What is a grassroots journal?

  • A grassroots journal collects, assesses, categorises and ranks all articles relevant for a specific topic/community.
  • It differs from a traditional journal in that it does not publish articles, but only reviews them. In this way we can build up a reputation for good review, while also reviewing articles, which normally would not be submitted to a new journal.
  • Like a traditional journal it has expert editors who invited experts to review the articles so that is can replace the quality control of traditional journals.
  • It thus brings together articles that are now spread over many publications and helps novices and experts a better access to the scientific literature.
  • It has a narrow scope. The editors are part of the community, know the reviewers well and can assess the reviews well. This also limits the amount of work for the volunteers.
  • It keeps the reviews up to date, so that if new research invalidates an article or shows it to be more or less important this can be taken into account.
  • It can include articles of all quality levels by quantifying the quality. This saves half the work as there is no need to review an article multiple times because it was rejected for not being glamorous enough.
  • It differs from an overlay journal, which only reviews manuscripts published in repositories, in that it reviews the complete scientific literature: articles, manuscripts and extended abstracts. This is more useful for the readers.
  • It differs from a collection in the greater focus on the assessment of the articles and on building an organisation to ensure assessments are made for all articles.
  • A grassroots journal will focus on (near) final articles. Getting a manuscript into shape for publication is best done independently.

A grassroots journal provides a clearly superior, more informative review than traditional journals offer. It thus already provides a useful function while traditional journals still exist, while aiming to make them superfluous by making it irrelevant where an article is published.

First Grassroots Journal

The easiest way to see how this concept works is to look at the first grassroots scientific journal, which I created for my own field: statistical homogenisation of climate station data.

Join the revolution

If you are curious how this is organised you can read the page on the tasks of authors, reviewers and editors. For more general design considerations and ideas on how multiple journals could help and strengthen each are on our blog.

There is still a lot to do, if you would like to start a Grassroots Journal please fill in this form, the code for this site is on GitHub, if you are interested in exploring the possibilities of grassroots publishing together please contact me. To stay informed about progress with an occasional mail you can join our newsletter.