Ed’s Weblog

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New model for scientific publishing

Posted by Ed on April 10, 2003

In other news, scientists are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the scientific publishing process. We do all the work preparing manuscripts (publicly funded), we review the manuscripts of others (publicly funded), we hand over the copyright for free and when the manuscripts are finally published, we have to pay to read them (publicly funded). The publishing companies, meanwhile, sit back and rake in the cash.

The Public Library of Science, amongst others, is trying to do something about this. Their premise is that the results of publicly-funded work should be in the public domain, and that the costs of dissemination are part of the costs of the research. Thus the funding body pays for publication, but also retains the copyright. If this is done through not-for-profit organisations, it cuts out the publishing companies and will increase the efficiency, and equity, of the dissemination of publicly-funded research.

SciX is an EU-funded project aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach and provide the scientific community with the tools to do it.

Biomedical Engineering Online and BMC Medical Imaging are two such journals, and claim to maintain the high quality of traditional print-based journals through the peer-review process, while providing open content and a short publication time. Abstracts are available through PubMed just as with conventional journals.

I think this is a very sound model for scientific publishing and would be interested to know what others think. Is this the way forward?

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2 Responses to “New model for scientific publishing”

  1. will said

    Depends on who the funding body is. Agreed, a dedicate NPO is a much better idea that granting copyright to private funders (whether in the intellectual community or not). However, the NPO then basically takes over the role of the publisher which could then go awry if they don’t have the capitol to provide decent publication.

  2. Shaun said

    We have recently started to publish articles and protocols via Biomed Central and we are very impressed by both the open access concept and the speed and quality of communication during the review process.

    All of Biomed’s published material is archived in Pubmed Central and Pubmed so they are permanently available, regardless of what happens to Biomed itself. Articles are, therefore, also indexed in Pubmed, which is a great advantage.

    And if an organisation joins as an institutional member (for $1500 per year) then there are no submission costs regardless of the number of articles staff submit. $1500 for, say, the entire staff of a university looks like a bargain to me.

    Check it out: http://www.biomedcentral.com

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