Ever heard of Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)? If you publish research related to biotechnology, you likely know the term “CRISPR.” CRISPR is a new, but rapidly growing genetic technology that holds promising developments in many fields and across many disciplines. CRISPR is a fast and accurate application for genetic modification. The technology makes it much easier to edit the DNA of living organisms, which has life-changing potential for medicine, pharmacology, biofuels, agriculture, and much more. But because the technology is so easy to use, many are concerned about potential misuses, such as terrorism or eugenics. CRISPR researchers are therefore creating regulatory issues that scientists, politicians, and society will need to address.
The CRISPR Journal
In the wake of this world-changing new technology comes a publishing platform for disseminating information and furthering research into CRISPR and its myriad potential uses. The CRISPR Journal is an international peer-reviewed journal set to launch in January 2018 in both print and online editions as well as open-access options. Due to the abundance of ethical, societal and legal issues, it could be interesting — not just for researchers but also for scientific publishing in general.
CRISPR Journal will join the Mary Ann Liebert Inc. portfolio of more than 80 journals, including Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Kevin Davies, genetics expert and founding editor of Nature Genetics, will be the journal’s executive vice president of Strategic Development. He’s excited about the new endeavor, saying in the EurekAlert! article, “The extraordinary excitement and profound implications of CRISPR research exceed anything I’ve seen in the past 30 years of research and scientific publishing. I firmly believe that The CRISPR Journal, devoted to capturing critical advances in CRISPR research and genome editing applications, will serve a huge unmet need across the scientific community.”
Journal content and review
Because of CRISPR’s wide breadth of potential uses, the journal will focus specifically on that technology: international research — even failed experiments — editorials, analysis, debate, recent news, and commentary. This is important because the technology is moving forward so quickly researchers, scientists, professionals, and even policymakers will need the information to make wise decisions in research and policymaking. Also because of the widespread technology applications, the journal will serve a very diverse audience. To help with the task, the publisher will employ a multidisciplinary global editorial team of CRISPR experts to oversee the peer review selection process. It may need an entire team simply to untangle and stay current with changing state, federal, and global rules, regulations, and legislation!
Along with the research, The CRISPR Journal will need to address the moral, ethical, and societal implications of the technology. The potential misuse of CRISPR technology is bolstered by the possibility of scientific acclaim as well as the tremendous financial implications. The journal can provide a platform for societal concerns; debates on potential misuses; and discussions around possible regulations and legislation. The journal’s editors will want to balance the need to disseminate ground-breaking research with the need to be cautious about how the audience might use the information. They will also need to weigh the importance of quickly releasing important advances with the need to be wary of premature release — before they fully know and understand the implications and possible consequences.
We live in exciting yet challenging times. Journal publishers at the forefront of new technologies, such as The CRISPR Journal, have a great opportunity for furthering life-altering research and development. This is tempered by the realization that this same technology can literally change the course of human evolution in a variety of ways. The CRISPR Journal publishers will undertake the huge responsibility of walking the fine line between scientific advancement and moral, ethical, and unknown consequences. It will be interesting to watch how they handle the task.
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