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Open Access is really taking off these days, at least if measured by the number of people chiming in with opinions, visions and concerns. Today saw not only the deposition of our paper on how journal rank is like homeopathy or astrology on ArXiv, but Mike Taylor also cites Michael Eisen in an aptly titled article "Hiding your research behind a paywall is immoral" as noting that "fewer than half of biology hires at Berkeley in the last decade have published in Science, Nature or Cell". Although there is still no citable evidence to that effect I know of, it underscores the empirical data we do review in our article: it is irrelevant where scientific discoveries are published. Journal rank is a figment of our imagination and does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Just making journal articles open access will only cure one symptom of the disease that is crippling science today. We need to rid ourselves of the illusion of journal rank and instead rely on scientific methods to perform the sort. filter, evaluation and discover tasks we currently bestow on journal rank. Dan Cohen on Wired echoes that sentiment when he demands in Wired that "To Make Open Access Work, We Need to Do More Than Liberate Journal Articles". His article emphasizes (as we do in ours) that the important development that now needs to happen is to change the incentives for scientists, to align them better with what is good for science. He emphasizes the need to replace journal rank with post-publication review, focusing on the article, i.e. the scientific discovery, rather than on the container, i.e., the journal.

See also: part II: visions, part III: concerns.
Posted on Thursday 17 January 2013 - 10:19:03 comment: 7
open access   publishing   journal rank   

Mike Taylor posted on17 Jan 13: 12:11:

I'd agree with all of that, conceptually at least. But as you know, I think moving away from the journal system is an end-game rather than something we need to be pushing at the same time as OA. I think we can learn to ignore journal rank before we get around to leaving journals behind completely.

I just wish you'd used the homeopathy and astrology analogies in your paper.

BTW., does this site have an "email me when someone adds a comment to this entry" facility? I can't find it, which means I will probably never see whatever response gets posted here (unless you prod me).

bjoern posted on17 Jan 13: 12:43:
Comments: 322

1) I'd not be surprised if moving away from journals were an end-game - that'd be very human. But it's a logical consequence of not having journal rank: if all journals are created equal, there's no point in having them. That is, unless you'd call tags on articles that contain former journals' names 'journals'

2) I had it in the manuscript, but my co-author deleted it and I didn't fight for it. Should I?

3) I'm painfully aware that this functionality is lacking. I've had a look into migrating the site and it cannot happen without the help of a software engineer. There would be too much coding required to get everything migrated without losing content and/or generate link-rot on a substantial scale.

Mike Taylor posted on17 Jan 13: 13:05:

1. Just because we reach a stage where all journals are equal in prestige, it doesn't follow that they will all be the same. There can be merit to journals dedicated to a specific field, or to a particular type of study (replications?) or review articles, or Spanish-language articles, or what have you. In any event, we will practically speaking have something like journals demarcated by who is on the editorial board in each area. Already the palaeontology "section" of PLOS ONE feels a bit like its own journal, PLOS ONE Palao, with its own editors.

2. I think you should fight for the memorable hooks, yes.

3. You could do what many other bloggers have done, and just start writing your NEW articles elsewhere, leaving this site as it is. One well-known and respected blog that's currently on its third home (and frequently links back to article in the first and second homes) is Darren Naish's Tetrapod Zoology.

[Please ping again if you reply!]

bjoern posted on17 Jan 13: 14:09:
Comments: 322

1. That's what I meant with 'tags'. This will of course evolve, but in a more meaning- and useful way than now.

2. I'll direct my co-author to this discussion

3. This URL includes my full name. This domain is my online identity and unique (just Google my last name). I've had it since 1999 and will not give up on it. I will migrate, by now it is inevitable, but it will happen seamlessly with minimal link-rot and maximal continuity. I'm constantly thinking and developing the migration strategy and when the right time comes, it'll happen. I see it as a personal challenge not to give in to technical problems and not to sacrifice content over functionality. Content should be stable while functionality evolves (that's the whole point of database backends)

Mike Taylor posted on17 Jan 13: 14:14:

I take your point on #3, but you could always make new virtual host and run the v2 blog there.

Mark Haider posted on12 Feb 13: 08:15:

Maybe a solution would be having specialized, free, peer-reviewed encyclopedias like (see in each subject matter. Some of them can be the work of several libraries.

bjoern posted on12 Feb 13: 09:47:
Comments: 322

@Mark:_ Yes, this would be a solution that's quite similar to what I have in mind. A sort of virtual posterboard, where people post there data and their summary interpretation. Once a sufficient degree of advance has been made, the peer-group can decide to write a manuscript for the scientific audience outside of their specialty.
Or something organic along those lines. Given current technology, there is a lot of opportunities and likely different communities will develop different ways to most effectively leverage this technology.

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