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200728000 - Columbia River Basin Journal

Sponsor: Intermountain Communications

Budgets: FY07: $105,000 | FY08: $100,000 | FY09: $100,000

Short description: The Columbia River Basin Journal will be an on-line journal devoted to the timely dissemination of current research information related to Columbia River Basin fish and wildlife mitigation and recovery.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)


This is a well-written proposal that addresses a need identified by the ISRP and the Council for a Columbia River Basin Journal (CRBJ) to enable communication, peer-review and timely publication of research results and research-related information. The CRBJ would provide an excellent venue for publishing results of Columbia Basin projects that are normally limited to agency reports or reports to funding entities. Peer-reviewed journal publication offers the potential to increase both the dissemination of research results and the quality of those results. Another benefit of this journal is that it will be open access, so it will reach a broader audience than a fee-based subscription journal. The proposal clearly describes the need for this journal. In addition to ISRP and Council recommendations, the proposal also relates the rationale for the CRBJ to enhancing the integration and scientific credibility of Columbia Basin restoration approaches and information, as identified by the Fish and Wildlife Program and by federal agencies in various forms. The proposal also makes the reasonable case that coordinated presentation of scientific information by a neutral broker will contribute to the learning process that is the basis for adaptive management. The electronic form will allow much more access by people throughout the region to scientific literature, information, and discussions. The CRBJ will complement other projects by serving as a clearinghouse for information and a communication link among projects. It will also be linked to the Columbia Basin Bulletin (CBB) through joint publishing. The connection to the CBB is a strength of this proposal, because the CBB has a proven track record in building information infrastructure in the Basin, maintaining a network of extensive contacts, and knowledge of Columbia Basin issues. However the proposal would be enhanced by a brief description of other scientific journals and environmental media in the Pacific Northwest and the extent to which they could fill the role of the proposed CRBJ. The objective for this project is to create an on-line journal devoted to the timely dissemination of current research related to Columbia River Basin fish and wildlife preservation and restoration. The metrics for this objective would be quality and quantity of papers published, readership, and citation by other scientists. Methods pertain to the four functions of the journal: peer-reviewed papers, research updates and reports, research news summaries, and moderated discussions. A thorough discussion is presented of each of these functions. The discussion covers the essential elements of each, providing a clear indication that the sponsors are aware of the key issues regarding neutrality, timeliness, and scientific integrity, and have developed procedures to address them. While acknowledging the thorough consideration of journal functions given in the proposal, the ISRP recommends that the sponsors give more thought to the review process. One issue to consider is that the timing of reviews as stated in the proposal is atypically fast. Turnaround time for reviews is typically slow because a limited number of experienced peer reviewers face an increasing number of review requests and typically conduct reviews during free time. One mechanism some journals use to shorten turnaround time is to provide an honorarium to reviewers. Volunteer reviews are slower, and simply having on-line review processes doesn’t necessarily make the peer review process faster. A second review issue is the use of a double blind peer review. The CRBJ might want to have open identity of the reviewers, or optional identity (depending on potential conflicts). This should help keep the review comments and process constructive. Evaluation of the success of the scientific part of the CRBJ could be done by a journal impact analysis, which is now a routine part of bibliographic search engines such as ISI (ex Current Contents). The proponent should consider this monitoring procedure. A final issue for the sponsors to consider is whether the budget is adequate to provide an effective product. They might discuss budget issues with Alaska Department of Fish and Game and others who have on-line journals to compare cost estimates.

State/province recommendation: MS: Do Not Fund

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: Some members felt this service could be provided by existing projects (i.e., Streamnet library), but it is currently not being provided as proposed here. There was disagreement among the MSRT on the value of this service. Journal publications are generally available on-line on various web sites; this proposal would bring access to those publications into one location.