Academic Digital

Journals: A more social means of publishing? the peer-review process for academic journals be by-passed for a more online/social means of publishing?

Pickrell went on to describe, in general detail, the features this journal-killing app would require. It would bypass the formal peer review process, taking pre-publication papers and allowing a community of users (scholars and experts, most likely) to vote papers up or down — much like social bookmarking sites such as Reddit do for articles in the popular press. The idea would be to let readers decide which articles deserve top billing, rather than ceding that task to a tiny cloister of journal editors and their hand-picked reviewers. Papers with good feedback would shoot to the top of the list. And if scholars do want proxies to help them decide if an article is worthy of their trust and attention, they could turn to the recommendations of their friends and colleagues. ….

Still, skeptics wanted to know: In such a wild west of scholarly publishing, who would check facts? Pickrell’s answer is the same as Wikipedia’s: everybody. “I think the system could be totally self-regulating with a big enough community,” he said in an interview withInside Higher Ed. The most popular articles would receive the most attention, but they would also receive the most scrutiny. Errors are unlikely to escape a critical mass of studied readers. Mechanisms could be put in place to report errors and redact articles. (Think Wikipedia, but with original research and a specialized corps of volunteer editors.)…

“People read papers and they discuss them,” Pickrell told Inside Higher Ed, but “they don’t necessarily discuss them online. And I think eventually they will…. The issue is going to be getting people involved, and that’s going to be less and less of an issue as time goes on.

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Publishing online is "rebellious"

Academics have been accused of failing to make use of new technology to improve research because they are “selfish” and bogged down in the peer review system.

Speaking at a British Library debate, organised by Times Higher Education, academics and students agreed that researchers had not embraced new technology to share their data and findings.

Addressing the question “What is the future of research?”, Matthew Gamble, a PhD candidate in computer science at the University of Manchester, said that despite projects such as Galaxy Zoo, which shares academic data with the general public, the culture of the “selfish scientist” was holding back British research.

“Altruism is quickly beaten out of young academics in favour of retaining data and making sure you can produce as many publications as possible,” he said.

The “publish or perish culture” taught students that “if they don’t produce a paper there is no point pushing the data out there”, he claimed, adding that “data sharing is still seen as quite rebellious”.

Read full story, including commentary from Aleks Krotoski (of The Virtual Revolution fame)

I am clearly a bit of a rebel, as I’ve published my PhD under Creative Commons licence (sans images, which is what has stalled me on publishing it in the print press at all!)… but people are using my PhD  already (particularly when referring to Keep Calm and Carry On, the history of which comes from my PhD), so at least if it’s under Creative Commons, maybe it will encourage more to NOT use without citation!

Online publication, sidesteps peer review issues?

I’m not a scientist, but it’s interesting to see the debates re: online publishing of materials…

The rise of online journals that publish all scientifically sound articles submitted could stem the “dramatic” rise in the amount of time authors are obliged to spend defending their papers from criticism by referees, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Ronald Laskey, vice-president of the Academy of Medical Sciences and professor emeritus of animal embryology at the University of Cambridge, told the first hearing of the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into peer review that the “engine of peer review has not seized but is misfiring”.

This was because many of the extra experiments being demanded by referees did not relate to the key themes of papers or add substantially to their value.

Speaking to Times Higher Education after the hearing last week, Professor Laskey said part of the reason for the dramatic rise in referees’ demands over the past decade was the facility offered by electronic publishing for supplementary material to be added.

“You can no longer turn round to an editor and say: ‘I can’t get any more in because I’ve reached your page limit’,” he explained. “There is always something more an intelligent reviewer can ask for and that is where it starts to become very counter-productive for science.”

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