Scientific publishing

1) This exchange argues that the removal of peer review will:

(1) remove their [ ficional ] value as a career currency 
(2) will improve speed of resaerch communications 
(3) save a lot of time for reviewers AND readers

2) Michael Eisen on:
a) the problems with the APC model

b) society journals

3) “Time to end parachute science

“In geoscience, only 30% of articles from Africa had an African
author [7]. In the field of coral reef biology, 40% of publications that contained fieldwork conducted in Indonesia or in the Philippines did not specify which nation the field research had been conducted in; the respective figure for Australia was just 22%… authorship hierarchies in which local authors are by default assigned middle-author positions, i.e., neither first nor last author positions… collaborative authorship models commonly involve assignment of robust primary outcomes papers — the cream of the research — to researchers from HICs, while secondary papers are allocated to local scientists…

… because scientists in HICs have majority access to funding, they tend to dictate the research agenda, thus the disease priorities of the countries hosting field research are not prioritized…

… From the societal angle, lack of equitable inclusion of local scientists has repercussions on community engagement, trust, and robustness of research, with profound effects on the outcome of the research, its reproducibility, and implementation… parachute science limits the effectiveness of responses to outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as those associated with the Ebola and Zika epidemics, in which lack of data sharing by foreign researchers undermined host countries’ capacity to prevent and prepare for outbreaks…

…journals have the unique responsibility to increase awareness of — and eliminate — extractive research practices… In 2021, PLOS announced a landmark policy on parachute science and inclusivity in global research. Foreign researchers are required to complete an “Inclusivity in global health questionnaire” — which aims to improve transparency in reporting of research performed outside researcher’s own country… This is an exhortation to all journals to develop ad hoc policies to tackle this inequity in global research.”


You have to admire both the optimism and arrogance of tech bros who feel it within their scope to corral the whole means of scientific knowledge generation and dissemination, and slot it in as a application subroutine. He’s basically proposing PLoS with a Reddit-like post-pub voting mechanism.

He doesn’t want to radically overhaul the current, inefficient system. He wants to maintain the current pre-pub review gatekeeper schtick, but dispense with anonymity altogether (forget double-blind reviews, this system won’t even have single-blind reviews). And replace three reviewers with hundreds of reviewers.

The idea of assessing and rating reviewers seems a good one, if only to incentivize reviewers to be more fair and thoughtful.

He doesn’t address the issue of APC. In fact, the issue of financing is entirely unclear. But he’s looking for investment. Always a good thing when no-one gets paid except him.

Overall, can’t help but feel this an incredibly naive proposal which takes no account of bad actors, and how a complex mechanism will provide more opportunities for people to game the system. This includes predatory publishers with financial incentives to gum up the system any way, any how.

It does emphasize how difficult it will be to overhaul the whole process, to pinpoint inefficient path dependencies that can be eliminated, to make it financially viable over the long term without it being exploitative, to assign priority, to do it more cheaply, fairly, quickly.

Finally, I would argue that scientific info archiving and dissemination should be a public responsibility, and should not be in the hands of private individuals, foundations or companies. This has always been my problem with companies like 23 and Me, or Ancestry. Even if you think the current management team is composed of the most decent human beings on the face of the planet – no founder lives forever. At some point, new people will take over, or the company will get sold to Google or Amazon etc. What then? Scientific information should not be in the hands of a single company – open source or otherwise (what will you do when, one day, the company decides they no longer want all “their” info open source?). Also, the public paid for the research and should have the right to access the information that they paid for.