Why a new synthetic biology journal?

Most synthetic biology papers are not published in a synthetic biology journal. They are still published in non-specialized journals that span a broad spectrum of scientific specialties from bioinformatics to molecular biology and biotechnology. It can be difficult for readers to notice synthetic biology papers among all the other papers that these journals publish. For authors, this dispersion can also be problematic as editors of well-established journals sometimes struggle to see how a synthetic biology submission fits within the scope of their journal.

The first journal dedicated to synthetic biology was IET Synthetic Biology. For some reason the journal was short-lived. It took five years after this early experiment to see the launch of a new journal dedicated to serving the needs of our community. Since 2012, ACS Synthetic Biology has been extremely successful. It now provides the community with a well-respected venue to publish synthetic biology research. Its success is also a sign that the growing synthetic biology community needs channels to disseminate its research.

Oxford University Press launches Synthetic Biology

Oxford University Press (OUP) identified the need for a new synthetic biology journal when they decided to launch Synthetic Biology. Many synthetic biology authors are familiar with OUP, the world’s largest university press. They also publish Nucleic Acids Research and Bioinformatics, two journals that have been publishing synthetic biology papers for many years. This creates opportunities. For instance, we have developed a process to streamline the transfer of manuscripts from one journal to another. If Nucleic Acids Research rejects a paper because of its perceived limited significance, they offer authors the possibility of transferring the submission and the reviews to Synthetic Biology.

The quality of OUP production process is second to none. After we accept a manuscript, the production staff formats it very quickly so that we only publish properly typeset manuscripts. Authors benefit from a rigorous proofreading and typesetting that, I think, greatly contribute to the value provided by the journal.

Prior to working with OUP, I spent several years working with PloS. I became an academic editor of PloS One in 2009 and then I was instrumental in launching the PloS Synthetic Biology Collection. The editorial policies for Synthetic Biology are partly inspired by PloS ONE editorial policies. In particular, the significance of a submission is not considered when making editorial decisions. We are not chasing the Impact Factor. I think the editor’s role is to ensure that the results that are published are scientifically sound. It is for the readers to decide which papers are important by sharing them with their community and citing them over the years.

Collaborate with Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology is a community resource. We will all benefit from having a choice of journals to publish our work. You can collaborate with the journal in two ways.

Submit your work to Synthetic Biology

I encourage you to have a look at the instructions to authors. You will notice that in addition to research papers, we accept other types of manuscripts including reviews, papers describing educational resources, and others. You will also notice that Synthetic Biology is completely Open Access. OUP is waiving the publication charges for manuscripts accepted in 2017. There is still time to send us your work. We can complete the peer-review process by the end of the year to allow you to benefit from this great deal.

We are also accepting papers for inclusion in a special issue on cell-free expression systems. This issue is edited by Vincent Noireaux and Warren Ruder.

 Increase the impact of Synthetic Biology

We have published five articles so far. With the help of Altmetric technical support, I have developed two pages listing these articles along with their Altmetric scores:

You could help us increase the visibility of these articles by reading them and sharing on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media you. It would also be great to have them cited on Wikipedia pages. And even though we are not chasing the impact factor, we certainly hope that you will cite them in your future publications.