Where is scientific publishing headed to?

We have technical means to revolutionizing scientific publishing. Open access journals are, at least in theory, a materialization of the scientific ethos described by Merton and codified by Ziman in the acronym "CUDOS", in which the C stands for communalism. The open access journal, with all its articles available online at no cost, is the best possible way, in my opinion, to disseminate science.

Following the steps of the NIH, the Gates foundation is requiring that research that they funded, even partially, has to be published in OA journals: Gates Foundation mandates open access for all the research it funds

A showdown between universities and authors and traditional publishers is shaping up, and OA publishing has become an important leverage in that dispute, with an increasing number of skirmishes happening all over the world:
Open Access 2014: A Year that Data Cracked Through Secrecy and Myth

Although we’re not quite there yet, the future anticipated twenty years ago by professor Ron LaPorte in his classical article on the future demise of biomedical journals[1] looms large on the horizon.

The pressure to publish, however, and the perverse incentives it creates, has resulted in the proliferation of pay-to-publish journals, with deceptive names, run by shady publishers. Those are being systematically exposed, often with funny results, as in the following examples:

A paper by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel was accepted by two scientific journals
Why A Fake Article Titled "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?" Was Accepted By 17 Medical Journals
Bogus Journal Accepts Profanity-Laced Anti-Spam Paper

(the last one made me laugh really hard)

These are obvious examples of predatory publishers, as defined by Jeffrey Beal, but the problems with scientific publishing are not restricted to that. Several instances of fake or arranged reviews have been uncovered recently, as described here: Who reviews the reviewers?

Increased attention to the whole process of publishing, from submission to the final release of the article, is clearly required, but despite the problems, it looks likely that the future will be open…

[1] LaPorte, Ronald E., et al. "The death of biomedical journals." Bmj 310.6991 (1995): 1387-1390.


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