2014 is only a few weeks old, but it has already kicked off to a great start at JEB with the publication of our special issue on ‘Stress: challenging homeostasis’ in Issue 1 (jeb.biologists.org/content/217/1.toc). Not only is this collection of Review articles freely available without subscription on the JEB website, but our newly launched Company of Biologists YouTube channel features a short movie about the 2013 JEB Symposium in Switzerland, where the topics of all of the Review articles featured in the issue were originally presented and discussed (www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLVJvJhMlSI). The movie provides a background to both the symposium and the journal issue, including interviews with some of the speakers/authors and organisers of the meeting and explaining the rationale behind the inclusion of many of the topics in this themed issue.
The YouTube channel itself (www.youtube.com/companyofbiologists) was set up a few months ago and features content from each of the five journals published by The Company of Biologists: The Journal of Experimental Biology, Development, Journal of Cell Science, Disease Models & Mechanisms and Biology Open. In addition to movies relating to The Company and its charitable activities and workshops (see below), each journal has its own playlist, showcasing movies associated with individual journal articles. Each movie is linked back to the original article on the journal website, providing an effective way to promote the research within the scientific community and further afield. So far, most of the JEB movies featured in our playlist have been submitted as supplementary material to the journal article, but we welcome additional movies and video abstracts related to any JEB article – just get in touch if you have a movie you would like us to consider.
You may also have noticed that JEB articles look a little different in 2014. With a portfolio of five journals (the most recent – Biology Open – was launched in 2012), The Company of Biologists has decided to standardise the look and format of all its journals, combining features from the existing article designs and coming up with a more contemporary style that aims to make the article more accessible and improve readability online. For example, in the Inside JEB section, we have included captions to explain and credit the images, and aimed to provide a cleaner, more modern and less cluttered feel that befits the magazine style of this section. Both Outside JEB and Classics have had a similar makeover.
The most noticeable difference in the new design format is in the ‘research’ content of the journal and relates to the position of sections within the article; for example, the List of Symbols and Abbreviations is now provided in a highlighted box near the beginning of the article, while the Materials and Methods section has moved to the end of the article, after the Results and Discussion sections. We would like to stress that the latter change is not intended to devalue the ‘methods’ in any way. As a journal focusing on experimental biology, we perceive the methodological detail to be an indispensable and important part of the paper, providing the crucial information that allows one to judge the validity of the results of a study. In an online world, readers access articles in a different way to traditional print subscribers, and therefore the position of a section within the article becomes less important; wherever they are in the full-text article, readers can just click on a link to the section and go there immediately.
Using a ‘single’ article template across all five Company journals has also allowed us to streamline some of the production processes associated with publishing the journals. The Company is a registered charity and, as such, the income generated from the journals is reinvested back into the scientific community in the form of supporting scientific societies (such as the Society for Experimental Biology), sponsoring workshops and scientific meetings (including the annual JEB Symposium) and providing a comprehensive Travelling Fellowship programme (see www.biologists.com); thus, it is in everyone's interest that The Company remains profitable and can continue to provide support to the community of scientists that its journals serve.
We appreciate that this change in the position of the Materials and Methods may not be welcomed by all members of the community; indeed, in a survey of the JEB Editorial Board, opinions were very mixed, with a third of members positively encouraging the change, a third opposing the change, and a third with no strong opinion. Given such diverse views, we are clearly unable to please everyone, but what is ultimately important is that the journal continues to provide a high-quality platform for comparative research, which relies on the painstaking work of our authors and thorough scrutiny by our reviewers.
Looking forward to 2014 and beyond, we have a few delights on offer in addition to the usual journal content. For example, following his retirement from McMaster University, Canada, colleagues of Chris Wood will be paying a tribute to his research career by publishing a collection of papers on ionic and acid–base regulation, feeding and nitrogen handling, and gas exchange, exercise and metabolism.
The 2014 JEB Symposium will be held in Banff, Canada, in March. With an overall theme of ‘epigenetics in comparative physiology’, invited speakers will be looking at basic epigenetic mechanisms and their impact on the hierarchy of gene regulatory events and discussing the short-term, long-term and transgenerational impact on phenotypic traits of individuals and populations in a comparative context. The Review articles generated from this meeting will be published in the journal in 2015.
And, as always, Editors and staff at JEB will continue to balance Research Articles, Reviews, Methods & Techniques, Short Communications and Commentaries covering the breadth of research in comparative biology. We aim to keep you abreast of the developments in the many fields that we cover and to report on the exciting discoveries being made by research groups across the globe, at the same time actively working with media organisations and journalists to share this knowledge with both the scientific community and the general public.