Things the Collective Should Do: Open Academic Web Journal

I’m suggesting here a free-content, openly accessible online repository where researchers, professors, and students publish scientific journal articles for peer review and wide distribution.

This website allows scientific research papers to be published by qualified academicians. The articles can be freely read and peer-reviewed online. Articles are translated into other languages so that they can be read worldwide. A system of of moderation provides a meritocratic means of awarding prestige and press based on quality. An accompanying print journal is provided pro bono or at nominal cost to institutions. To increase the prestige of the journal/repository, it is marketed as a trustable, progressive, intelligent institution, and content is carefully reviewed.

The current scientific publication industry relies on established branding of respectable journals and the ‘publish or perish’ dynamic to keep it afloat. Authors often have to pay for their articles to be published in print-bound journals, which are then sold at a high price to academic institutions. At best the publishing industry contributes little of value to the system, and at worst prevents most people from accessing information that could be useful in the hands of the general public. In essence, the current system lacks utility in spreading scientific knowledge and neither apportions prestige fairly, nor distributes knowledge widely.

Minds around the world would benefit greatly, as the results of studies would be available internationally in many different languages. Universities and authors would also benefit because they are now able to publish and access papers at lower cost. Science as a whole would benefit due to the increased volume and visibility of papers published. Because of the greater number of eyes on the articles and the increased ease of peer review, communicative openness and the scientific method would benefit.

In order to be successful, the open web journal would require buy-in from academic institutions and scientific readers. A combination of aggressive marketing and branding to entice article submissions will facilitate presenting the site as a respectable, reliable source of information. We will need to develop the website’s software, decide how the site is run and edited organizationally (peer review and editing will play a huge part)

The overall progress of science will be assisted, because knowledge will be exchanged more freely. People who would otherwise not have the opportunity to read current scientific literature will have the chance to be inspired as well as educated by it. Competing with current journal models may persuade existing publishers to become more free in an economic and cultural sense. Researchers will have a website which will both distribute their knowledge to the world and grant them recognition for their work – without charging admission. Counting readers or articles would be simple metrics. Measuring changes in research job satisfaction, number of articles published worldwide, or cost of subscriptions to existing print journals would tell other sides of the story.