How Science Publishing Will Change

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Photo by Bill Brine

Science publishing, and to a large extent science, is failing.  We’ve talked about this before and so have many others.  But being pessimistic and only focusing on what isn’t working is simple and unproductive.  We think a more productive exercise is highlighting how science publishing will and must ultimately change.

1. Science publishing will become entirely open-access.

Today, roughly 20% of scientific articles are open-access.  Now, before you dismiss this number as insignificant, consider the fact that open-access is a recent development in science publishing.  When viewed under this lens open-access has gained significant ground in a short amount of time.  We believe that science publishing will eventually convert to open-access entirely.  Exactly how this occurs is hard to say, but it will be led through the willful action of scientists (young and old) choosing to publish open-access.

2. Peer review will be transparent.

In most cases, peer review is hidden from the public and blinded to authors.  This limits learning opportunities for scientists and future scientists and has made accountability of reviewers and reviews impossible to assess.  Some scientific journals and individual authors have, however, posted reviews of their papers in an attempt at transparency.  We can’t see how this trend towards transparency will not continue to gain momentum.

3. Peer review will be post-publication.

Currently, peer review is unnecessarily slow as a result of its closed and anonymous process.  Furthermore, and worst of all, it’s ineffective.  To have only a few scientists that may or may not be competitors judge the quality of a paper is unacceptable.  The real peer review has always occurred when all scientists can review the work: post-publication.  The false security that comes with “passing” pre-publication peer review will be replaced by a dynamic post-publication review system that allows papers to be reviewed and assigned different degrees of confidence.

4. Publishing will be immediate.

Because reviewing papers will transition from pre-publication review to post-publication review science publishing of the future will occur immediately.  It was once said that publishing is not a system it is the push of a button.  As our world continues to become increasingly connected we see this change as inevitable.

5. Publishing will be free

The “preprint” system already utilizes many of the aspects of this future we’re predicting.  It’s immediate, it’s open-access, it’s free.  With this already being done for free why shouldn’t it expand to all of science publishing?  Our goal at The Winnower is to reach critical mass so that other methods of revenue can be generated ultimately making publishing free to authors.

We’re building a platform to enact these changes and would love for you to join us.  If you have any ideas of what the future of science publishing will/should look like please comment below, we are listening and acting on comments received by the community because it is for the community that The Winnower is being built.