Jan 272012

Today there was a nice piece of news from slashdot calling for an Elsevier journal boycott: http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/01/27/1322234/scientists-organize-elsevier-boycott .

I completely agree with all the negative points about publishing in a high-cost journal; however the proposed solutions do not address the main problem. Scientists publish in these journals, not because they are good or high-price; they publish there, because of the Impact factor. If you get a good publication in a high-Impact journal, you will quite certainly get grants easily.

Publishing articles nowadays is terribly easy and does not cost a thing (arxiv); filtering and getting good referees however is not.


My solution for this would be a public network of papers, where everybody can publish, read and ‘sign’ those papers. If you agree with a paper, you put your signature under it and the worth of this paper goes up. As your ‘worth’ goes up your signature also gains in weight, when signing other papers. Every paper gets a comment section, where reviews can be written and errors pointed out.

If a well known professor therefore signs your work, others will catch up to it. A ‘good’ paper will gain in publicity quickly due to being sent around a lot. One would also need to include a system of diminishing returns, as to avoid groups signing only their own papers. Ironing out these points of abuse will be the hardest part of this system.

The specification above only consists of four to five sentences and yet I would call it much more stable and open than the currently completely anonymous reviewing system.

 Posted by at 2:08 pm

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>