Episciences serving bibliodiversity

Written by Léo Raimbault

How can scientific excellence and editorial diversity be reconciled in the academic research landscape? At a time when traditional publishing models are being questioned, Episciences is establishing itself as an innovative alternative in the scientific publishing landscape.

This 9th edition of “Parlons Science ouverte” presented the latest news from Episciences in favor of bibliodiversity, with a special focus on one of the platform’s newest journals, Open Plasma Science, the first diamond model physics publication supported by the Université de Lorraine.

Speakers included:

  • Céline Barthonnat, Editorial Director, Episciences, CCSD
  • Raphaël Tournoy, Platform Manager, Episciences, CCSD
  • Hélène Lowinger, Scientific Publishing Coordinator, Scientific Information and Publishing Service (IES), Inria-DCIS
  • Aricia Bassinet, Scientific Publishing Support Officer, Université de Lorraine
  • Aemil Querre, Scientific Publishing Officer, Université de Lorraine



This post is a summary of the presentations given at the 9th edition of “Parlons Science ouverte”

Episciences news
Presentation of Céline Barthonnat and Raphaël Tournoy
Episciences in 2023

Continuously evolving since 2013, Episciences enriches its catalog of journals each year. In May 2024, it will include 36 journals, ten more than in 2023. Initially focused on mathematics, computer science, and humanities and social sciences journals, Episciences is now opening up to new disciplines such as biomechanics, physics, and health sciences.

As part of the redesign of the CCSD’s institutional sites in 2023, the Episciences showcase site has been modernized. The Episciences documentation has been enriched with video tutorials describing step-by-step how to deposit a preprint on arXiv, HAL and Zenodo.

Submitting a preprint to Episciences

To submit a publication to an Episciences journal, the process is simple. All you need to do is use the identifier assigned by the archive where the document was previously deposited, along with its version number. On HAL, this process has recently been simplified. The HAL submission form now includes the option to submit directly to an Episciences journal.

It is also possible to add additional information to a submission, such as perennial identifiers for software archived by Software Heritage (SWHID) or links to datasets. Once an article is published on Episciences, an automatic metadata enrichment process takes place. ORCID identifiers are retrieved via the OpenAIRE Graph API, references citing Episciences publications via OpenCitations, and links between datasets and publications via Scholexplorer. A new application makes it easy to extract bibliographic references, display them with the articles, and distribute them via Crossref DOI metadata. Episciences metadata is available under a CC0 license thanks to an OAI-PMH repository and a REST API.

In short, Episciences provides new tools to facilitate the process of submitting, publishing and enriching metadata.

Referencing on Episciences: feedback from Inria

Presentation by Hélène Lowinger

The importance of referencing

In an ever-growing sea of journals and articles, referencing is a major challenge if you want to stand out from the crowd. Better indexing improves a journal’s discoverability and visibility, making it more attractive to researchers and funders. This translates into an increase in submissions, which contributes to its reputation and, of course, its impact in terms of citations. Diamond journals are no exception and are also committed to this referencing approach.

With this in mind, Inria, responsible for the Episciences portfolio of computer science and applied mathematics journals, has decided to give preference to transparent reference databases that promote the principles of open science and are, wherever possible, independent of commercial publishers.

Which platforms to choose?

In the complex landscape of referencing tools, many platforms contribute to increasing the visibility of a journal. Hélène Lowinger stresses the importance of targeting the most relevant databases for a journal, rather than aiming for wide distribution at all costs.

Among the vast catalog of reference databases, some are generalist, such as Sudoc or Mir@bel. They are often interconnected and managed by scientific information professionals. Others, such as DOAJ, Sherpa Romeo or ROAD, are generalists but focus on the open access policies of journals.

Some databases are thematically specialized, benefiting from recognition in specific scholarly circles and attracting a more limited audience. However, they remain relevant for journals that share their specialty.

Academic search engines such as Google Scholar, OpenAIRE or OpenAlex also play a crucial role in the collection of metadata, underlining the importance of their quality, readability and completeness.

Hélène Lowinger recommends making a wise choice among these different options in order to optimize the effectiveness of referencing while avoiding cumbersome procedures. The choice of databases in which your journal is referenced can be made taking into account the compatibility with the open access policy of a database, its subject area or its readership…

Special attention must be paid to the quality and conformity of metadata and editorial content. For example, a journal may not be indexed in a database because its format does not meet the platform’s requirements, particularly with regard to the number of articles per issue or the display of open access policies.

Models and best practices

How does Inria reference the Episciences journals in its portfolio?

First of all, it is crucial to follow the recommendations and criteria established by reference organizations such as DOAJ, COPE or OASPA, which are essential to guarantee the quality of a journal. The QUERO criteria, for example, contain a number of recommendations in this regard. These include a description of the peer review process, the names and affiliations of editorial board members, and the mention of licenses and copyrights.

Hélène Lowinger insists on the need to make the answers to these criteria clear and unambiguous. That’s why the portfolio’s listing managers are committed to adding a generic page to each journal’s page that provides a comprehensive description of its editorial policy.

In addition, in the interest of transparency, some databases may require that the journal’s statistics be displayed. Statistics may include rejection rates, time from submission to acceptance, or time to publication. This transparency is particularly appreciated by authors, who often request it.

The display of bibliographies extracted from PDFs may also be required by certain referencing databases, as Episciences enables via the APIs of Crossref or OpenCitations, as mentioned in the first part of this post.

In return, journals can enhance the value of the databases in which they are indexed, reinforcing their visibility and credibility.

Focus on Open Plasma Science

Presentation by Aricia Bassinet and Aemil Querre

In the world of scientific publishing, most plasma physics journals adopt the hybrid or Gold Open Access model, which involves a fee (APC) for Open Access publication.

This is not the case for Open Plasma Science (OPS), led by Jérôme Moritz, a researcher at the Institut Jean Lamour. One of the latest journals distributed by Episciences and supported by the University of Lorraine, OPS, as its name suggests, fully embodies the principle of openness. As proof, it is the first plasma physics journal to choose the diamond model.

Choosing Episciences

OPS has chosen Episciences for the distribution of its publications. This choice is perfectly in line with the diamond model, which advocates free access for authors and readers, and the overlay* model practiced by Episciences, which is particularly well suited to the physics community, which has historically supported open archives.

Like the other journals published by Episciences, the content of OPS is based on preprints deposited in open archives, mainly HAL and arXiv, before being submitted for peer review.

What’s more, the presence of the CNRS as the platform’s supervisory body is an additional guarantee of solidity and trust for researchers and potential submission candidates.

*”An overlay journal is an innovative type of scientific publication based on data warehouses and preprint servers” – DARIAH-EU, 2024.

Launching a new journal

Launching a scientific journal is a long process. Aimed at an international readership, the journal naturally has a cosmopolitan editorial board, which must promote the publication and unite communities of authors and readers. This is no easy task in a discipline where a journal’s impact factor must be high in order to be considered for publication.

OPS has set itself the goal of convincing the community by publishing articles by leading scientists and proceedings of international symposia. Although the initial goal is to be listed in prestigious indexes such as Scopus and Web of Science, the priority remains to be referenced by DOAJ and other more transparent databases.

Still in its infancy, OPS has a long way to go before it is fully recognized in the field of plasma physics. However, with the unwavering support of Episciences and the Documentation Department of the Université de Lorraine, OPS is well equipped to meet this challenge. This collaboration ensures a robust infrastructure and strategic support essential for the journal’s development and visibility.


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