You'd Prefer An Argonaute

A new competitor RNA blog emerges?

Posted in Blog Affairs, Open Access by YPAA on January 14, 2010

The new open access journal Silence, which covers RNA directed gene regulation, has a blog. (Hat-tip to my colleague I.U.)

Their first post describes the blog’s aims, some of which bear some semblance to aims I put forth at the inception of YPAA, as here. Their second post covers a “HOT paper”, with a summary and analysis. Hmm… What a great idea!

Two potential explanations: (1) Some people at Silence saw YPAA and aim to replicate it to support their journal; (2) Some brilliant people at Silence haven’t seen YPAA, but independently came up with the idea to start a blog like it.

Either way I’m flattered and I welcome Silence to the blogosphere.

As for the journal itself, I look forward to seeing what it can accomplish. The scientists who founded it, and those on its editorial board, are impressive. It’s peer reviewed. And two thumbs up for being open access! I want it to be successful.

However, while I suppose a journal like this was inevitable, given the explosion of RNAi/non-coding RNA related research in recent years, a potential downside is what it signifies for the importance of the work in the field. Does it denigrate the work of the field if you have to make a new journal to publish it in? Aren’t there enough journals already to publish in? Perhaps some researchers in the field feel a bit like gypsies, without a warm, inviting place to call home when the more luxurious publishing groups say “No Vacancy.”

It’s emergence is probably also a sign of the times. More science by more people means more specialization. More competition at the top, and the desire to have less at levels below. I know near nothing about the current state of publishing, but I imagine even right now some of the more specialized journals (e.g. RNA, NAR) are breaking at the seams trying to pack in all the new RNAi/non-coding RNA papers. The trend toward open access is also present.

During his talk at the Keystone conference last year, Victor Ambros formally introduced Silence and encouraged submissions, providing an anecdote: back in 1987, a famous scientist (I think he said his post-doc adviser H. Bob Horvitz) encouraged him to publish in a new journal called “Genes and Development.” (He did.) It would be great if Silence followed a similar trajectory to G+D’s. If it modeled it’s blog partly after YPAA, I’d say it’s well on its way.

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