This Is the Twitter of Scientific Journals: 200 Words or Less

The Journal of Brief Ideas. Short science, now.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

​Image: ​John DiMauro/Flickr

​​The Journal of Brief Ideas is a scientific journal for tossing something out there just to see what sticks. Two hundred words to pitch or present research, published immediately.

Lots of science work languishes, sometimes for years, as it waits for publication. David Harris, co-founder of the journal and a veteran of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, thinks that's a problem. Science is an iterative, collaborative process; an unpublished idea or theory might as well not exist.

"This format may be useful for publishing certain number of papers that wouldn't usually get published—negative or null results, partial results, ideas for work that hasn't been done yet," he told me.

​Like preprint repository arXiv, there's no peer review, but there's also no tolerance for bullshit—troll posts are quickly deleted and ideas are judged based on votes, citations, and views. Submissions get a DOI cataloguing number, like every other scientific paper.

So far, there are submissions from well-known ​astrophysicists, geneticists, anthropologists; ​plans to kill parasites with antidepressants​create better holograms, and knock down the ​general scientific publishing system. These ideas may be short in length—for example, this story is exactly 200 words—but are huge in potential.