Monday, November 16, 2009

ASM - launches new Open Access journal - w/ some aspects of #PLoS One and PNAS

Just got this in an email announcement from the President of ASM

ASM’s first broad-scope, online-only, open access journal, mBio™ will begin accepting submissions in January 2010 in preparation for launch in May 2010. mBio™ will offer rapid review and publication of the best research in microbiology and allied fields. The scope of mBio™ will reflect the enormity of the microbial world, highly interconnected biosphere where microbes interact with living and non-living matter to produce outcomes that range from mutualism to parasitism, energy acquisition and conversion, climate change, geologic change, food and drug production, and behavioral change. “We will encourage authors to explain how their findings fit into the larger picture,” says Editor in Chief Arturo Casadevall. Find out more at
Seems like they are trying to become a PLoS One for Microbiology. Actually, they are going one interpretation of their description is that they are going even further than PLoS One in terms of making review more streamlined (see below).

mBio™ will offer authors streamlined decisions. mBio™ editors will either accept or reject manuscripts, and will request only minor revisions; editors generally will not require authors to make extensive modifications or perform additional experiments. The philosophy behind this decision is a desire to break away from the current publication model where authors are often uncertain of whether their work will ultimately be acceptable when additional work is required. Authors of a manuscript rejected by mBio™ who choose to do additional experiments will have the option of resubmitting the paper to mBio™ or another ASM journal one additional time. The resubmission must be accompanied by a response to the prior decision letter. A rejection from mBio™ does not disqualify a manuscript from subsequent submission to another ASM journal.


Not sure everyone is going to like the policy here of allowing editors to just accept papers. Also - seems like they are adopting a policy like PNAS where Fellows can submit their own papers. I note PNAS just ditched this policy, in part due to the problems with peer review of some such papers.

AAM Fellows also will be entitled to submit one paper per calendar year via a special, accelerated submission path. This path will require Fellows to obtain two reviews (from reviewers who are not recent collaborators, trainees, etc.) prior to submission, make any necessary modifications in response to the reviewers' comments, and communicate the paper plus reviewer feedback and author responses to mBio™. After the manuscript is received by the journal it will be assigned to a member of the Editorial Board (EB) for disposition. Although we anticipate that most manuscripts submitted by Fellows will be approved, the EB member will have the option of recommending modification, additional review, or rejection.

One other things to note - which I do not like by the way - ASM has created their own version of Open Access that they call ASM Access

The term “open access” can mean different things depending on the publisher. ASM has coined the term “ASM Access™” to describe the specific form of open access that applies to mBio™. Full text of mBio™ articles and supplemental materials will be freely available on the mBio™ website immediately upon publication. Full text of mBio™ articles also will be deposited in PubMed Central and will be freely available upon publication.

Authors of accepted papers will be asked to sign a license that grants ASM publishing rights and permits unrestricted non-commercial reuse. ASM will continue to require permission for commercial reuse of mBio™ content.

“ASM Access™” publications will fully meet the open access requirements of funding agencies such as NIH, HHMI, and the Wellcome Trust.


  1. Jonathan
    We feel honored that you blogged about mBio (

    Like many society publishers, ASM has learned a lot in recent years about what the scientific community needs and wants from watching the PLoS experiments. We think it’s time we tried our own Open Access experiment, to see if a non-profit society publisher can support a high-quality, high-profile publication financially (without the aid of multimillion dollar foundation grants or high-priced library “memberships”). We hope, and invite you to send us your best work for mBio is interested in the highest quality science.

    mBio’s “streamlined peer review” won’t mean “less rigorous peer review.” The intent is for authors to receive decisions on their manuscripts more quickly and more transparently. Unlike some other top-ranked journals, mBio won’t ask authors to perform months more of additional experiments with no promise of publication. Our philosophy is that if the author needs to do a lot more work to get a paper into mBio, it’s better to get a clear rejection and have the choice of doing more work and resubmitting to mBio or of submitting to another journal. We don’t intend to hold authors “hostage” over a period of months by requesting extensive modifications. We believe that this will improve the publishing experience and by having clear decisions that authors will prefer mBio. We note in mBio the editorial decisions will be made by active working scientists, who we feel are in the best position to judge the quality and importance of the work.
    mBio won’t offer anything like the former PNAS "Track I" option, which allowed NAS members to "communicate" papers by non-members and which the National Academy scrapped in September, as you noted. We do plan to offer an option for Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology to submit one manuscript of their own per year with two reviews. However, mBio editors will decide whether or not the submitted reviews should be considered, and if additional referees should be contacted.
    Since the concept of Open Access is frequently tied to specific license language and institutional repository policies, we decided to be clear about the key elements of “ASM Access.” These are (i) are immediate open access upon publication, (ii) immediate, unrestricted full text publication in PubMed Central, (iii) authors’ retaining copyright and all the rights recommended by SPARC, and (iv) a publishing license that will allow unrestricted non-commercial reuse. As a non-profit society publisher, ASM will use revenue from paid permissions for commercial reuse of mBio™ content to help support publication.
    All in all, Stan Maloy probably said it best today on Facebook: "'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.' Actually, I think this reflects the evolution of society journals to the open access mode."

    Arturo Casadeval
    Editor in Chief

  2. Thanks for the clarifications and comments Arturo. Here are some additional ones from me

    1.Thanks for the clarification that streamlined peer review does not mean less rigorous. However, it is still unclear how peer review will happen. Will editors do the review or will they send it out to others?

    2. Glad to hear that the AAM fellows review system is not completely like Track 1 in PNAS. However, I personally find systems that allow one class of scientists to have a different method of publishing than others to be a little bit unsavory.

    3. I am VERY pleased that this reflects ASM moving more towards Open Access. And I understand why you want to restrict some reuses of the pubs (though I wish even there you were more open). However, what I do not understand is why you could not just use a Creative Commons non commercial license like used by many other publishers.

    Anyway - overall - as I said - pleased to see movement towards more OA. And thanks for the clarifications.

  3. MBio sounds like a fantastic idea, and I hope it's a big success. More societies should follow ASM's lead.

  4. Jonathan
    I can weigh in on the operational questions. The mBio editors will send papers out for review to external referees. Also, we're drafting an author's license to publish that uses Creative Commons language, but that includes the usual warranty language (original publication, rights to publish, all authors agree to publication, etc.)
    Barbara Goldman
    Director, ASM Journals

  5. Thanks Barbara

    I would suggest making the language a tad clearer on the Web Site to describe the details about papers being sent out for review. But perhaps I just misread the wording ...

  6. Thanks for the good suggestion, Jonathan--will do!

  7. I hope that they put an RSS feed for the "current issue" - JVI and mmbr don't, or they have and I'm dumber than I tought...

    I whish them the best, it is really refreshing news.


  8. Under Open Access philosophy, Redalyc aims to contribute to the editorial scientific activity produced in and about Ibero-America making available for public consultation the content of 550 scientific journals of different knowledge areas: