The Worm Breeder’s Gazette was an early model of open access publishing. Today, it returns.
The C. elegans research community has a long tradition of open access.
This spirit led the community to adopt early a standard nomenclature for genes, alleles, proteins, strains, and mutant phenotypes. Standardization made it vastly easier to discuss biological concepts and to share reagents. As the community grew, a stock center was established which thrives to this day. As the genome was cloned as proof-of-concept for sequencing a large genome, cosmids were available with just a quick email.
But it wasn’t just shared nomenclature that bound the community together. The annual C. elegans meeting was a single session. It was believed that in order to understand the corner you were trying to tease apart that you needed to understand the entire organism. To this day, presentations often include raw and unpublished data. Posters are rarely limited to just what’s in the publishing pipeline.
The C. elegans community also pioneered electronic collection, curation, and dissemination of data, through the standalone genomic database AceDB, gopher, BBSs, early websites, and in 2000, with the launch of the comprehensive curated online repository WormBase.
In general, people in the worm field are psyched to share what they know regardless of its publication status.
This is particularly evident from The Worm Breeder’s Gazette. The WBG began as a printed newsletter in December 1975 as an ad-hoc collection of preliminary results, methods, and sometimes pure speculation. Each abstract was limited to one page in length, mimeographed and assembled into a printed booklet complete with a cover depicting worms in various absurd endeavors. No editors. No peer review. Freely available (well, nearly so).
The Gazette continued in printed form until May of 2003. It provided many young researchers a chance to hone their writing skills and to report preliminary data. And it was a model for the Open Access revolution now taking place.
Some of these things have changed as the community has grown larger. But today I’m happy to announce the return of The Worm Breeder’s Gazette. We’re following the casual format of before, with short abstracts limited to a printed page in length. Abstracts are cross-linked to WormBase for genes, variations, and proteins, as well as to external resources when appropriate. To retain the feel of a newsletter, we’ll be publishing the Gazette twice a year.