EDU 2008 Call for Commentaries
Foundations of Science
15 August 2009
Extended to 15 September
Special Issue on the Conference on the Evolution and Development of the Universe.
Wed - Thu, 8 - 9 October 2008, Paris, France
The purpose of Open Commentary is to provide a constructive interaction between author and commentators. The target article, commentaries, and authors' responses are published together in Foundations of Science.
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 all scientific activity. Surprisingly, they appear most of the time in a private form, as in private discussions or private email conversations. Some internet forums and discussion lists host online debates, but these are not indexed in the scientific literature, and many researchers feel discouraged to enter into open-ended and confusing discussions of their work. Articles criticizing others are published from time to time (although relatively rarely), but one usually has to wait months before they appear in print, and even then the reader does not know what the original author thinks of the critique.
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 developed that 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 OPC is to provide a concentrated constructive interaction between author and commentators on a topic judged to be of broad significance to the EDU community.
OPC does not replace peer-review, and all the proposed papers subject to OPC have already undergone rigorous peer-review. Organizing OPC requires additional work from an 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 of OPC 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 of OPC 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 for Open Peer Commentary
- Chaline, J. Does species evolution follow scale laws ? First applications of the Scale Relativity Theory to Fossil and Living-beings, (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)
- Salthe, S. Development (and Evolution) of the Universe (Abstract)
- Stewart, J. The Meaning of Life in a Developing Universe, (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 any of the papers' domains are eligible to comment.
- I know someone who would have a lot to comment about on my or another's paper. Can I invite him?
Sure! For this purpose, you can use and adapt the template invitation email we propose below. 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). Please include "EDU-2008-OPC" in the subject of the email.
- 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 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 ad hominem remarks. If you are not sure how to do this, use Rosenberg's very efficient Nonviolent communication as its use automatically avoids ad hominem argument, and significantly increases the chance of a constructive reply. This method is also useful when you would like to express strong disagreements in a nonviolent 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. http://evodevouniverse.com/uploads/6/6e/Open_peer_commentary_example.pdf
To summarize, please make sure your commentary has ALL of the following in this order:
- 01. THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR(S) OF THE TARGET ARTICLE
- 02. FOUR SEPARATE WORD COUNTS (ABSTRACT, MAIN TEXT, REFERENCES, ENTIRE TEXT (TOTAL + ADDRESSES etc.)
- 03. AN INDEXABLE AND INFORMATIVE COMMENTARY TITLE
- 04. FULL NAME(S) OF COMMENTATOR(S)
- 05. INSTITUTION
- 06. FULL INSTITUTIONAL MAILING ADDRESS(S)
- 07. INSTITUTIONAL TELEPHONE NUMBER(S) (for correspondence)
- 08. ONE EMAIL ADDRESS EACH
- 09. ONE HOME PAGE URL EACH (where available)
- 10. 60 word ABSTRACT
- 11. 1000 word max. MAIN TEXT
- 12. ALPHABETICAL REFERENCE LIST (APA STANDARD)
- 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 may also be submitted for publication in a later issue of FoS.
Instructions for Authors
- How should I prepare my response?
The same guidelines for commentators apply to author's responses, except the 1000 words limit. See above.
- 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 is 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.
- What do I do with the commentaries I received?
Each author acts as a local editor for the commentaries he receives. This means that he has to compile the commentaries and his response in a single document that he'll send to the editors.
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. The deadline is August 15.
Please find below the abstract of the paper, and you'll find detailed instructions for commentators at: http://evodevouniverse.com/wiki/EDU_2008_Call_for_Commentaries
---abstract of the paper---
15 August 2009Extended to 15 September: Deadline for Commentators.
15 October 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.