About The Next Layer

The Next Layer

Arts, Politics and Free and Open Source Software

The Next Layer (TNL) is a platform for collaborative research. Built on the basis of the content management system Drupal it offers advanced features for online publishing. Subscribers can run their own research journal, combining text, images, audio, video and bibliographic references. Comment and forum functions enable the posting of comments and discussions, allowing subscribers to engage with each others work.

Since its inception in August 2007, new features have been added which aim at supporting peer preview processes and weak link collaboration. The term "Peer Preview" refers to a new concept which is a work-in-progress on TNL. Traditional academic journals are based on the notion of peer review, where finished papers are submitted for review by academic peers. In "peer preview", the non-finished character of research papers is emphasised. Closed working groups allow members to review each others work at an early stage and discuss it openly and frankly. Work that is advanced that way can later be opened for public viewing.

"Weak link collaboration" refers to benefits that arise from researchers sharing a platform. As researchers post research journal entries (blogs), develop taxonomies, enter references and edit newsfeeds, they become aware of each others work and can discover new things and overlapping research interests. The development of interdisciplinary methodologies benefits from those features.

Thoughtful use of Drupal features such as 'books', 'footnotes' and 'references' allow the publication of hierarchically structured documents with proper text editing and presentation features such as footnotes and linked reading notes (bibliographic references).

TNL is a tool which in particular supports the work of researchers involved in practice based PhDs yet is open to everyone with an interest in collaborative research practices.

TNL supports an open publishing policy. There is no 'one-size fits all' copyright licence for articles and other forms of content. Contributors are free to decide which licence they use or if they use no licence at all, yet the overall aim is to make high quality content available to the wider public.

TNL has been initiated by Armin Medosch and is supported by a slowly but steadily growing membership base. Membership is free and without obligation.

TNL is supported by in-kind hosting by http://lo-res.org