SPORTSCIENCE - A NEW JOURNAL
A major development we can offer at the Sportscience Web site is a peer-reviewed electronic journal called Sportscience. The scope of the journal will be multidisciplinary, and the focus will be human physical performance, especially athletic performance. A full range of articles will be published: original research, reviews, letters, publication critiques... all with enhanced formats to ease writing and reading. The journal will have downloadable page-numbered best-quality reprints, and it will be indexed by Current Contents. The submission and review process will be conducted over the Net. Section editors will contribute their own work to the first issue, which will not be published unless all are satisfied that the quality is outstanding.
That covers the main points. Now I'll work through the details by answering a series of questions. If you think you could be a reader, contributor, referee, or editor of this journal, please read on.
What's an Electronic Journal?
Simply a collection of articles published periodically at a Web site. You read the articles with a Web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer. For Sportscience you would also be able to download each article in reprint format with page numbers and best-quality graphics. As an author you would use the reprint for your curriculum vitae and for distribution to third-world or other colleagues who can't use the Web. As a reader you would use the reprint for off-line reading and teaching. See the draft version for Sportscience at this site.
Electronic journals like this are appearing in most disciplines. The usual printed journals are also gradually becoming available on the Web. In fact, electronic and printed journals are rapidly merging, but the electronic counterpart can offer things the printed version can't: rapid publication; hypertext links to related articles; hypertext links to subsequent reviews and correspondence engendered by the article; direct e-mail access to the authors; downloadable bibliography for importing straight into reference managers like Endnote; and free color graphics.
If it's an electronic version of an existing printed journal, the reader still has to pay a subscription to get access to the site, and the author still has to pay page charges. Electronic journals published by academics can have free access and free submission, because the financial and technical constraints of publishing on the Web are much less than those on paper. Sportscience will meet the costs of setting up and maintaining a Web site through sponsorship.
What About Copyright?
Some e-journal editors get quite upset about the way traditional publishing houses force contributors to sign away their copyright. They see the advent of Web publishing as a turning point. As a Sportscience contributor, you would have to allow copying of articles for nonprofit educational purposes, but you would retain the copyright for any profit-based copying.
Do We Need a New Journal?
I think the time has come for a journal that specializes in human physical performance. Wouldn't you welcome a top-quality peer-reviewed publication focusing on athletic performance and the factors that affect it? None of the existing journals in exercise science have this unifying theme. The journal would be multidisciplinary, contributions coming from biomechanics, medicine, motor learning, nutrition, physiology, psychology, sociology, and statistics.
Top Quality, or Bust?
Yes. If we can't publish the best papers on human performance, it's not worth bothering. We propose the following scheme to persuade our best sport scientists to try it out, without risk. Those who wish to be section editors will have to submit a paper for the first issue. The section editors will then get together electronically and decide whether the first issue makes the grade. If it does, we publish. If not, we'll call the whole thing off and submit our work elsewhere.
Will the Journal be Recognized?
Some of you may be aware that the editorial board of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (MSSE) will not allow citation in MSSE of material published on the Net. And if the material has appeared on the Net, they won't publish it in MSSE. (See MSSE 28: 931-934, 1996.)
One of MSSE's criticisms of material on the Net is the lack of page numbers for citation. Another is that a substantial number of readers can't access the Net. We'll meet both these criticisms with our downloadable reprints.
A more important and valid criticism is that material on the Net lacks permanence: it sits on someone's computer somewhere today, but where will it be in 10 year's time? The only answer is to have the responsibility for maintaining the Web site vested in a number of academics, who will host mirror images of the site and who have the ability to run the journal.
How Will the Submission and Review Process Work?
The entire process will be conducted electronically. As a potential contributor, you would download a preformatted template from the website, write the article with preformatted figures and tables pasted into the right places, then e-mail it as an attachment to the editor. Section editors and referees would comment directly on the document using the protection and annotation features of Word6/7. Edited versions would be merged and returned to you for revision.
We believe all reviewing should be double blind. We also believe that cavalier reviewing would be curtailed if the identity of the reviewer is eventually revealed to the contributor. These details would need to be decided by consensus of section editors, with input from readers. The editors would also decide on how to improve the formatting of articles to make them easier to write and read than those in present exercise-science journals. Specific subheadings in each section (including the Abstract), merged Results and Discussion sections, and a less formal style are possibilities. Statistics will be presented in a more understandable way, but statistical rigor will be better than that of existing journals.
What's the Next Step?
This is a big project. It will take the rest of this year to get it going, if we get the support we need from good researchers.
Right now we need a commitment from people who could be section editors. We have a few likely contenders on the team already. We'll need three or four for each of the disciplines: a total of 20-30 altogether. I suggest an open selection process amongst everyone who puts their name forward: the group as a whole should decide who the editors are, and if necessary should invite others in to fill gaps.
Contact the editor=AT=sportsci.org (Will Hopkins) in the first instance. I will add your name to our closed discussion list of Sportscience team members, so we can work through the issues.
We'll also need referees. The editors will have ideas about how to recruit them. And of course we'll need contributors. Watch this space.
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