Save the date: participative Bay Area OA week event for Generation Open

Join us as we join forces with ScienceOpen, ZappyLab and My Science Work (and others to be announced) to celebrate OA with a participative event at Open Access Week in the Bay Area.

A core group initiated by Liz Allen (ScienceOpen), including Lenny Teytelman (ZappyLab), Laurence Bianchini (My Science Work), Peter Binfield and Georgina Gurnhill (PeerJ), brainstormed what our ideal OA week event would look like.

We agreed that we wanted to avoid a traditional format and so we settled on:

- Moderated un-conference where the audience talks and asks questions

- Simple event theme, we picked “#OpenAccess – it’s up to all of us

- “Lightning talks” that anyone can give, 5 image slides in 5 minutes

- Time to chat and mingle over a drink and something to eat

- Ideally, a cool venue with great views (and Disabled Access)

As a group we feel that the program below achieves our vision. We ran it past our academic partners UCSF Library (Anneliese Taylor), UAW post-doc union (Felicia Goldsmith) and they liked it too. Now all we need is for you all to save the date and make this an event to remember.

Date: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Venue: SkyDeck, Berkeley (one of the first research university startup accelerators)

Time: 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm

Theme: #OpenAccess – it’s up to all of us

Format (suitable for global cloning!):

  1. 8 mins – relax with a drink, a snack and “What is OA?” video by Jorge Cham (PhD Comics), Nick Shockey (Right to Research) and Jonathan Eisen (UCD)
  2. 10 minutes – un-conference OA topic selection by audience
  3. 20 minutes – topic discussion with moderation (your host for the evening, Lenny!)
  4. 10 minutes – grab another drink (alcoholic or non), stave off hunger with nibbles
  5. 40 minutes – lightning talks, “#OpenAccess – it’s up to all of us”
  6. Last 30 minutes or so – greeting old friends and making some new ones

In the coming weeks, we’ll be letting you know where to send your lightning talks and the deadline for doing so. We will be recording them for social media too - so anyone not able to attend in person can listen in. Look out for the Eventbrite too so you can RSVP.

Finally, in the spirit of “the more the merrier” other OA Publishers and Academic Partners who want to participate are welcome to email Liz.  


Research Update - Squirrel monkey social learning

Last year, we published “Dissecting the mechanisms of squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis) social learning”, an important article which received good attention from the community. As you can see, this article has already been cited several times, and the PDF has a high proportion of download to views (indicating that a large proportion of readers are choosing to save the article for future study). We invited the first author Lydia Hopper to comment on the impact of her work in the scientific community.

image©Lincoln Park Zoo/Todd Rosenberg Photography

PJ: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

LH: I am a Research Scientist at the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I have the wonderfully fortunate role of helping our Center Director to design and coordinate the on-grounds behavioral, cognitive, and welfare research that we run with our resident chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas. This involves both observational data collection of the animals’ behavior, social relationships, and space use, as well the implementation of experimental paradigms, such as using touchscreen interfaces to assess their ability to learn and remember sequences of symbols. As a scientist, the most exciting part about working in a zoo is that we conduct much of our research in view of the public. This means that we can not only inform our guests about the findings of our research, but also teach them about the scientific process.

PJ: Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?

LH: It was a study of squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis) social learning. Squirrel monkeys are small Neotropical monkeys that are highly gregarious and curious, which is why we thought they would be a perfect species for this study. Social learning describes how an individual can gain information from the actions of another, whether by observing them directly or learning from the outcomes of the behavior. Social learning is important not only because it enables individuals to gain new skills more quickly, by cutting out time-consuming, and potentially dangerous, trial-and-error learning, but it is also the non-genetic inheritance system that underpins human culture. Therefore, for a number of years, researchers have been studying the extent to which animals are capable of social learning. Previous studies of social learning had been run with a number of species, including fish, rodents, birds, primates, and even, as reported in a study published in PeerJ last year, goats (Baciadonna et al. 2013. PeerJ 1:e172). However, when we published our study, no other had really investigated the social learning skills of squirrel monkeys. We found that the monkeys were able to learn a new foraging skill from observing their group mates and that, as has been reported for other Neoptropical monkeys, having the social support of their group mates really encouraged exploration of the novel food source that we introduced.

PJ: What was the reception of your peers to this publication?

LH: I was at the International Ethology Conference shortly after our study had been published and I was amazed to see a speaker reference our study and include figures from our article in his talk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my research referenced so quickly by my peers! Interestingly, in addition to receiving positive feedback about my article, many of my friends and colleagues were also curious about the journal as they had not heard of PeerJ. I had been so impressed with this ease and speed of the submission and editorial process that I have recommended it to many of my friends. Indeed, along with one of our former postdocs, our Center Director, Steve Ross, submitted an article to PeerJ after I suggested it to him as a good forum for his research, and I’m excited to report that they recently had their article accepted in PeerJ [Note from PeerJ: soon to be published!].

PJ: Your article has been cited and downloaded several times already. Would you say that this publication has influenced others?

LH: I hope so, but I guess time will tell! However, it seems that we picked a hot topic because, only a couple of months after our study was published, a second article on squirrel monkey (S. sciureus) social learning was published.

PJ: Why do you think it has been highly cited and downloaded?

LH: I think that the fact that PeerJ is an open access journal was really instrumental in getting our findings disseminated so quickly, and to a wider audience. Furthermore, in the past 12 months, other articles about primate social cognition have also been published in PeerJ (e.g., Carter et al. 2014. PeerJ 2:e283 and Suchak et al. 2014. PeerJ 2:e417), which has garnered the journal more attention from people from within my field.

PJ: How has your research progressed since the publication?

LH: I continue to be fascinated by social cognition and am currently involved with studies focused on a number of topics including primates’ responses to inequity, their ability to cooperate, and also, of course, social learning. At Lincoln Park Zoo, I’m designing experiments that are not only theoretically interesting, but also offer cognitive and welfare benefits to the apes that choose to participate. This is a key focus of our Center and it has been exciting for me to expand my research to incorporate studies of an applied nature.

PJ: What are you working on at the moment in this area?

LH: At the zoo, we are currently investigating the interplay between chimpanzees’ individual innovative behavior and socially-influenced learning in a foraging context. I’m really interested to discover how each chimpanzee’s strategies or choices may be influenced by the behavior and decisions of their group mates. This is an on-going study, so watch this space!


One of the group of chimpanzees at Lincoln Park Zoo that Lydia works with  - ©Lincoln Park Zoo/Todd Rosenberg Photography

We hope to read more about Lydia Hopper’s research soon, and we encourage any others working in the field to submit their work to PeerJ.


Announcing a new PeerJ Spotlight Collection for our Top Coral Articles

Corals and coral reefs host great biological diversity, they are early indicators of environmental change, and they are increasingly under threat. To showcase the outstanding coral research currently being published in PeerJ we have created a new "PeerJ Spotlight" Collection which collects some of the best articles we have published so far.


Image: Figure 6 from https://peerj.com/articles/327/

This new Collection of ten articles represents some of the most noteworthy coral research we have published since launch. It clearly demonstrates that leading coral researchers are choosing to publish some of their best work in PeerJ.

To compile the collection we asked our 5 most prolific Academic Editors in this area (as noted here) to nominate articles which stood out to them. The result is a subjective snapshot of the best coral research appearing in PeerJ today. The authors of every single one of these articles also chose to make their peer-review history public, making them even more useful for the community. We encourage you to explore this Collection, as well as to use our search functionality to find other articles of interest.

This Collection will remain live for 4 months, but we will be releasing a new ‘PeerJ Spotlight’ Collection each month. We’d like you to help us choose the next subject areas - so please tweet us with the topic you’d like us to feature in October and be sure to use the hashtag #peerjspotlight. Alternately you can email us at info@peerj.com

We thank our Academic Editors John Bruno, Alex Ford, Monica Medina, Pei-Yuan Qian and Robert Toonen for their invaluable input in compiling this list. And, of course, congratulations to the authors who have been selected for the Collection!

If you are a researcher working in this area, then we encourage you to submit your next articles to PeerJ.


PeerJ partners with WriteLaTex


PeerJ is delighted to announce that we have partnered with writeLaTeX. Anyone signing up to our publishing plans between now and November 30th 2014 will receive a free writeLaTeX account. With a PeerJ ‘Basic’ plan you are entitled to a free writeLaTeX Pro account, or with a PeerJ ‘Enhanced’ plan or above you can claim a writeLaTeX Pro+ account. What’s not to like?

If you haven’t already heard, writeLaTeX is an online collaborative LaTeX editor tailored to researchers. It is the easy way to create, edit and publish your research, and we think you should try it out.

writeLaTeX offers “what you see is what you get” editing tools which will work for you even if you have never written in LaTeX before. Learn more about the benefits of writeLaTeX.

Simply sign up to one of our publishing plans today and we’ll take care of the rest.

Note: Current holders of a paid PeerJ can also take advantage of this offer - simply log on and activate here.


New mushroom species in a commercial packet - Author Interview


Bryn Dentinger, mycologist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, identified three new species of mushrooms contained within a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini. Brin and his colleague Laura Suz first reported the discovery in PeerJ PrePrints a few weeks ago, and today we are excited to publish the peer-reviewed version of their article.

We invited Bryn Dentinger to comment on his work and his experience publishing with us.

Photo credit: Félix Forest

PJ: Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?

BD: My colleague and I identified species of mushrooms found in a packet of dried porcini purchased from a grocer in London using DNA barcoding. We discovered that of the 15 randomly selected pieces from the packet, we could diagnose three distinct species, none of which had been formally named by scientists.

PJ: Do you have any anecdotes about this research?

BD: My wife bought this packet on a whim because the labeling suggested the mushroom originated in the tropics, where typical commercial porcini do not occur natively. She knew I would be interested in knowing what species might be in the packet. So, really, the credit for this should go to her.

PJ: What surprised you the most with these results?

BD: I expected to find species that had no formal names – when I enquired, the company spokesperson confirmed my suspicions that the porcini originated in southern China, and unnamed species of porcini in the international food chain were already known from previous studies. What surprised me was how many species we found represented in just 15 pieces from a single packet. Porcini are conspicuous and often well known relative to other mushrooms because of their culinary qualities. So finding three unnamed species in a packet sold in London is kind of like discovering new species of tuna from a tin.


Photo credit: Bryn Dentinger

PJ: What kinds of lessons do you hope the public takes away from the research?

BD: I hope that the public sees how taxonomy of the natural world can be relevant to everyday life, even today. The science of naming and classifying life is too often taken for granted, but for largely unknown groups like fungi, it is still an exciting field with fundamentally important scientifically significant advances. I also hope the public appreciates how diverse and understudied fungi like porcini are – we probably know 5-10% of the fungi in the world, yet of these few they have given us important foods (bread, beer), medicines, and ecosystem services.

PJ: Where do you hope to go from here?

BD: I would be interested to know just how many species of porcini are being traded globally and how ubiquitous these new species are in the marketplace. But for me the real mysteries of porcini remain undiscovered in poorly explored (mycologically) regions of the world, especially tropical Asia and Africa.

PJ: Why did you choose to reproduce the complete peer-review history of your article?

BD: I think it’s important to be transparent about peer review, especially in science. Opinion often influences decisions made during review, but by making reviews and responses publicly available, it reveals how science and reporting of science is itself a process, and it also allows everyone to make their own interpretations of these decisions.

PJ: How did you first hear about PeerJ, and what persuaded you to submit to us?

BD: I first heard about PeerJ from a colleague, who was recently appointed as an Academic Editor. I was persuaded by the affordable, open access publishing, the transparency of the review process, and the emphasis on scientific rigor rather than an opinion on scientific impact in the editorial evaluation.

PJ: Many thanks for your time!

Join Bryn Dentinger and thousands of other satisfied PeerJ authors - submit PeerJ PrePrint articles at https://peerj.com/preprints and PeerJ journal articles, for formal peer review, at https://peerj.com/.