More about Octopus

Scientific knowledge should not be locked behind paywalls, or only available to those who can read and write in English.

Scientific ideas and findings should be shared as quickly as possible.

Scientific work should be judged on its merits, and not on how good a "story" it tells: and so should scientific researchers.

These principles underlie the design of Octopus: a new way to share scientific work that recognises and rewards good practice, and serves the needs of both scientists and science itself.

What makes Octopus different?

In Octopus you publish work in units smaller than a "paper".

You can write and share one of 8 kinds of publication (though we support custom types for different fields and research types):

  • Problem – a neatly defined scientific problem
  • Hypothesis/Theoretical Rationale – an original hypothesis relating to an existing published Problem or the rationale for how you think the Problem could be addressed
  • Method/Protocol – a practical method of testing an existing published Hypothesis
  • Data/Results – raw data or summarised results collected according to an existing published Method (can be linked to a data repository)
  • Analysis – a statistical or thematic analysis of existing published Data or Results
  • Interpretation – a discussion around an existing published Analysis
  • Translation/Application – "real world" applications arising from an existing published Interpretation
  • Review – a considered, detailed review of any of the above kinds of publication

Every publication in Octopus must be linked to another existing publication in order to form ordered chains. Only Problems and Reviews can be linked to any of the first publication types – others must be linked only to a type directly above them in the "chain":

Graph of the connections between publication stages

Anyone can read anything on Octopus. Those logged in with an ORCiD can write and rate publications.

Every publication you write (including reviews) can be rated by others, and these will add to your individual page which is available for all individuals, institutions and funding bodies to see. Publishing quickly and well, and good collaborative reviewing is therefore rewarded.

Any publication can be "red flagged" if a reader has serious concerns. This will be visible to other readers and will alert the authors to allow them to resolve any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I want to publish in Octopus?

Octopus is designed to replace journals and papers as the primary research record. The traditional system is not only slow and expensive, but the concept of "papers" is not a good way of disseminating scientific work in the 21st century. By forcing people to share their work only when they get to the end of what can be a very long research process, it slows down the spread of scientific knowledge, and encourages "questionable research practices" in order for researchers to produce seemingly easy, clear narratives that will get their work widely read. Good science isn't necessarily a good story. Good science can be the careful collection of a small amount of data, or careful analysis of data collected by someone else, or a good hypothesis (regardless of whether data later supports it or not).

Publishing in Octopus is free, fast, and meritocratic. Why hold on to a hypothesis? Publish it now and establish priority – once it"s out in Octopus it"s yours. Why hold onto your data? Publish that now and regardless of what analyses are done by you or others later, the credit for that data is yours.

Just like work put on preprint servers, publishing in Octopus doesn't stop you publishing an old-fashioned paper later.

How do I publish?

Octopus accepts 8 types of publication — all must be linked to another publication somewhere in Octopus. The top of any "chain" is a publication that is defining a scientific Problem. Below that you can publish a Hypothesis (theoretical rationale), below that a Method/Protocol, below that Data/Results, below that Analysis, below that Discussion and below that Applications or translations in the real world. Reviews can be published attached to any of those 7 other types of publication.

To publish, click on the icon and follow the steps to upload your manuscript or use the online editor.

What about copyright?

When Octopus allows you to select a Creative Commons copyright label. This will ensure that you can retain your intellectual property rights as the author, but that others can use your work in the way that you want.

What is the rating system?

Every publication in Octopus can be rated by logged-in readers (i.e. people with an ORCiD). Each type of publication has 3 pre-defined criteria on which you are asked to rate it. These allow us to define what we as a scientific community consider "good science", and allow authors to get truly meritocratic feedback and reward for their work.

Everything you rate will be associated with your username, so it will be obvious if you rate people in a partisan manner.

Can I publish in both Octopus and a journal?

Octopus is designed to replace journals as the primary research record, allowing journals to concentrate on editorialising primary research and disseminating it in a suitable form to their specific readerships. However, in the medium term, many people will want to continue writing papers and recording work first in Octopus should be no barrier to that. Journal policies differ in how they treat material that has been previously published, such as on a preprint server. We recommend that you check whether your intended journal objects before publishing in Octopus.

Won"t people steal my ideas/data if I publish it?

Once you"ve published something, it can"t be stolen – it"s yours. Publishing to Octopus quickly can establish your priority. If your hypothesis is later supported by data, it doesn"t matter whether that data is collected by you or someone else or by many people: it"s you that published the hypothesis and you that gets the credit for that. Similarly, if you have published the data, that"s a publication already under your belt. You can also publish an analysis of that data – and so can other people.

Does each publication get a DOI?

We are working to implement DOIs for each publication in Octopus, just like for any other kind of publication. At the moment, for beta testing, we are using our own unique IDs.

If this is only a beta version, when will Octopus launch?

This is our first major iteration of Octopus, and we are collating feedback whilst we add in the rest of the features we want for launch. We hope to launch fully in September 2020. If you want to help, please email [email protected]!

Why would I write a public review?

Reviewing and rating is critical to good science. Open peer review, where readers can read the reviews and opinions of others is important as it allows people to learn from the views of those with different experience and knowledge. In Octopus, a review is treated as an equal type of publication to any other, so every review you write will itself appear attached to your individual publication list and will be rated by others. Treat it as carefully as any other piece of work you publish – and enjoy the credit you will get as a result.

Some people are concerned about writing open critiques of others" work. We believe that no one writing a genuine, well-argued critique of another"s work is likely to face any backlash, but are considering implementing a system whereby ALL publications in Octopus remain anonymous for their first few months, allowing double-blind reviewing.

How do I format my publications?

Because each publication in Octopus is smaller than an old-fashioned paper, you will no longer need to spend time writing an Introduction etc for each publication. What you will now publish as a Problem will be roughly the equivalent to a traditional paper"s introduction. A Hypothesis directly following that will therefore no longer need to include all the information in that Problem, though may refer to other publications that support the scientific basis for the hypothesis. Similarly, publishing Results/Data will no longer require you to write out the Method, merely link to the published Method you followed, and add only relevant specific details (such as the dates of data collection, batch numbers of reagents, model numbers of equipment etc).

References should no longer all be listed at the end of a publication. Since all publication is now online, direct embedded permanent URLs (eg. DOIs) should be used. Acknowledgements should still be given at the end of a publication.

For researchers in biomedical sciences, the EQUATOR guidelines on reporting should still be followed.

You can format your own publications in the online editor within Octopus to be sure that you get it to look exactly as you want. No more enforced styles, limited words or figures/tables. And no more time/money wasted proof-reading and sending comments back to Editors.

Someone has pointed out a really important issue in a review – can I retract?

No need for retraction for an innocent oversight. You can reversion your publication. The old version will still exist on file, but the new one will replace it. If a reviewer made such an important point, do consider offering them co-authorship, but at the minimum, add an acknowledgement.

I think a publication should be retracted!

If you suspect plagiarism, copyright issues, ethical or scientific misconduct then you will can click to use the Red Flag system to raise your concerns. This will email the authors and you will enter a "dispute resolution" centre. The publication will immediately be flagged so that it is clear to others that an issue has been raised. If the dispute is not quickly resolved, the issue will be escalated to the authors' institutional Research Integrity Office, or their national office.

Octopus. Built for scientists.
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