Immediate publishing

1 minute read

Michael Eisen: “The Glacial Pace of Change in Scientific Publishing”.

Consider that most papers submitted to journals last November 26th have still not been published. Thats not a random date it happens to be the day NASA launched an Atlas rocket carrying the Mars Scientific Laboratory from Cape Canaveral.
While, on Earth, scientific papers were languishing in editorial purgatory and peer review, bouncing back and forth while authors attempted to cater to some reviewers whim, maybe went to another journal, and then sat around in production for months while the awaited online publication, an SUV-sized robot made its way to another planet, landed with pinpoint accuracy on the surface and started beaming back pictures.
NASA 1. Publishing 0.

Eisen writes forcefully in favor of immediate publishing. I think we need a culture change first. Most people, including most scientists, assume that peer review is something that it isn’t. At the same time, most people, including most scientists, assume that they’re better writers than they are. We have an editing problem. We need to accept that no paper is final, that versioning should be transparent, and that the literature on a research question should be concentrated so that it can be critically evaluated, rather than dispersed across dozens or hundreds of separate journals.