'New journals concept' from CUP's Research Directions

'New journals concept' from CUP's Research Directions

Cambridge University Press is launching an initiative it describes as a "new concept" for the journal, bringing researchers from different fields together to explore fundamental questions which cut across traditional disciplines.

Research Directions is the brainchild of Fiona Hutton, CUP executive publisher and its head of STM Open Access publishing. A former research scientist, Hutton wants to provide alternatives to traditional journal formats and bring communities together to frame research to problems that no one discipline would be able to tackle alone, said the publisher.

CUP said the approach would "speed discovery by fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing between subject communities" as well as provide "opportunities to publish research from areas not well served by traditional, discipline-specific journals". 

The first titles under the Research Directions banner will be published in 2022, with an initial set of questions to answer, informed by feedback from hundreds of researchers. The publishing model will "mirror the research lifecycle", with the results, analysis and impact reviews all published as separate, Open Access, peer-reviewed and citable outputs on CUP's Cambridge Core platform.

In contrast to the traditional, self-contained research paper, researchers will be able to contribute at different stages in the process, sharing and building on each other’s work, the publisher said. They can submit results that address the questions posed, or analysis of others’ results, offering alternative insights and interpretations and using the findings to inform their own work. As the final part of the process, review articles will bring together the work done in response to particular questions, describing the context and the impact of what has been published.

After the initial launch of each journal, its future questions will be shaped within the research community, with proposals debated and refined before they are formally posed by the journals’ editorial boards.

At each stage, contributors will also be able to link research published on Cambridge Core to preprints, data, conference presentations and other supporting material that they post on the press' early research platform, Cambridge Open Engage, improving transparency and the reproducibility of results. Cambridge Open Engage will also offer a space for discussion and feedback, allowing wider input from the research community.

Hutton said: “There is a revolution under way in scholarly publishing, with major innovation and a disruption of the traditional forms that have become a source of frustration for some researchers.

“Research Directions disrupts traditional journal publication to better reflect the research lifecycle, while attracting researchers and authors to pose and address the big questions in their field. It puts the emphasis firmly back on the research, and provides space for discovery and collaboration in ways limited by traditional research papers.

“Where before you would have had a series of very static, traditional journals, you will now have living communities of researchers, working together, sharing and learning from each other’s findings to answer questions that they themselves have helped to shape. At the same time, we retain the benefits of rigorous and open peer review alongside the quality assurance and support that comes from publishing with Cambridge."