Interview With PeerJ Editor Jonathan Eisen

This week’s ‘Interview with an Editor’ is with Jonathan Eisen. Jonathan is a Professor at the University of California, Davis as well as an Adjunct Scientist at the DOE Joint Genome Institute. He is the Recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Science (2011),  Chair of the Advisory Board for PLOS Biology, and an elected Member of the American Academy of Microbiology. We caught up with him via email.


PJ: What do you see as wrong with the current system of publication?

JE: Well, where to begin. First, my biggest problem is that people think that the system is somehow magically optimal just because it is there. The only way to know if the system is optimal is to test other systems and thus I believe that experimenting with alternative publishing systems is critical.

A second issue for me is the disconnect between the goals of much of science and scientific research and the publishing system as it exists. The goal of much of scientific research is to make discoveries and spread knowledge, and to have this happen as rapidly as possible. Right now we have so many unnecessary delays and unnecessary road blocks to access that we need to develop new approaches.

PJ: Given your experience, what would an ideal publishing venue look like? And what are your thoughts about the value of Open Access publishing?

JE: We need to do more experiments. As to Open Access – it is the only reasonable thing to do given the importance of spreading knowledge and the relative ease at which it came be done.

PJ: What excited you about PeerJ that persuaded you to become an AE?

JE: It is a very different model for paying for open access and also has some different models for carrying out the workflow in publishing / reviewing  articles and thus a worthy experiment.

PJ: Which aspects of the PeerJ functionality do you find the most interesting. And why do you feel that researchers should submit to PeerJ?

JE: The payment model is the most interesting. As to your final question, I believe that it is critical that (1) research be open access and (2) that we should support alternative models and experiments in how to go about paying for open access.

PJ: Many thanks for your time!

Be sure to follow Jonathan on twitter and check out his Tree of Life blog. PeerJ is now open for your submissions at

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