Here at Scholastica, we hear lots of complaining about the current state of scholarly publishing. Managing a journal can be really time-consuming, starting a new journal can be daunting, and publishing peer-reviewed Open Access scholarship has its own set of challenges. Our friends Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Simone de Beauvoir, and Maurice and Merleau-Ponty had success using Scholastica recently and wanted their story told.
One day not too long ago, Bertrand Russell, or “Bertie” as his friends call him, was lounging in bed with his Macbook Air when he thought to himself, “Oh dear, writing the Principia Mathematica surely has taken up a great deal of my efforts as of late. Now that it is completed, how will I spend all of my new-found free time?”
Facebook wasn’t really Bertie’s style: he’d rather go to a virtual space that more closely mirrored the academic world – somewhere where academic discussions rubbed shoulders with journals publishing the latest in new peer-reviewd knowledge. “By Jove, I know!” he yelled as he shot up in bed, startling the terrier that slept soundly next to him. “I’ll check out Scholastica!”
Moonlight poured into the room between the open space in the heavy crimson curtains. Bertie scrambled out of his four post bed, sat on the bench at its foot, and typed “http://www.scholasticahq.com” into the url bar of Opera, his browser of choice. “All the boys at the faculty club think it’s funny, I use Opera,” he murmured to the tiny brown and white terrier who looked up at him, head cocked to the side, “but they actually implement all the HTML5 stuff – so why wouldn’t I?” After creating an account, Bertie was presented with his personal scoreboard. Unfortunately, it was filled with a number of zeros.
Bertie was presented with a conundrum. Would he submit a manuscript to an existing journal or start a journal of his own? Perhaps it would instead be more fun to get into a little scholarly debate? “Hmm. Let’s see what this ‘Join the Conversation’ business is about…” he coughed as he clicked the link.
The first question on the Converation page was written by some fellow by the name of Ludwig Wittgenstein. “Funny name,” Bertie thought. “Although, the question ‘What are the limits of language’ really does quite strike my fancy.”
Between sips of chammomile tea, Bertie left his answer. The perspicacious insightfulness of the answer is too strenuous to describe here, but the powerful effect of that answer was immediately clear: in just a few minutes Bertie’s answer was voted up, and up, and up again. Finally Wittgenstein himself, writing from a trench equipped with wi-fi] left a comment: “Thanks for your answer Mr. Russell. It appears that you have, indeed, shown me what time it is.”
After a lunch of Yorkshire puddings and milk, and no longer in his dog-and-cat footy pajamas, Bertie logged in to Scholastica to check his scoreboard and saw many impressively large numbers. “Here here! That’s what I’m talking about!”
At that very moment just across the channel, a scholar named Simone de Beauvoir made her first foray into Scholastica. “Jean-Paul keeps telling me Scholastica is the next big thing, so let’s see what it’s about.” Once logged in she noticed two buttons above her picture:
- one for submitting a manuscript
- one for creating a journal.
“Mon Dieu! Can I truly create a peer-reviewed academic journal with the click of a button?”
After clicking the button she found herself in a state of disbelief. It should be impossible to a peer-reviewed academic journal with it’s own website, blog, and management system this quickly. As she later told her friend Jean-Paul, “I spent a mere five minutes entering my journal’s details and then, voila!”
“What is the name of this new journal?” asked Jean-Paul.
“The Journal of Expired But Still Very Active Philosophers, of course!”
Simone then spent the next few weeks promoting her new journal via her ultra-popular Twitter account and received dozens of submissions.
Maurice paced beneath the autumn trees and their falling leaves. His burrowed brow sat beneath his bowed head, his hands clasped themselves behind his back. A cigarette dangled from his lips. “The most existential yet phenomenological question of scholarship…should I publish behind a paywall or within an Open Access journal?” With a start he removed the cigarette from his mouth and flicked it through the air. “I must go with an Open Access journal – closed access c’est merde.”
Once back in his office he browsed the journals hosted on Scholastica. “Parfait!” he exclaimed, “The Journal of Expired But Still Very Active Philosophers! That’s where I will submit my manuscript!”
It took but a moment to fill in the details of his manuscript. After clicking the submit button he arrived at his manuscript page. His heart filled with excitement as he saw the progress meter fill up to the first tick. “I hope the rest of the meter fills up quickly – Open Access is no excuse to review slowly.”
On a rainy day in Paris, Simone received an email informing her of a new submission. Its title was tremendous: “Sense and Non-Sense.” Having exhausted her normal circle of reviewers, she needed to decide how to go about finding new reviewers. She did not want to resort to Google searches – that had not worked so well in the past. She called out to Jean-Paul, who was scribbling in a notebook in front of the fireplace.
“I need a new way to find reviewers.”
“Please, whatever you do, don’t resort to Googling!”
“Then help me!”
“Madame, you can find reviewers from right within the system!”
“Mais oui! I will find reviewers from within Scholastica!”
Simone visited the Manuscript Page for “Sense and Non-Sense” and clicked the “invite reviewer” button. She decided not to invite a reviewer by email, as she’d already exhausted her immediate circle. Instead she typed some of the manuscript keywords into the reviewer search bar.
“Mon Dieu! All of these scholars seem like they would be interested in reviewing this manuscript!”
One particular reviewer catches her eye. “Bertrand Russell looks good. Look at all those scholar points – he seems a very active scholar indeed.”
She clicked on his name and viewed his profile, his publications, and all the Conversations he had been active in.
“He looks amazing. I must invite him!”
Bertie walked out of the butcher shop with a bundle under one arm and a leash tied around the other. From his jacket pocket his smartphone sounded to the tune of his favorite song.
“A new message! Oh, how I do love getting emails!”
After reading the reviewer invitation email, Bertrand then took to bended knew and looked deep into Timmy’s eyes. “We have to cut today’s walk short old boy - an article needs reviewing.”
Back at his computer, Bertie took a look at the abstract and deemed it interesting enough for his time and accepted the invitation.
Maurice: “The thermometer is filling up!”
Bertie read the article in Scholastica’s elegant distraction-free interface, and downloaded a copy of the PDF to read on the go. After a few days with the article, it was time to submit the review. “Not entirely my cup of tea, Timmy, but quite publishable,” he said while the dog chomped on a chew-toy near Bertie’s feet.
Bertie logged into Scholastica, pasted his review into the fields, and submitted it to the journal editor.
Not only did Bertie’s point total number go higher, he also noticed that his score for reviews completed went from 0 to 1.
“Well my canine chap, if we keep this up I might just show this scoreboard to my committee!”
Maurice: “The thermometer is filling up!”
Simone received an email about the submitted review. Her other reviewers also thought the article was publishable, so of course she made a decision of “accept”.
Maurice: “My article has been accepted!”
Simone originally intended to publish “Sense and Non-sense” in an issue that was due out in 6 months, but thought that the article was so good it needed to be published immediately.
“Jean-Paul, I think I may just publish one of these articles immediately! The world can not wait!”
In an instant, the article was published to the world. Simone and Jean-Paul were blissfully happy with their contributions to Open Access and peer-reviewed knowledge, Bertie felt a great deal of pride immersing himself within the scholarly community online, and Maurice was ecstatic that his article went from submission to publication in just 10 days.
Maurice: “My article has gone from submission to publication in just 10 days!”