Microbial Genomics: a new journal you’d definitely invite to your next party

Hello! I’m Jenn Gardy, a new MicroBEnet contributor! I hold a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Genomics at UBC, and work out of the BC Centre Disease Control, using genomics as a tool to reconstruct and understand infectious disease outbreaks. I also enjoy cat butt genomics. Today I’m writing with a different hat on, though – as part of the editorial team of the new open data, open access journal Microbial Genomics.

For several years, I’ve managed to hide from journal editorial duty. I knew joining an editorial board was something I’d have to do eventually, but all the journals that came calling were just so… uninspiring. I’m not a typical scientist — I work at a weird, creative intersection of microbes, genomics, public health, and information visualization with a delightful layer of science communication and documentary TV on top of that — and I just couldn’t see myself fitting in at a traditional journal with their stuffy paywalls, ugly PDF supplementary data, and lack of personality.

Then Microbial Genomics (MGen, to friends) came calling.

MGen is a new journal launched in July, 2015 by The Society for General Microbiology — the UK’s equivalent of an organization like the American Society for Microbiology (but with a better selection of tea and biscuits!) I joined the team in 2014 as Senior Editor responsible for the Microbial Evolution and Epidemiology section, and my fellow editors oversee five other sections covering everything from microbial communities to bioinformatics to systems-level omics approaches. In working with the team on the journal scoping and launch, I’ve come to see MGen as the journal equivalent of that fun person you want to invite to your all your parties.

Why? Top tip #1 for being a good partygoer is be open and friendly. MGen is open access (with no page charges for accepted articles in our first year!), and is published by a not-for-profit publisher. On top of that, you’ve also got an editorial board of genuinely nice people doing awesome research, most of whom are easy to reach via Twitter — meet us and find our Twitter handles here. (And while I’m on the subject of the editorial board, as an advocate for women in STEM I’m proud to say our board is nearly 50% female! We also practice taxonomic diversity, with experts from the bacterial, viral, and fungal worlds, and have a nice mix of early-career and established investigators).

Top tip #2? A good partygoer shares their goodies. Ever read through a paper and wanted to reproduce their work, then get the massive letdown of no accession numbers and phrases like “data were processed with an in-house script”? Never again! MGen has a mandatory open data policy – authors are required to archive any supporting data, protocols, software and/or programmes that have led to the conclusions drawn in the paper, and these are peer-reviewed alongside the paper. We also don’t sit on papers — as a fully online journal, accepted papers go online in preliminary form within three working days, and appear in their final form within four weeks. But wait, there’s more! We are also totally cool with pre-prints — indeed, many of our editorial board are keen biorxiv.org users.

We’re also fun. We’ve partnered with Figshare, an online digital repository where you can share your research outputs in unique ways. Sure, you can upload figures, and tables, and various interesting file types like 3D protein structures or software code, but you can also do things like upload a video or an animated GIF, and have them directly linked from your article. Wearing my science communicator hat, this is one of the things about MGen that I’m most excited about — we have the chance to really change how we as researchers tell our scientific stories to each other.

We’d love to have you join the party! If you’re a microbial genomics researcher who’s passionate about open access and open data, and who wants to be the change you want to see in the publishing world, please consider MGen as a home for your next paper. We take original research articles up to 6,000 words, reviews, methods papers, and we accept short reports of 500-2000 works on things like genomic outbreak investigations, reports of new resources, or rapid communications around very topical matters. Find out more here, submit an article here, or tweet at me – @jennifergardy.

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Jennifer Gardy

Jennifer Gardy is an Assistant Professor at UBC's School of Population and Public Health, a cat enthusiast, and she also regular plays a scientist on TV. Find her on Twitter as @jennifergardy.