Nicolas LIMARE / pro / notes / 2012 / Re: What about the Insight Journal, folks?

Following backlinks from the IPOL visits, I found an interesting post about the Insight Journal, where the author wonders why Insight is not more visible in circles discussing Open Science, Reproducible Research, Software publications etc.

I tried to give my 2¢ in the comments, but for some reason I can't have this comment published. Too long, with links, or there is something I missed in Disqus UI? Anyway, after two trials I put my answer hereafter.

  • 2012-12-08: small editions, fix typo errors and add links

I am one of the creators of IPOL, so here are my (informed and/or biased) ideas on why Insight is not as visible as it should be.

I think Insight Journal is not very visible as a journal because it's not really a journal. This is not a critic of the interest of Insight and of the works gathered there (and Insight was an inspiration for IPOL), but as there is no definition of what a scholarly journal is, the only an answer is that something is a journal if it is "recognized as a journal by other journals and by researchers". And by some aspects Insight doesn't provide what is expected from every other journal.

The form, first. Being online only is 100% OK, but the Insight website doesn't look like other major journal websites. The content of the journal (articles) is mixed with the publishing interface, we browse journals, articles, videos and users in the same place. Some articles don't provide a PDF document, and when there is one it is available from the side menu of the article page. But the PDF file should always be there, and should be the first thing people read for every article, because in every researcher's mind a research article is a PDF file, and when a work is distributed by other means it is less likely to be mentioned in the references section of later works. We switched from HTML to PDF in IPOL when we realized that web pages were not taken seriously. So, the main document for Insight articles should be a PDF file (can be saved, shared, printed, and many bibliographic databases only consider PDF documents), and it should look like an article from any other journal. On the first page, the logo and name of the journal (!!!!) are missing, and there should also be the citation string (Chicago-style, with authors, title, journal, issue, date, URL) And software version number should be removed from the titles, it looks like a software documentation.

Then, Insight is not properly indexed. I can't find the proper metadata (citation_xxx and DublinCore fields) in the Insight article pages, and even their BibTeX doesn't provide a "journal" field. I see no ISSN for Insight, and without this number (free) you're not a journal for publishing institutions and libraries. Google Scholar only knows 240 papers from "Insight Journal", including some from another journal with the same name, but on buddhist studies!!! And Google probably learned about these papers form references in other articles, because I can't find Insight in other journal lists and bibliographic databases, even the open ones like DOAJ (too bad when Insight insists on the Open Access policy), DBLP, VisionBib (would be perfectly on-topic) or Scirus. It seems that there has not been much effort to have Insight recognized as a real journal by peers.

Another problem is the lack of visible editorial structure. A scholarly journal is not an open repository of papers and codes (ArXiV and others do that), it should come from an editorial project, clearly stated on the journal website (more than the 5 lines at the top of the Insight homepage), and a publicly identified editorial board with qualified members responsible for the development and steering of the project and the definition of which material should be published. The open review model used by Insight is interesting, but it should not be qualified as a "review". It looks more like an open feedback system. To be qualified as a review, every material published in Insight should be reviewed and approved by the board after review, with qualified reviewers following instructions on what must be examined, and how. Without editorial management, reviews and selection of the articles, it's hard to qualify it as a scholarly journal, and actually it is similar to the MatlabCentral File Exchange, with more test automation.

Finally, Insight is produced by Kitware and focuses on Kitware libraries, and this may be the cause of conflicts of interest. This proximity, with the lack of classic journal management, make it difficult to decide where Insight is between the innovative scholarly journal on image software, the vehicle to promote Kitware libraries, and the venue where VTK users and developers can exchange their works and get some credit for it.