Jul 11, 2014

Joining The Winnower


I am proud to join The Winnower, a revolutionary open science project, as Web software engineer and advisor. The Winnower is an innovative open science publishing platform-i.e., an academic journal-that employs open post-publication peer review. The platform aims to revolutionize how science is communicated by breaking down the barriers to scientific communication. While its founder Josh Nicholson has described it extensively elsewhere, I can summarise three features that I love about it.

First of all, articles are published as open access in HTML and PDF immediately after submission. The platform has a built-in typesetting functionality, which eliminates the waiting time arising from editing services.

The results? Look for yourself. First is the HTML page, then the PDF.


The second best feature of The Winnower, in my opinion, is that it accepts almost any possible submission. Let me clarify that. Academic journals usually have a specific scope (which becomes wide only in open access megajournals like PLOS ONE and PeerJ) and accept certain submission type. For example, PeerJ considers only research article, and it does not accept “Literature Review Articles, Hypothesis Papers, Commentaries, Opinion Pieces, Case Studies, Case Reports etc.”. That is not necessarily bad, as it lets them concentrate on quantitative-oriented articles that are easier to review. However, there are several missed opportunities for authors who enjoy writing papers in the excluded list. Not only does The Winnower accept those article types mentioned below. It accepts anything, which can potentially be peer-reviewed. This includes conference reports, reviews/experience reports of submissions to academic journals, the stories behind research that’s made an immense impact on science, the stories behind research that was retracted, etc. Soon, there will even be the possibilities to submit blog posts of academics for review. That is innovation in science.

The third best feature of The Winnower is that the peer review process is author- and community-driven. There are no formal editors in The Winnower. Or, better said, authors are their own editors. The authors submit articles, which are immediately published but not archived. Then, any member of the community, including the authors and readers, can invite reviewers. Based on the reviews, the authors can revise their articles. When the authors are satisfied with their articles, they can formally archive them. The articles receive a DOI and cannot subsequently be modified anymore. However, the reviews might come anytime. Reviews can be voted and commented by the community. Again, that is innovation in science.

The bonus feature of The Winnower is that anybody involved with it will listen to the authors and the readers. I have evidence for it. Any feedback and suggestion I provided before joining The Winnower was inserted in their project tracker, discussed, and possibly implemented.


For these and many other reasons, I proudly joined The Winnower. I am involved as a Web software engineer with an academic background. Therefore, I act as a bridge between the journal CEO and the software development company implementing the platform. My responsibilities include front- and back-end development for refining the visitors’ reading and publishing experience. In particular, my aim is to improve the trustworthiness of the journal perceived through its website and the published articles (HTML and PDF). I want to ensure that The Winnower is indexed properly in academic databases. Last but not least, I challenge Josh continuously with provoking e-mails, feature proposals, and comments on his ideas. My commitment is not full-time, as I am involved in a PhD and many other initiatives. But I am highly motivated.

Why am I doing this? I just want to help a disruptively innovating project and improve the world I live in. Currently, my world is academic. I hope my work will have some impact on The Winnower, enhance its functionalities and the way potential authors perceive it, and become a serious contribution to open science.

As the codebase is not trivial at all, I started with small things in order to learn the architecture. My first contributions are a clearer adherence to the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License at submission time and on the published articles, and ensuring proper citations to published articles, e.g.,

Daniel Graziotin, An author-based review of the Journal of Open Research Software, The Winnower 1:e140326.62772 (2014). DOI: 10.15200/winn.140326.62772

My next addition will be much more desirable among academics: Altmetric for all archived articles.

Stay tuned for more.

written by dgraziotin

Dr. Daniel Graziotin received his PhD in computer science, software engineering at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy. His research interests include human aspects in empirical software engineering with psychological measurements, Web engineering, and open science. He researches, publishes, and reviews for venues in software engineering, human-computer interaction, and psychology. Daniel is the founder of the psychoempirical software engineering discipline and guidelines. He is associate editor at the Journal of Open Research Software, academic editor at the Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal, and academic editor at the Open Communications in Computer Science journal. He is the local coordinator of the Italian Open science local group for the Open Knowledge Foundation. He is a member of ACM, SIGSOFT, and IEEE.

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