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First Peer-Reviewed Academic Bitcoin Journal, Ledger, Launches and Issues Call for Papers

Op-ed - First Peer-Reviewed Academic Bitcoin Journal

Ledger, a new peer-reviewed scholarly journal, will publish full-length original research articles on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, as well as any relevant intersections with mathematics, computer science, engineering, law and economics. Ledger will be published online on a quarterly basis by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, as an open-access journal.

“The journal Ledger invites authors to submit their original research for the inaugural issue of the very first peer-reviewed academic publication devoted solely to the field of cryptocurrencies and its related subtopics,” says the first LedgerCall for Papers. “Ledger is the first peer-reviewed journal devoted to the inherently interdisciplinary subject of cryptocurrencies, and is proud to be supported by its distinguished editorial board.”

The Ledger editorial board includes representatives from MIT, Stanford University, Duke University, Cornell University, Oxford University, and New York Law School, as well as Jerry Brito, executive director of advocacy group Coin Center, and Vitalik Buterin, founder and lead developer of the “Bitcoin 2.0” platform Ethereum.

“I’m happy to say I’ll be serving on the editorial board of this new journal along with a distinguished group of academics and experts,” said Brito on the Coin Center blog. “The quarterly publication will have regular calls for papers and will be published in an open access format with transparent peer-review.”

The transparent peer review process will include the publication of peer-review transcripts with all the correspondence relevant to the processing of the manuscript, including referee reports, author responses and editor comments.Ledger wants to put in place a relatively agile peer-review process, with the first round of reviews complete and returned to the author within six weeks. Papers that require only trivial changes could then move from submission to acceptance within a six-week period.

Ledger welcomes papers of up to 4,000 words detailing new ideas and perspectives on any relevant topic, including, but not limited to, the technical, social, economic and philosophical developments and implications of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, public and decentralized ledgers, distributed consensus and more. The deadline for submissions for the inaugural issue is December 31, 2015, and the journal will consider submissions after that date for subsequent issues on an ongoing basis.

Motherboardreports that the idea of Ledger was born during a discussion between managing editors Dr. Peter R. Rizun and professor Christopher E. Wilmer on the Bitcoin forum bitcointalk.

“I wanted to build an academic and interdisciplinary communication channel that would allow bright minds in economics, sociology, physics, law and political science to contribute at the highest-level towards the evolution of Bitcoin,” said Rizun.

“I’m glad to see Ledger launch,” said Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen, “and am looking forward to absorbing the great research that will be published there.”

Ledger will encourage authors to digitally sign their manuscripts, and timestamp the published manuscripts in the blockchain. In a concession to the early underground spirit of Bitcoin, the journal may permit authors to publish under a pseudonym “under extenuating circumstances.” It isn’t clear whether “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” the original Bitcoin whitepaper by the probably pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, would be accepted for publication onLedger.

In fact, so far all technical contributions and whitepapers on important innovations in the digital currency space, including Ethereum, sidechains, and lightning networks, have been crowd-published outside of the scholarly journal publishing framework. Therefore, it might be argued that Ledger represents a step back to a more centralized and formal, less spontaneous and ultimately less efficient form of research.

However, only publications in formally established and peer-reviewed journals are recognized as valid scientific credentials, so Ledger is likely to stimulate academic researchers to contribute to digital currency innovations. Ledger has adopted the modern trends in scientific publishing – online publishing, open access, no author fees, and agile transparent peer-review – and might become a bridge between research hackers and the scientific establishment.

Photo the.Firebottle / Flickr (CC)