Technology has helped so many industries evolve over the past few decades, but scientific publishing, surprisingly, has hardly changed since the first journal article in 1665. They must; their day is done. Their continuing existence damages science.
Several factors create this situation:
The use of an arbiter (Editor) in science – There is nobody qualified to do the job. How can that be? Isn’t science publishing full of editors who evaluate articles to see whether they are worthy of inclusion under a prestigious name? The problem is there is NOBODY up to the job. How can someone have enough knowledge to understand that a newly described insight is big or small, impactful or irrelevant, correct or incorrect? History is full of examples of “great” papers that turned out to be wrong, while many papers describing huge leaps forward had trouble finding anyone to publish them. Editors must not try to decide, because in trying to select for “interest” or “importance”, they might not publish something that changes everything. Or maybe it doesn’t, but what benefit is created by not having the information flow? This effect is particularly exacerbated in the “glamour” mags where mere 28 editors cover every single aspect of science from agriculture, to astronomy, to chemistry, and all aspects of medicine. Even if they were all Nobel prize winners at the top of their game (and let’s recognize they have been away from the lab for years and have become publishers), you would be hard pressed to find 28 people who are truly capable of selecting the best papers from thousands of submissions across every scientific discipline that exists.
Extensive delays – It very commonly takes a year for a paper to be published. In the current world, that means that fundamental insight about Ebola could take a year for others to benefit from it! These delays serve no purpose and are simply a result of the machinery of traditional science publishing hopelessly mired in thinking from an analog age. More.
See also: Another Nobelist denounces peer review
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