Plant Sociology renewed: Does an open access society journal about vegetation still make sense in 2020?

In a new editorial, Plant Sociology’s Editor-in-Chief Daniela Gigante and Co-editors Gianni Bacchetta, Simonetta Bagella and Daniele Viciani reflect on the current position and outlook of the official journal of the Italian Society of Vegetation Science (Società Italiana di Scienza della Vegetazione or SISV), now that it has completed its first issue since transitioning to the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft and ARPHA Platform earlier this year.

Homepage of the new website of Plant Sociology
(visit: https://plantsociology.arphahub.com/)

The Editorial board briefly analyses the issues around the inaccessibility to scholarly research and suitable scholarly outlets still persisting in our days that impede both readers and authors across branches of science. Naturally, they go on to focus on the situation in vegetation science, where, unfortunately, there are rather few outlets open to original research related to any aspect within vegetation science.

By telling their own experience, but also citing the stories of other similarly positioned society journals, including other journals that have moved to Pensoft’s self-developed ARPHA Platform over the past several years (e.g. Journal of Hymenoptera Research, European Science Editing, Italian Botanist, Vegetation Classification and Survey, Nota Lepidopterologica), the editors present an example how to address the challenges of securing the long-term sustainability and quality for a journal used to being run by a small editorial staff in what they refer to as a “home made” method.

Other society journals that have moved to Pensoft’s self-developed ARPHA Platform over the past several years

In this process, the SISV supported its official scholarly outlet to be published as a “gold open access” journal and ensured that the APCs are kept to a reasonable low in line with its non-profit international business model. Further discounts are available for the members of the Society.

Then, the journal management also reorganised its Editorial Board and welcomed a dedicated Social media team responsible for the increased outreach of published research in the public domain through the channels of Twitter and Facebook

Besides making the publications publicly available as soon as they see the light of day, the journal strongly supports other good open science practices, such as open data dissemination. In Plant Sociology, authors are urged to store their vegetation data in the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD). Additionally, the journal is integrated with the Dryad Digital Repository to make it easier for authors to publish, share and, hence, have their data re-used and cited.

The team behind Plant Sociology is perfectly aware of the fact that it is only through easy to find and access knowledge about life on Earth that the right information can reach the right decision-makers, before making the right steps towards mitigating and preventing future environmental catastrophes.

Access the article from: https://doi.org/10.3897/pls2020571/05

“A journal focusing on all aspects of natural, semi-natural and anthropic plant systems, from basic investigation to their modelisation, assessment, mapping, management, conservation and monitoring, is certainly a precious tool to detect environmental unbalances, understand processes and outline predictive scenarios that support decision makers. In this sense, we believe that more and more OA journals focused on biodiversity should find space in the academic editorial world, because only through deep knowledge of processes and functions of a complex planet, humankind can find a way to survive healthy,”

elaborate the editors.

To take the burden of technical journal management off the shoulders of Plant Sociology’s own editorial team, the journal has entrusted Pensoft to provide a user-friendly and advanced submission system, in addition to the production, online publishing and archiving of the accepted manuscripts. Thus, the editorial team is able to focus entirely on the scientific quality of the journal’s content.

“The renewal of Plant Sociology is a challenge that we have undertaken with conviction, aware of the difficulties and pitfalls that characterize the life of a scientific journal today. Entrusting the technical management of the journal to a professional company aims to improve its dissemination and attractiveness, but also to focus our efforts only on scientific content,”

explain the editors.

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About Plant Sociology:

Plant Sociology publishes articles dealing with all aspects of vegetation, from plant community to landscape level, including dynamic processes and community ecology. It favours papers focusing on plant sociology and vegetation survey for developing ecological models, vegetation interpretation, classification and mapping, environmental quality assessment, plant biodiversity management and conservation, EU Annex I habitats interpretation and monitoring, on the ground of rigorous and quantitative measures of physical and biological components. The journal is open to territorial studies at different geographic scale and accepts contributes dealing with applied research, provided they offer new methodological perspectives and a robust, updated vegetation analysis.

Find all pre-2020 issues and articles of Plant Sociology openly available on the former website.

Follow Plant Sociology on Twitter and Facebook.

As transparent as it gets! Five pricing plans & operating models from ARPHA available to OA academic journals

One size to fit them all? At ARPHA, we are well aware that it does not work like that in academia, let alone when it comes to accommodating individual scholarly journals from across the tremendously varied publishing landscape. 

This is why we have prepared five options to account for the specific aims and needs of ARPHA’s potential clients, while bearing in mind their resources and sustainability. 

In the spirit of transparency and openness, along with a comprehensive list of services that clarifies how each plan compares with the rest, we have provided the associated pricing ranges, where the total expenditure is easy to calculate, as it is based solely on the volume of published content. To support emerging publishers and prolific institutions, and express gratitude for their trust, we offer discounts for multiple journals joining ARPHA’s community.

Visit our website to see what services our LITE, BASIC, STANDARD, ADVANCED and PREMIUM plans provide and how much each of them would cost for your individual case.  

While Open Science initiatives, including OA2020 and Plan S, have clearly become the major talking points, academic institutions, societies and small-to-medium publishers from around the world are increasingly looking to chip in the growing community and make their own stand for science becoming truly efficient, responsible and inclusive by ensuring openness, transparency and FAIRness. But how do they do that when capped budgets, scarce human resources and lack of know-how in specific areas come into play? 

While one may be struggling with bringing together the right in-house expertise, another might be unable to keep track of the ‘top wanted’ integrations and services required for any state-of-the-art publication venue, and yet another might be encountering difficulties in communicating their otherwise ground-breaking published research to the public. In our experience, all of them are most likely experiencing difficulties with either the development of an advanced and user-friendly technological backbone or covering the associated costs.


ARPHA provides a highly automated, end-to-end publishing platform to ALL clients by default, which ensures that the research in their journals is just as easy to prepare and publish as it is to discover, access and reuse later on.

Here are the good news! ALL journals published on ARPHA Platform take advantage of our signature high-tech and easy-to-operate full-featured platform by default. What we mean, is that any journal benefits from an end-to-end, entirely online publishing solution, which takes care of the manuscripts all the way from submission and peer review to editing, publication, dissemination, indexing and archiving (see “The 5 Most Distinct Features of ARPHA), while the annual maintenance could easily cost as little as a few thousands euros.

ARPHA stands for much more than a publishing platform.
It also comprises an extensive collection of services brought together in order to attend next-to-all demands associated with scholarly publishing.

On top of ARPHA’s user- and collaboration-friendly platform that allows for authors, reviewers and editors to easily and conveniently manage and track the progress of manuscripts, thereby ensuring that no technological pitfalls stand in the way to rapid and efficient distribution of scientific knowledge, our platform is continuously expanding its suite of services and features. This is also where one can find the major differences between the five plans offered by ARPHA.

With so many services and functionalities at hand, it was not that difficult for us to come up with five thought-through alternatives, and still ensure that ALL clients of ARPHA have their journals’ content published in a Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable manner.

As you can notice, even the lowest-priced LITE Plan features a plenty of useful and advanced perks, including a one-stop API end-point for distribution to 30+ international databases, metadata export to 12+ machine-readable formats, article sharing and usage statistics tools.

Assignment of DOIs to individual images is one of the perks exclusive in ARPHA’s PREMIUM plan (see pictured, available in Alpine Entomology). 


At the other end of the spectrum, ARPHA’s PREMIUM Plan adds top-notch features, such as assignment of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to individual images, which in turn allows for the delivery of real-time usage metrics for each one of those.

Extensive marketing and promotional support, including an unlimited dissemination of press releases via the major global science news release platform Eurekalert! (AAAS), is also available to PREMIUM clients. Thus, a journal’s authors will not have to worry about their groundbreaking discoveries failing to reach the global public (e.g. news story “Scientists discover new Chinese firefly species” on SKY News, covering one of the latest publications in ZooKeys journal, and the associated press release on Eurekalert!).

News story via SKY News.

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Curious about how ARPHA could accommodate your journal(s)? 

Scroll down our pricing plans and operating models, and fill out the Get a Quote form. Shortly, we will be back in touch to discuss the best options for ARPHA to fit the specificity of your publishing project.

Field research in Turkmenistan’s highest mountain reveals high biological diversity

New open-access book presents a comprehensive report on the remarkable ecosystems of the Koytendag nature reserve

Location of Koytendag
Image by Atamyrat Veyisov

Situated in the extreme south-east of Turkmenistan: on the border with Uzbekistan and close to the border with Afghanistan, Koytendag presents one of the most distinct landscapes in Central Asia. Reaching elevations of up to 3,137 m, this is also the highest mountain in Turkmenistan.

Koytendag State Nature Reserve and its three Wildlife Sanctuaries: Hojapil, Garlyk and Hojaburjybelent, were established between 1986 and 1990 to protect and preserve the mountain ecosystem of the Koytendag region and maintain the ecological balance between the environment and increasing economic activities.

Since 2013, a series of scientific expeditions and assessments were coordinated and funded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to pave the way for the protection and preservation of the unique landscape and rare wildlife the site is recognised for.

As a result, the efforts of the conducted field studies of multidisciplinary international research teams are brought together in a comprehensive report, which is now openly available as an Advanced Book from the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft, edited by Geoff Welch (RSPB) and Prof. Pavel Stoev (National National Museum of Natural History of Bulgaria and Pensoft). Soon, the book will also be available in Russian.

The book is split into eight sections focused on different areas within the study of biodiversity: Flora, Surface dwelling invertebrates, Cave fauna, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. An additional chapter is dedicated to the hydrogeology of the site because of its key role in supporting both the cave fauna and the local communities.

Entrance to the newly discovered record-breaking underground lake at the Koytendag State Nature Reserve
Photo by Mikhail Pereladov

In the summary of the report, the authors make a list of the most significant findings made during the research. These include the discovery of a cave hosting the largest underground lake in the whole North Eurasia (4,400 m2) and a total of 48 species of higher plants that can only be found in Koytendag. In terms of Koytendag’s surface-dwelling fauna, the report lists a number of species new to science: a scorpion (most likely yet unnamed species currently recognised as a species complex) and a spider. Meanwhile, a total of seven previously unknown species were found underground, including the very first exclusively subterranean animal found in the country: the insect-like ‘marvellous’ dipluran named Turkmenocampa mirabilis, and a strongly adapted to the underground waters of a desert sinkhole Gammarus troglomorphus. Additionally, the annual monitoring, conducted since 1995 by the reserve staff, report an encouraging increase in the populations of the rare markhors and mouflons. An intact predator-prey community was also identified as a result of observations of numerous Eurasian lynxes and grey wolves, as well as prey species.

Entrance of the cave Kaptarhana, (Lebap Province, Eastern Turkmenistan), where scientists discovered the first ever exclusively subterranean dweller for the country in 2017 (find more here).
Photo by Aleksandr Degtyarev

Stephanie Ward, RSPB Central Asia Partner Development Officer, says:

“RSPB has been working in Turkmenistan under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government since 2004. In that time we have had the privilege of working with a team of talented and dedicated national experts across the diverse and inspiring nature of this fascinating country. Our work in Koytendag has captured the attention and interest of many international scientists who hope that their contemporary biodiversity research will help to deepen the understanding and therefore ensure protection of the unique wonders of this mountain ecosystem. As a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will continue to collaborate with the Turkmen people on the research and promotion of Koytendag State Nature Reserve.

Book editor and member of the research team Prof. Pavel Stoev adds:

“Koytendag Mountain is among the least explored and, simultaneously, one of the most biologically diverse regions in Central Asia. The rapid assessments of its flora and fauna revealed a high number of highly specialised species, all of which have undergone a long evolution to adapt to the harsh environments of the mountain. The establishment of Koytendag State Nature Reserve and the associated wildlife sanctuaries is a step in the right direction for the protection of this unique biota.”

The report, published in an openly accessible Advanced Book format, is available from
https://doi.org/10.3897/ab.e37858.

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Original source:

Welch G, Stoev P (2019) A report of RSPB-supported scientific research at Koytendag State Nature Reserve, East Turkmenistan. Advanced Books. https://doi.org/10.3897/ab.e37858

Additional information:

This work was carried out under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan and the RSPB, within the Project on “Improvement of the status of birds and other biodiversity in Turkmenistan”.

About Koytendag State Nature Reserve:

Koytendag State Nature Reserve was established in 1986 to protect and preserve the mountain ecosystem of the Koytendag region and maintain the ecological balance between the environment and the increasing anthropogenic activities. Of particular importance was the protection of rare species, such as the markhor; important habitats, including pistachio and juniper forests; and the impressive dinosaur trackways at Hojapil.

Advanced Books publishing by Pensoft:

Launched by Pensoft and powered by the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA, the Advanced Books approach aims to issue new books or re-issue books previously only available in print or PDF. In the Advanced Books format, the publications are semantically enhanced and available in HTML and XML as well, in order to accelerate open access, data publication, mining, sharing and reuse. The Advanced books builds on the novel approaches developed by the Pensoft’s journals.