Imminent Changes In The Publication Process In Sciences.

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‘In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.’ – Galileo Galilei

The present system of dissemination of research is primarily based upon publication in ‘peer reviewed’ journals. While the journals themselves stand to gain profit from the research done by scientists, the hapless researcher can think of only one gain, i.e., being published in a ‘peer reviewed’ ‘prestigious journal’. In today’s world, many such ‘prestigious’ journals even demand money from the researchers for publishing their work. The much debated ‘peer review’ that such journals ensure primarily include the opinions only a few ‘know-it-alls’. While much trash pass through this ‘very efficient’ system, many great works are ridiculed. Journals lose so much of their funds maintaining such a process.

However, the journals did once serve their purpose. The journal-system once used to be one of the best forms of dissemination of research, before it hit the stone-wall of scientific elitism driven almost entirely by profit-making forces. This system of publication is obsolete (to put it very mildly) and its replacement by more efficient systems is long overdue. In today’s information-driven world there can be no place for any false sense of intellectual aristocracy. Advent of the Internet and cloud-based storage, which allows  peers to look easily into each other’s work, has made the logic behind continuing with the  medieval system of ‘peer review’ even more ineffectual.

Discussing with an open mind, what purpose do the journals serve now except serving commercial interests of a select few? A free storage service like the arXiv should be enough for disseminating research. While this particular storage has turned elitist over time, new ones like figshare have many added features to make the work of the scientific community easier. Figshare makes good use of cloud based storage and it allows all forms of research to be published. A peer review by the whole scientific community is always better than that done by a chosen few. The journals can still survive ‘scavenging’ for their favoured research works that are already published in Open Science data-repositories. They can choose works from such repositories and re-publish them if they wish to, giving due credit. However, dissemination of research in a place like figshare should be enough for the researcher in terms of publication and credit. A progressive involvement of the community of scientists, as a whole, is required for providing these new systems the much needed impetus.

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5 thoughts on “Imminent Changes In The Publication Process In Sciences.

  1. “A progressive involvement of the community of scientists, as a whole, is required for providing these new systems the much needed impetus.”

    Word.

    You’re right. We have to set the default to open, kick the impact factor disease, and start thinking critically about why we’re doing science – for a line on a CV, or for something more? It’s happening slowly, but a culture shift is needed.

  2. Pingback: Could a reddit model replace the current scientific publication system? | Randal S. Olson

  3. Thanks Randal S. Olson for your insights. The major points raised by you are:
    1. Scarcity of reviewers:
    Well, I see no reason why the community of scientists as a whole cannot take care of that. Being filtered by a greater number of researchers rather than a select few does away with many of the evils that plague the so-called tradional model. A croud-based system automatically takes care of the said scarcity. The model becomes more and more Internet-based than print-based.

    2. Standing out among the rest:
    Publishing in some haloed journal can never imprint any greater legitimacy to a work. That is the whole point. If democracy and freedom of thought and expression do not exist in science, where else do we expect it will? Science favours no individual or a group of individuals. Even a crowd-based system is bound to be imperfect. However, it is a more legitimate way compared to the judgement of a select few, anyday.

    3. ‘…only a few people are in charge of deciding which manuscripts are “highlight-worthy,” not all manuscripts are going to be given a fair rating.’:
    The blogs you mentioned is very much like the ‘scavenging’ journals mentioned in this blog-post. The idea behind such journals is not shifting power of attorney from one group to another. The community of scientists, as a whole, is still the guardian of science. The journals (or such groups) will only showcase their preferred works, but these works will in no way represent any greater value than the crowd-sourced open works. The crowd will still hold all power over the dessimination process and not a chosen few. The ‘scavenging’ journals will only pick a few of their preferred works from a much larger pool of research works. In a way such journals will merely further scientific dialogue than ensuring legitimacy or bossing over the publication process of research.

  4. Pingback: Imminent Changes In The Publication Process In Sciences. | openingscience.org

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