Publishing culture makes bad science

By | January 11, 2012
There's more at stake behind publisher's grip on research. And there's more at stake for innovation than publications as a form of communication in academia.

1. The pressure to publish creates lots of low-quality papers.
Ever get frustrated reading long papers that had a nice title, but turned out to be something less than you had hoped? Or a paper that was 90% copy-and-paste from another paper from the same research team, and 10% new? That's what I mean by low-quality papers. And worse, this won't and can't change until the entire publish-or-perish culture changes, since the pressure to publish after every sub-result within a project, as opposed to once the final results of the project are available, is there. It's kind of like running a blog about how the development of a new web platform is coming, but instead of blogging that it's a work in progress, blogging that it's almost done every day, and duplicating the overview, market analysis, and roadmap on each post. Oh yes, and throwing in buzzwords wherever possible to ensure that it looks impressive. Extremely tedious to read through – no wonder research is so inaccessible to the general public! Reform here is long overdue.

2. The cost of publishing and accessing published papers means that only rich institutions can access research results
In short: if you don't work for a company with a massive R&D department or a higher education institution, you must reinvent the wheel each time, since you often don't have the financial means to 'surf' publications. This is a big blow for innovation. It means we have now two classes of innovation: traditional research, and DIY research. And while there are excellent things coming out of both, the two research castes rarely interact with each other, because the DIY caste publishes freely and not in academic channels, and the traditional research caste needs to cite academic publications to publish their next paper (which the DIY caste can't afford to access). Not quite the optimal information sharing collaboration we would have expected when thinking about scientific progress!

Hopefully an education system reform would be able to bring back open science, and break down the caste system that strangles collaborative innovation in today's scheme.

Reshared post from +Kirill Osipov

Open science: why is it so hard?
Open access is the idea that scholarship should be accessible to all. Many believe that we should require publicly funded researchers to make their work available to the public. That is, if some profe…

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