1. What excites you about working as a Microbiologist?
Microbiology has long become the testing grounds for new technologies and it has been instrumental for the emergence of hypotheses and theory. Today’s new “next-generation technologies” have afforded microbiologists (which are actually a collection of mathematicians, chemists, geologists, physicists and engineers) to stop doing what their original craft prescribes – reductionism – and to study microbes at the levels of their natural existence, namely in populations, communities and ecosystems. This has led to spectacular insight and the recognition that bacteria and archaea are facultative multi-cellular organisms with chemical and social lifestyles that are the foundation for a functioning Biosphere on planet Earth. Hence, humankind’s quality of life and its sustainability will always demand continued pursuit towards a better understanding of microorganisms.
2. Why did you join Frontiers in Microbiology as Field Chief Editor?
I immediately saw the possibility to create cross-disciplinary platforms of communication for colleagues that rarely “reach across the isle” to colleagues that either study similar organisms and phenomena with different approaches. It was an opportunity to build such platforms with scientists (the authors) for scientist (the readers) by scientists (the reviewers & editors) without the stranglehold of a particular business model, because the goal was to provide means for open communication. This enabled new perspectives in the field such as the specialties of “Cellular and Infection Microbiology”, “Microbial Symbioses”, “Systems Microbiology”, or ”Aquatic Microbiology.” What made this process easy despite the countless hours was the “electric” spirit of open-access at all levels and through all stages of my Frontiers experience.
3. How do you see Frontiers in Microbiology making its mark within the scientific literature?
Frontiers started as a “dare to be great” adventure with a need for tireless advocacy to convince the skeptics that yet another open-access journal might be different. At the beginning, the majority of submitted manuscripts were solicited by personal and electronic campaigns. In the three years of its existence, Frontiers in Microbiology has attained a completely different dynamo in that the majority of manuscripts are submitted independently. This is because Frontiers in Microbiology publishes papers of value to the peer community as shown by the high numbers of article views and downloads.
4. What has been your experience with Frontiers interactive peer review?
One of the most important tasks in building a journal is the staffing of its editorial board. Scientists are skeptics and critical by nature and only peer review at the highest standard can convince prospective authors to submit their manuscripts and readers to read papers published in Frontiers in Microbiology. An instrumental part of peer review in all Frontiers journals is that it is interactive, which basically guaranties that the review by peers contributes to improvement in the quality of the communicated scientific work. Once a script has passed initial tests for authenticity and originality, the handling editor, the reviewers and the authors collectively work towards bringing about the best possible product. This makes for a critical, but professional and rather kind tone in the conversation. The disclosure of the names on a published paper credits the effort by all that participated in the process. This collaborative effort by authors, reviewers and editors creates a sense of community.
5. How do you see Frontiers fitting into the bigger picture of open science?
By introducing interactive peer review, post-publication and impact analysis at all levels from an individual article to the Journal, Frontiers has joined the trailblazers of gold-road open access publishers. Frontiers’ Evaluation and Tiering system combined with impact metrics and universal access to all content has created a democratic and transparent system for information flow and demonstrable impact. Endorsements of the Frontiers system by major science organizations such as the German Max-Planck-Society and leading Universities are good indicators for Frontiers’ excellent fit into the bigger picture of open science.
6. What do you predict the future of scholarly publishing to look like?
Scholarly publishing will move increasingly towards the digital format and be openly accessible on-line as required by many governments and funders. Since media formats such as the Frontiers Research Network have been successfully developed, the challenges ahead are tied to authenticity and quality control. Open-access publishing will develop to be the best way to share and contribute to the collective wisdom of scientists and physicians.
Follow Martin Klotz on the Frontiers Research Network here.
This article will be appearing in Nature, Nature Reviews Microbiology and Nature Immunology magazines. Reprinted with permission.