Monday, May 30, 2011

Oikos Blog, and an update on CFN website progress

Looks like we've got company (and that's a good thing).  Another ecological journal has a blog: Oikos Blog, which I've just added to our blogroll (on the right side of your screen).  It is run by University of Calgary evolutionary ecologist Dr. Jeremy Fox.  I've just spent the past hour reading its posts and I'm very impressed for two reasons:

1. High quality of content.  Oikos is an excellent journal famous for publishing bold papers.  Most journals' editors shy away from publishing radical ideas that might lead people to question their sanity, but Oikos' editors seem justifiably proud of their craziness.  Their editors all look like the gentleman below (Oikos is published by the Nordic Oikos Society, hence the obligatory viking headgear they are forced to wear, just like Canadian Field-Naturalist editors have a strict Canadian dress code).  The Oikos blog, like the journal, raises cutting-edge ideas intelligently and provocatively.

2. Informal style.  I hate when a blog is bland.  There are plenty of organizations' blogs that are self-congratulatory, formal, and about as interesting as a bunch of press releases stuck together.  The Oikos blog is an enjoyable read, and Dr. Fox's self-deprecating humour is refreshing.  Personally, I skim a few blogs daily while a eat my lunch, and Oikos' blog will be on that list now.

As you may have noticed, I haven't written much in this blog lately.  A big reason for that is the new Canadian Field-Naturalist journal website isn't finished yet, and I'm reluctant to link to it until it's ready to go live to the millions of natural history-maniacs across Canada and around the world.  You only have one chance to make a first impression, so I'm keeping the new journal address a semi-secret until I have it well-polished.  So I can't post about some of the cool articles coming out in recent issues because it would be mean of me to talk about research you can't read for yourself.  And nobody likes a meany.

How is the new journal website coming, you ask (yup - I can read your thoughts)?  All content is on the site, and the search function is working fantastically.  But two things are not yet ready: PayPal for subscriptions, and editorial management for authors submitting manuscripts.  PayPal won't be ready for another couple of months at least (it's a lower priority - worst case scenario is subscribers will have to pay by cheque for another year), but the manuscript management portal is coming along nicely.  I will upgrade the website to the newest version of Open Journal Systems software that's coming out, which promises to have new features that should improve front-end features for readers and back-end features for journal management.  Once that is installed (and re-installed after I inevitably screw up the first installation), the site should be ready to be announced.  I'll open a luxurious bottle of Baby Duck sparkling wine to celebrate at that time.  Between now and then I'll be transferring paper-based subscription records into computer format (where is a team of trained monkeys when you need them), uploading new issues as they are published (volume 124 issue #2 is being printed right now), and otherwise trying to keep on top of things ... and hopefully finishing my PhD too.  What could go wrong?  :)

PS: I've also added another new blog to our blogroll: Natural History in Suburbia.  My friend and fellow insect-loving grad student Chris Borkent is its author.  Chris says it will mostly be about natural history in the Montreal area where he lives.  I hope it will feature insects prominently, but the first few posts feature flowers (gross).

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