Biology Open (BiO) is a journal for the whole of the biological and biomedical sciences community (Fig. 1). It was launched in 2012 with the aim of “reducing the pain to publish” by focusing on high-quality research without attempting to judge impact (Raff, 2012). This way, authors didn't need to tear up the existing dogma to get published. Instead, they could focus on advancing the scientific narrative, filling in important gaps and expanding our understanding of all areas of biology. A key advantage of this approach to publishing is that it enables reviewers to focus on the science without having to make a subjective assessment of the perceived importance of the findings. Although BiO was not the first journal to offer this type of service to authors, in the ten years since our launch this model has grown in popularity, with many publishers (and even funders) now offering similar publishing platforms.
Since the publication of the first issue of BiO, we have sought to evolve and improve the publication process for authors, reviewers and readers (Fig. 2). For example, BiO has been Open Access since its inception; shortly after our launch, we adopted a CC-BY license to ensure all our content was freely available to everyone around the world. We were an early adopter of two-way integration with BioRxiv and have supported and joined forces with several reviewer-focused initiatives such as Publons, Review Commons and the Preprint Reviewer Recruitment Network (PPRN) (Fig. 1). In addition, we recently announced our fast-track option for papers that have been reviewed elsewhere, and we are actively looking for other ways to reduce the pain to publish without compromising on scientific quality. Finally, we embrace the fact that science is becoming more open (it's in our name) and more international, and that authors are working more collaboratively than ever before (Kelly, 2018). BiO and The Company of Biologists (its publisher) are also strongly supportive of the use of preprints in advancing the scientific narrative. We welcome the fact that it has become almost default that researchers submit preprints of their work while it is undergoing review, if not before. We believe that this will further accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and reduce scientific inequality around the globe.
On taking over as Editor-in-Chief, I believed that there was going to be more rapid progress towards Open Access in the biological sciences. I still firmly believe that Open Access is the future of scientific publishing and that everyone with an internet connection should be able to share in the advances in science regardless of where they are published. As more and more journals convert to Open Access, however, it is noteworthy to see the disparity of the charges levied. At BiO, we charge only what it costs us to publish and ensure that we can provide access to the research in perpetuity. We monitor these charges to make sure that they align with our costs, and we have waiver policies for authors who are unable to pay. BiO is also now included in many of the Read & Publish deals offered by The Company of Biologists, providing discounted or fee-free publication for corresponding authors at participating institutions. Science should be for everyone.
One factor I didn't anticipate when I first took over as Editor-in-Chief was the emergence and then meteoric rise of ‘papermill’ papers. Over the past few years, I have spent a huge amount of time studying, often in minute detail, submissions to the journal to ensure that they are not manufactured papers produced by scientific papermills. I have written before about the steps that BiO has taken to address this issue (Hackett and Kelly, 2020). It has been hugely challenging to address this problem in a manner that follows the guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). BiO is incredibly grateful to and supportive of initiatives such as PubPeer and superstar fraud detectors such as Elisabeth Bik, who have really brought this issue to the forefront. I wrote previously of the pressing need for technological development in this area; I am happy to say that such technologies are becoming available and have been incorporated into our ethics checking processes. This is important to me, and to the Editors of BiO, as we are committed to establishing a strong sense of community and trust with our authors and readers.
Our ethos at BiO reflects that of The Company of Biologists – a not-for-profit publisher with a long history of funding a wide range of charitable activities that support the community of scientists across a broad spectrum of the biological sciences. At BiO, a major focus of our charitable activities is directed towards supporting early-career researchers. We provide funding to support meetings and conferences organised by or in support of early-career researchers. We run the Future Leaders Reviews program, which was specifically created to help early-career researchers establish an identity and demonstrate independence in their field, by enabling early-career researchers to publish senior author papers in BiO for free. We accompany these reviews with interviews with the authors and publish and promote all this content for free to help build the careers of the next generation of researchers. At BiO, we believe that publishers can do more to support the career development of early-career researchers and have lots of exciting new initiatives in the pipeline!
I am looking forward to being part of the development of scientific publishing over the next ten years. I hope that preprints and Open Access finally become universal, and that more is done to engage and support early career researchers in publishing. I believe BiO will still be pioneering initiatives to support the biological sciences community and will still be focused on finding ways to support the career development of early-career researchers. I am very privileged to be currently at the helm of BiO and I am indebted to our fantastic team of editors, and all the reviewers and Future Leaders who have contributed to the development of the journal (with particular thanks to our reviewers in 2021, who we name in our annual published list of reviewers; see supplementary material). Finally, I am eternally grateful to all of the authors who chose to support our mission by publishing in our journal. I hope you also believe in our mission and will consider BiO as the home for your next paper!
•I'm delighted to be joining in the celebrations for Biology Open's 10th birthday. Over the years, BiO has become a powerful advocate for early-career researchers. These researchers will be future leaders in the biological and biomedical sciences, so it's inspiring to see a journal amplifying their voices.
Matthew Freeman, Chair Board of Directors, The Company of Biologists
•As we mark BiO's 10th birthday, it's a good opportunity to reflect on what the journal has achieved over the past decade. BiO started with the aim of reducing the pain to publish for both authors and reviewers, and it has certainly made great strides with this. From format-free submission and a rapid review process to the recently launched fast-track option, BiO continues to streamline the publishing process, which is something that we can all celebrate.
Claire Moulton, Publisher, The Company of Biologists
•It's a pleasure to help celebrate 10 years of BiO. At Development, we've been working with our sister journal since the start. It's been inspiring seeing them grow and flourish. Accelerating the publication of rigorous, high-quality research is something we are all passionate about and BiO has made an important contribution that is appreciated by the biology community.
James Briscoe, Editor-in-Chief Development
•Biology Open is a great example of how The Company of Biologists fulfils its mission of supporting and inspiring the biological community. Alongside publishing quality research, the journal advocates for researchers, particularly those in the early stages of their careers. I hope to see BiO continue to grow over the next 10 years.
Michael Way, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Cell Science
•At Journal of Experimental Biology, we receive a number of manuscripts that are novel and scientifically sound but do not fall within the core remit of the journal (i.e. comparative physiology and biomechanics). BiO provides an excellent opportunity for these manuscripts to be peer reviewed and considered for publication. The beauty is that these manuscripts can be easily transferred across from JEB to BiO without having to go through the often laborious and lengthy task of resubmission.
Craig Franklin, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Experimental Biology
•The Company of Biologists is committed to Open Access, so it's been great to see BiO grow over the past 10 years. Fully Open Access since its inception, BiO has gone from strength to strength and has been able to use its influence to lend support to early-career researchers.
Liz Patton, Editor-in-Chief Disease Models & Mechanisms