guardian.

There is no entry fee to participate in the 2014 SPFGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel. For all state representatives, and qualifiers from the SPNO or SPWO, Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus.

For alumni participants, wild card/special invites, coaches, parents, or other family members, inexpensive accommodations are available for housing and dining on Webster’s campus. Please note that all reservations and registrations MUST be made (and accommodation expenses prepaid) no later than June 15, 2014.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, and the SPFGI Championship. Co-champions are recognized in the case of a tie, with each champion receiving a Champion’s Plaque or Trophy.

The Champion (or Co-Champions) of the main event will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: Webster University scholarship* (approximately $24,000+ per year x 4 years) Champion's Cup. (In case of a tie, a playoff will used to determine the level of scholarships)

2nd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $14,000+ per year x 4 years)

3rd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $12,000+ per year x 4 years)

Brand new additional prizes this year!

Top under 16: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2014 World Youth (if participating**)

Top under 14: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2014 World Youth (if participating**)

Top under 12: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2014 World Youth (if participating**)

* The scholarships to Webster University must be exercised no later than Fall of 2017, and are not transferable. In addition, these scholarships cannot be combined with other academic scholarships, or stacked. If players won scholarships in past events, they can choose to exercise the highest one.

** After flight ticket has been purchased, a $1,000 reimbursement check will be sent to the winners.

The Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California, two for Texas, and two for Missouri) and the District of Columbia represented. We strongly encourage each state and the District of Columbia affiliate to hold a scholastic championship tournament to determine each state’s champion and representative. Failing this, rating criteria may be acceptable. A scholastic girls’ champion or the highest rated girls’ scholastic player in a state who has no state affiliate of the USCF should contact the Polgar Committee as soon as possible.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee and its members may elect to award a limited number of wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational.

Special qualifying events: The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar NO for Girls (New Orleans) and the Susan Polgar World Open for Girls (Chicago).

The SPFGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee, e-mail:

The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-281-7424 or through

SPECIAL NOTICE for coaches, parents, or other family members: inexpensive accommodations are available for housing and dining on Webster’s campus.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Battle of the Americas

I am in St. Louis, Missouri, this weekend to serve as Chief Arbiter in the FIDE Sanctioned "Battle of the Americas", a 10-game match between Grandmasters Ray Robson (rated 2628, #7 in the USA, #14 in the Americas) and Leinier Dominguez Perez of Cuba (rated 2757, #12 in the World, #1 in Cuba, and #2 in the Americas behind Hikaru Nakamura). The match will consist of 4 rapid games played at the rate of game in 25 minutes plus 10 second increments and 6 blitz games (3 mins plus 2 second increments).

Dominguez,L (2757) - Robson,R (2628) [A33]
Battle of the Americas (Rapid Game 1), 08.03.2014
1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bf4 d5 7.e3 Bd6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bxd6 Qxd6 10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 Ne5 12.Rc1 a6 13.h3 Bd7 14.Nf3 Rac8 15.Qd2 Be6 16.Rfd1 Rfd8 17.a3 h6 18.Qd4 Nc6 19.Qd2 Ne5 20.Nd4 Bd7 21.f4 Nc6 22.Nxc6 Bxc6 23.Qd4 Qe7 24.Bf3 Re8 25.Re1 Rcd8 26.Rcd1 h5 27.b4 Ne4 28.Bxe4 dxe4 29.Qc4 Rc8 30.Qb3 Red8 31.Rxd8+ Rxd8 32.Qc4 Rd3 33.a4 Qh4 34.Re2 Qg3 35.b5 axb5 36.axb5 Bd5 37.Qc8+ Kh7 38.Qf5+ g6 39.Qe5 Bc4 40.Rf2 Rxe3 0-1

Robson,R (2628) - Dominguez,L (2757) [C65]
Battle of the Americas (2), 08.03.2014
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.h3 c6 9.Ba4 Ng6 10.d4 Bb6 11.Re1 Re8 12.Bc2 Bc7 13.Nf1 d5 14.exd5 e4 15.d6 Qxd6 16.N3d2 Bf5 17.Nc4 Qd7 18.Bg5 Nd5 19.Ng3 Be6 20.Bxe4 Nxc3 21.bxc3 Bxc4 22.Qf3 Qd6 23.a4 Bd5 24.Bd2 Nf8 25.Rab1 b6 26.Qg4 Nd7 27.Bd3 g6 28.Qh4 f5 29.c4 Bf7 30.Bc3 Qf6 31.Qxf6 Nxf6 32.d5 Nd7 33.dxc6 Nc5 34.Bc2 Bxc4 35.Rbd1 Rxe1+ 36.Rxe1 Kf7 37.Nf1 Bd5 38.Ne3 Bxc6 39.a5 Be4 40.g4 Bxc2 41.Nxc2 fxg4 42.hxg4 bxa5 43.Ne3 Ne4 44.Bd4 Bb6 45.Nd5 Bxd4 46.Rxe4 Bc5 47.Rf4+ Kg8 48.Rc4 Bb6 49.Kg2 Rd8 50.Nf6+ Kg7 51.g5 Rd2 52.Re4 Rxf2+ 53.Kg3 Kf7 54.Nxh7 Rb2 55.Rf4+ Ke7 56.Re4+ Kf7 57.Rf4+ Kg7 58.Nf6 Rb3+ 59.Kg2 Rb5 60.Ne8+ Kg8 61.Nf6+ Kf7 62.Ne4+ Kg7 63.Kh3 Rb4 64.Rg4 a4 65.Kg2 a3 0-1

Please come back for progress reports including all game scores. Round 3 is scheduled for 2 PM central time tomorrow.