Academic publishing notes01 Sep 2009
On academic publishing, Jason Hoyt:
This past February, I was on a panel discussion at the annual NFAIS conference, a popular forum for academic publishers. The conference theme was on digital natives in science. At one point I was asked (rather rudely) by a rep from a major publisher what exactly the new business model should look like for publishers in an Open Access world. My first thought was, I dont care if you find one or not. Im here to advance science, not your bottom line.
[Sir John] Sulston argues that the use of journal metrics is not only a flimsy guarantee of the best work (his prize-winning discovery was never published in a top journal), but he also believes that the system puts pressure on scientists to act in ways that adversely affect science - from claiming work is more novel than it actually is to over-hyping, over-interpreting and prematurely publishing it, splitting publications to get more credits and, in extreme situations, even committing fraud.
The system also creates what he characterises as an "inefficient treadmill" of resubmissions to the journal hierarchy. The whole process ropes in many more reviewers than necessary, reduces the time available for research, places a heavier burden on peer review and delays the communication of important results.
It’s an increasing problem in Britain:
The pressure to publish in top journals has increased even further with the recent announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England that citations will be available for use by panels to help them judge the quality of academics' output in the new research excellence framework. As academics strive to increase their citation counts, it seems likely that the new system will only serve to intensify the publish-or-perish mentality.
Just keeping track. I think it’s more an evolution than a revolution that’s coming – today’s system is financially similar to 1980, but structurally very different. The development of trust in new findings has changed as the volume of work has changed. It has gotten easier to ignore things, for better and for worse.