An article on the New York Times website this month discussed a new generation of research websites, where scientists can collaborate and share their studies. The article compares “open science” with traditional peer-reviewed journals, quoting researchers that consider the traditional process to be expensive (for the readers), slow and elitist. Scientists are seeking out new venues, the article says, such as open-access peer-reviewed journals, where scientists pay for publication and the public can download studies for free. Moreover, researchers are increasingly turning to social media websites such as ResearchGate, an online community for scientists, and blogs to discuss research results and share scientific papers.
Many researchers still frown upon the sharing of results from scientific studies before the publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The publication of a study in one of these journals is still a major milestone and a source of academic credibility and success. I don’t think the peer review process is going away anytime soon—there is not yet a better option to provide vetting and quality control before publication.
However, it is inevitable that scientific journals will see a similar evolution to other media outlets—publishing more content and finding new avenues and revenue models online, incorporating new ways for readers to participate in the process by commenting and contributing and offering a greater variety of options, including different types of subscription models. The comments on the New York Times article offer some creative ideas for new models that can maintain a rigid quality control system in place, while providing greater and faster access to research.Camilla Andersson