EDU 2008 Call for Commentaries

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Call for Commentaries

Foundations of Science
Deadline: 15 August 2009

Special Issue on the Conference on the Evolution and Development of the Universe.
Wed - Thu, 8 - 9 October 2008, Paris, France

You'll find below the papers open to Peer Commentary, the instructions for commentators and the instructions for authors.

Introduction: why commentaries?

Disagreements and debates are at the heart of scientific activity. Surprisingly, they appear most of the time in a private form, such as in private discussions or in private email conversations. Some internet forums and discussion lists organize debates, but many researchers feel discouraged to enter in such long and often confusing discussions. Articles criticizing others are published from time to time (although relatively rarely), but one has to wait a lot of time before seeing them appear, and one do not know what would the original author think about it.

How can we make visible and benefit from scientific debates? How can papers be commented upon, with the author giving his response?

A solution has been proposed which is called "Open Peer Commentary" (OPC). It was first introduced by the Current Anthropology journal and community, and more famously by the Brain and Behavioral Sciences (BBS) journal. The purpose of the OPC service is to provide a concentrated constructive interaction between author and commentators on a topic judged to be of broad significance to the Evo Devo Universe community. OPC does not replace peer-review, and all the proposed papers subject to OPC have already undergone rigorous peer-review. Organizing OPC requires a lot of work from the editorial point of view. The BBS community, which has been providing this service for many years, has built up a distributed "army" of voluntary editors to manage this. For this issue of Foundations of Science, we propose instead a "Self-Organized Open Peer Commentary", which delegates to the author the editorial role for managing the commentaries. Indeed, we think that if authors would like to add value to their papers, they can be responsible for it, inviting researchers to comment on it, compiling the results, and providing a response to commentaries.

The benefits for the author are obvious: his paper is at the center of attention of many scientists and he can benefit from the insights and perspectives of many commentators. The benefits for the commentator are twofold. First, it allows him to express his (critical) view and contrast it to the author's position. This effort is not blind, since the author will have to provide a response. Second, the commentary is published along with the paper, which of course counts as a publication.

Papers open to Peer Commentary

  • Chaline, J. Does species evolution follow scale laws ? First applications of the Scale Relativity Theory to Fossil and Living-beings, (Abstract)
  • Durt, T. Quantum Mechanics and Environment-Induced Superselection Rules (Abstract)
  • Ekstig, B. Complexity and Evolution, (Abstract)
  • Greben, J. The Role of Energy Conservation and Vacuum Energy in the Evolution of the Universe, (Abstract)
  • Heylighen, F. The Self-organization of Time and Causality: steps towards understanding the ultimate origin, (Abstract
  • Jagers op Akkerhuis, G. Towards a Hierarchical Definition of Life, the Organism, and Death, (Abstract)
  • Lori, N. & Blin, A. Application of Quantum Darwinism to Cosmic Inflation, (Abstract)
  • Nottale, L. Scale Relativity and Fractal Space-Time: Theory and Applications, (Abstract)
  • Salthe, S. Development (and Evolution) of the Universe (Abstract)
  • Stewart, J. The Meaning of Life in a Developing Universe, John Stewart (Abstract)
  • Vidal, C. Computational and Biological Analogies for Understanding Fine-Tuned Parameters in Physics, (Abstract)

Instructions for Commentators

  • Who is eligible to comment?

Active researchers expert in the papers' domain are eligible to comment.

  • I know someone who would have a lot to comment about this paper. Can I invite him?

Sure! For this purpose, you can use and adapt the template invitation email we propose. If you wish to make it more "official", you can also add the editors of this issue of Foundations of Science (FoS) in CC.

  • How can I submit my commentary?

Commentaries are submitted by email, directly to the author who is responsible for the organization of commentaries on his paper, with CC to the editors of FoS: Diederik Aerts (Director in Chief of FoS), and Clément Vidal (Guest Editor for the Special issue on the Evolution and Development of the Universe EDU-2008).

  • How should I prepare my commentary?

Commentators should provide substantive criticism, interpretation, and elaboration as well as any pertinent complementary or supplementary material, such as illustrations; all original data will be refereed in order to assure the archival validity of Foundations of Science commentaries. Please do not devote the limited space in your commentary to repeating the contents of the accompanying target article.
Commentaries should not exceed 1,000 words, excluding references. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation should be consistent within each article and commentary and should follow the style recommended in the latest edition of A Manual of Style, The University of Chicago Press.
Please provide an informative, indexable title for your commentary, and an abstract. As many commentators will address the same general topic, your title should be a distinctive one that reflects the gist of your specific contribution and that is suitable for the kind of keyword indexing used in modern bibliographic retrieval systems.

Commentaries should be free of hyperbole and remarks ad hominem. If you are not sure how to do this, we advice you to use Rosenberg's very efficient Nonviolent communication because its use automatically avoids any ad hominem argument, and increases significantly the chances of a constructive reply. This method is also useful when you would like to express strong disagreements in a non violent way.

If you experience enduring disagreements, you can try argumentation mapping methods to clarify the debate. For example, in Goldratt's Theory of Constraints, a first step is to agree on what the problem is before discussing any possible solution.
Please also ensure that your submission has been proofread by a native English speaker before submission. More concretely, here is an example of open peer commentary: Steels, L., and T. Belpaeme. 2005. Coordinating Perceptually Grounded Categories Through Language: A Case Study for Colour. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28, no. 04: 469-489.

To summarize, please make sure your commentary has ALL of the following in this order:

  • 04. FULL NAME(S)
  • 07. INSTITUTIONAL TELEPHONE NUMBER(S) (for correspondence)
  • 09. ONE HOME PAGE URL EACH (where available)
  • 10. 60 word ABSTRACT
  • 11. 1000 word max. MAIN TEXT
  • May I just ask a short but very clear question to the author?

Sure. However, be aware that if you don't elaborate the context (e.g. previous work) of your question, it might be misinterpreted.

  • Will my commentary be published in the journal?

We will try to publish as many of the submitted commentaries as possible in the journal. Please note that although most commentaries will appear, they are subject to editorial review and acceptance cannot be guaranteed in advance.

Occasionally, non-published commentaries will be published on the web. Furthermore, only if the author commits to replying to new ones can commentaries be continued and available on the web. Some especially interesting discussion can also be submitted for publication in a later issue of FoS.

Instructions for Authors

  • Can I improve my paper with the commentaries?

No, you can't! Once the commentary stage of the process has begun, the author can no longer alter the article, but can respond formally to all commentaries. The target article, commentaries, and authors' responses then co-appear in Foundations of Science.

  • Who will be invited to comment on my paper?

There are two ways your paper will be publicized.

First, you can send direct invitations to colleagues you know, to comment on your paper. You can use and adapt the template invitation email that we propose below. If you wish to make this more "official", you can also add the editors of this issue of FoS in CC. Second, any researcher having interests in the Evo Devo Universe community themes can be invited. Indeed, your paper will be archived publicly and available for potential commentators. Editors and in fact anyone interested can spread this general "Call for commentaries" to colleagues, mailing lists, etc.

  • Can I refuse to reply to a commentary?

No you can't. If for exceptional reasons you would like to do so, you should motivate and negotiate this with the editors.

  • Can I have great discussions with commentators?

The published versions of commentaries are "one shot" only. This means that we don't allow discussion threads. However, you can of course have more in depth discussion with commentators. We simply don't advise it, as it can complicate your editorial work. If you decide to anyway do it, please remember it is entirely your own responsibility to agree with the commentator to "clean up" the discussion so that in the end there still remains a commentary, and your response to it. If you can handle this, then this could indeed greatly improve the quality of the exchange.

  • Can we continue the discussion?

If you (the author) commit to replying to new commentaries, the discussion can be continued and available on the web. Some especially interesting discussion can also be submitted for publication in a later issue of FoS.

Template invitation email

Dear Prof. xxxxxxx

I would like to invite you to comment on my paper hereby attached, which will be published in the (ISI) Journal Foundations of Science. If you decide to write a commentary (which I hope you will), it will be published along with my response to it.

Please find below the abstract of the paper, and the more detailed instructions for commentators. Best regards,xxxxx

---abstract of the paper---

---instructions for commentators---

Important Dates

  • 15 August 2009 : Deadline for Commentators.
  • 15 September 2009 : Deadline for Authors, to submit their response.

If you have any question or problem, please read this document carefully before contacting the editors.

I warmly thank Steven Harnad for his help setting up this open commentary. I took wide inspiration from the BBS guidelines.