PeerJ one year old

Today, June 12 2013, PeerJ claims to be one year old. I guess, in one way it is, but I would claim it is 4 months old. Just to ruin the birthday party. I have three children, and I do not celebrate their birthday on the day I made it official that we where going to have a child, but the day I first saw them. Anyway, lets pretend PeerJ is one year old, and celebrate.

When I first heard about PeerJ, I thought it was a brilliant idea; spend money on research, not publisher’s profit; make reviews open; fast publication; do not select articles based on expected impact, but quality; and make articles available to everyone. And they managed to do it: a life time membership costs $99 (one article a year); 40% of reviewers now providing their name and almost 80% of authors making their reviews public; median time for final decision (accepted articles) is 49 days; and for the last two, look at the first 87 articles, and judge for yourself.

My favourite article so far is “Significant changes in the skin microbiome mediated by the sport of roller derby“, simply because the research, setting, and methods are fun. I really hope more people will embrace PeerJ, and their thinking about open research, data, and publishing costs. Personally I think the Lancet, Nature, …, look like old grumpy men now, claiming the Earth is flat.

And the best of all; today you can win a monkey fridge magnet. All you have to do is typing:

“PeerJ just turned one (or four months, really)! Open access publishing, for just $99 for life – check them out and submit now!” 


First experience with PeerJ

I have been mentioning PeerJ in a couple of posts lately. It is a new journal with an interesting concept, so we wanted to try it out. In the beginning of March we submitted a paper where we describe how climate have influenced national cattle holdings in Africa the past 40 years or so. This is our experience with the journal. After a few hours, an editor had been assigned, and after 19 days, two reviewers had read and commented the paper. The comments were written in a nice language, and the tone of editor, Jianhua Xu, was very pleasant as well. We responded to the reviewers’ comments, and one day later the paper was accepted. In my opinion, this is the speed journals should have. No delays because the manuscript is laying on a desk somewhere in the world. About six hours after acceptance, I was contacted by the Department of Publishing Operations, requesting some information, allowing us to do final corrections. If PeerJ manages to keep this speed, yet another reason to consider this newcomer.


How many read PeerJ

The new open access journal, PeerJ, has been accepting publications since December 2012. So far 46 articles have been published. The ideas behind the journal are brilliant; low costs for the authors, fast peer-review, and they do not evaluate the impact of the articles, only quality. Up till now articles have been published in batches, three so far, and a rough estimate tells us that about 10% of the submitted articles have been published. According to the PeerJ website, they expect an acceptance rate of about 70% once the journal is fully up and running. There seems however to be a delay about 20 days from acceptance till the final article is published, which might be fixed when PeerJ Preprints is up and running (Figure 1). I believe most authors want their paper out once it has been accepted.

Time from acceptance to publication in PeerJ according to publication batch

Another issue is the visibility of the articles. So far, it seems like very few people are aware of the journal, and probably not many has made the habit to visit the journal. The median number of unique views per day per article is currently 9.85, way too low in my opinion, but I guess the journal needs one or two years before such numbers make sense. The most read article has however 589 views per day,while the first article fronted by PeerJ has 188 unique views per day so it is indeed possible to attract readers to single articles. Figure 2 is showing the density of article views per day for the 46 first article. Anyway, I welcome this journal and their thinking, and hope more people will embrace it.

Density of unique views per day for the 46 first articles in PeerJ
Density of unique views per day for the 46 first articles in PeerJ


Edit: It would be interesting to compare the start-up of PeerJ with Scientific Reports. It seems like they published about the same number of articles the first month, but unfortunately SREP does not not show the number of accesses for articles published in 2011.


Discovery of new Monkey

Only a few months after the discovery of a new species of monkey has been identified in Africa, yet a new species hit the surface. It was during a visit to the deep forests  of DR Congo, close to the Lomami river (the same area as the previous discovery) we ran into a colony of the newly discovered species. The colony consisted of one individual. Unfortunately all documentation in form of photography were lost in the river on the journey back to Kinshasha, so you have to rely on our research notes, analysis done in the field, and our memory. We hope the new journal PeerJ will accept our publication based on the limited material.

Summary of Materials and Methods

A notebook, a faint memory, a lost camera, and a standard RGBA test.


Before loosing the camera, we were able to carry out a RGBA test accurately describing the pigmentation of the monkey.

Hair: 5494d2ff
Skin: d9e9f9ff
Ear skin: ffd4aaff
These are rather unusual colours, and might result from our research assistant being obsessed with camera filters, and suffering from loss of short time memory thus being unable to recall if any filters were applied at the time of taking the pictures. Since the ear skin has reasonable colours, we conclude he did not apply any filters, and that the RGBA analysis show the true colours.

Behaviour and anatomy

The most stunning feature of this new monkey is the lack of knees, quite unusual for monkeys which are known to spend considerable time in trees. The head is disproportionally large, and it surprised us how the neck was able to support the weight of the massive cranium. The torso is water drop shaped, and resembles the one of a penguin. Given that the monkey is living close to a river, and the obscure anatomy, we speculate this monkey is spending most its time in water, where supporting the weight of the head would not be a problem, and the lack of knees would be beneficial for swimming performance. At the time of observation it was however sitting quietly, and alone, at the river bank, playing with some research equipment our assistant had forgotten when taking water samples the previous day.

We have discovered a single water living, blue monkey in DR Congo. Probably it is mainly feeding  on fish, but this needs to be confirmed by an expensive research project, hopefully lasting several years. Since there are some weaknesses regarding the documentation, we hope naming the new species after the founders of PeerJ, Binfield and Hoyt, will ease the review process. We propose the monkey should be named Aquavivens toybin, or Aquavivens toJbin since toybin already has a twitter account.