Sunday, March 8, 2009

EJSSM Excitement!

I've just returned from a face-to-face meeting* with most of the members of the Advisory/Editorial Board for the Electronic Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology. I won't bore you with a tedious description of that meeting, but I came away very excited about what we hope to accomplish in the next few years. It's a great privilege for me to have colleagues as dedicated to the science as this group is.

Although introducing a brand-new journal with no organizational infrastructure support has been a slow process, it's my belief that we've already succeeded in publishing a number of excellent contributions and my hope that the future will include many, many more from diverse authors. I'd like to summarize some of the existing unique features of EJSSM:

1. Open review. Reviewers are not anonymous, which encourages a spirited but civil discussion of the comments between the author(s) and the reviewers. The substantive comments by the reviewers and the author responses are included in the final version of the paper. This allows readers to understand the review process leading to the final published form. Further, many interesting points can come up during manuscript reviews but usually never see the light of day when the exchanges between the author(s) and reviewers are not made public.

2. Multimedia. In addition to the manuscript's text, the authors can make available a diverse set of multimedia, including animations, sound files, programming code, datasets, and so on. These additions are hotlinked from the PDF files comprising the formal publication.

3. Affordable publication charges. Publication costs for files up to 50 Megabytes in size are only $50. There is no extra cost for color figures

4. Open access. Once articles are published, they are available to anyone at no cost. Readers wished to be informed about new publications can be notified by email when new papers become available.

5. Rapid turn-around. An important EJSSM goal is to have the paper proceed as rapidly as possible from submission to publication. A manuscript requiring only minor revisions after review can be published and available within a few months.

6. Diverse topics and content. Because "severe storms" has been defined by EJSSM with a very liberal interpretation, many topics other than deep convective storms are welcomed (e.g., severe extratropical cyclones, duststorms, winter weather, severe turbulence, heavy rainfall, etc.). We also solicit contributions that offer might not otherwise find a place in a refereed journal - for example, articles that are are primarily tutorial can be considered, especially when they offer insight into some heretofore unrecognized aspect of severe storms meteorology .

In addition to these features, we are hoping to introduce some exciting new opportunities to foster scientific discussions and to expand the scope of EJSSM publications.

1. An electronic "poster session". This is to become a relatively informal opportunity for severe storm scientists to post a short summary of their current research projects, in order to solicit comments from EJSSM readers. The intent is to simulate electronically the helpful exchange of ideas and feedback that can occur at poster sessions during scientific conferences, when authors have a chance to interact informally with interested colleagues prior to submitting their findings for consideration in a refereed journal (such as EJSSM). This is particulary helpful for students, who can obtain valuable input from established scientists in their research topic, but anyone can gain from this sort of informal interaction. These discussions will be moderated, in order to avoid the uncivil exchanges that can develop with unmoderated message boards. Scientific discourse is an art that requires some experience and a commitment to good science.

2. Special focus issues of EJSSM. From time to time, perhaps when a regional conference or workshop is called, the presenters want to have their presentations become formal contributions to a referreed journal. Some journals do indeed have a history of publishing whole issues devoted to the presentations from a conference, and we hope to emulate that with EJSSM. With all of the existing features of EJSSM (above), the production of important contributions in the form of refereed papers from conference presentations should be facilitated.

The board was unanimous in our hope to create a medium that fosters the notion of science as a continuing discourse, not an archive of established facts. When economic factors restrict the number of face-to-face interactions a scientist can have, the electronic options we seek to provide with EJSMM can compensate to some extent for this loss of face-to-face time. Further, we all believe that individual publications are only milestones along a path of continuous evolution of scientific ideas. That evolution is dependent on interactions among scientists so EJSSM seeks to expand the opportunities within which those interactions can happen. And we hope to allow severe storms meteorology students to begin to follow and eventually contribute to that discourse as early in their careers as possible.

*Present: Me, Bob Maddox, Roger Edwards, Elke Edwards, Erik Rasmussen, John Monteverdi, Ryan McCammon, Al Pietrycha, and the Board Chair, Jim Johnson. Absent: Brian Curran, Amos Magliocco, Bill Eckrich, Dave Schultz