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Where's academic publishing at?

Academic Publishing

Res00 | 13-05-2021

Where’s academic publishing at today? So you have carried out some great research and want to tell the world. You want to get your article published in a peer reviewed journal, preferentially a high ranking one. Journals are ranked by impact factor- the average number of times that an article in that journal is referenced by articles in other peer reviewed journals in a 2 year period. Peer reviewed articles will first need to be approved by an editor and then sent out to suitable reviewers or peers, from their database of contacts, for a blinded review- removing all author details. Once the reviews are returned the editor will decide to publish the article or not. Peer reviewed publication gives kudos to academic work and should allow the work to be disseminated and appreciated widely. However social media and the growth of so called pre-print servers, has allowed alternative means of dissemination of research. It also allows anyone to comment or essentially review an article. Where do these two processes sit together? How does peer review sit with the court of public opinion? You want your work to be professionally arbitrated after all. If a company wanted to develop a drug, though they might engage in market research, they wouldn’t post a question or quora. If you needed a doctor you probably wouldn’t take unsolicited advice in preference. Does the peer review process provide assurance and fair accessibility? What is the vetting process to be a reviewer? We will get on to these. Today most people who view research articles expect to do so for free, this increases dissemination of research information which is good, but it means that journals have difficulty raising income from the reader of articles- so how do they raise income? A worrying trend is that the income is raised form the creator of the research through publishing fees. Publishing fees can be very prohibitive. Even the highest ranking journals may have publishing fees that run between £2000 and £5000 per article. Having such fees could turn academic publishing into vanity press, because now there is no financial incentive for the journal to publicize the work; they have already been paid in full from the publication fee. The journals know that it would be extremely unlikely that a researcher would dip into their pockets to pay these fees and would be reliant on a research funder. The journals ask if the research has been funded. Funding is very beneficial- it can facilitate research and potentially improve the process through the competitive application for grants. Ethics and R&D approval are also essential for protection of participants and organization. A second benefit from these safeguarding mechanisms is the increased openness that arises through wider collaboration. However, funding can potentially cause a conflict of interest. The funder could be an organization that will gain financially from the research which could potentially cause bias, however when a journal asks if you have funding you can bet that this is a kind of credit check. If you don’t have funding, the journal will wonder, how likely is it that you will pay the publication fees, and therefore can decline your article without blinded peer review. A large publication fee could mean that only funded research is likely to get published in journals which carry a publication fee. I don’t think it's a healthy state of affairs that only funded research is likely to get published. Funded work could be conflicted work through the influence of the funder, though it usually isn’t. Many people devote extra hours of their time to generate ground breaking research without the thought of financial reward and I don’t think that this is something that should be suppressed. Historically most scientific progress was achieved without any of these mechanisms. So who can be a peer reviewer? Editors will know colleagues from their academic circles and meetings and see the names of authors from the reference lists of published articles. But essentially there is no vetting of peer reviewers, anyone can be asked to review and article. Editors are finding it increasingly difficult to get responses from invited reviewers, largely as they are expected to work for free. I frequently get asked to review articles from many peer reviewed journals, where I know next to nothing about the subject area of the journal and I am sure many others share this experience and wonder how they can be expected to provide an expert review. It sometimes makes me doubt the veracity of the peer review process. The current peer review publication model gives nothing to those creating the research let alone those reviewing the research. Can you imagine a musician or author not receiving royalties for their work on top of having to pay a large fee to get their work published? You might think that academia is different, that money might corrupt and bias the research process, but there is already money in academic publishing, but it only goes to the publisher, and kudos alone has historically been shown to be more than enough to corrupt research. So what’s the alternative? At Research Infinity we aim to give back to the creator of academic work by allowing them to share in their publishing revenue, using income generated proportionally form advertising. A funding model which works for media and social media. We also have an open article comment system, Is peer review superior to this- yes quality is always better than quantity but I think it can be problematic too. Is it possible to have both? Probably the best test of an article’s worth is its ultimate impact- the number of times it had been referenced by other published articles. When an article is referenced by a peer then it has in a way been reviewed by a peer, actually by many peers if it has been multiply referenced. Though peer review is important it need not be a barrier to the article being published- If an article adds nothing then it won’t be referenced by other articles. The interested portion of the public can ultimately decide the worth of an article. So how does this sit with peer review. We aim to develop peer review eventually in parallel with the open review system- so let’s see. We also offer publication to all academic areas. You might think that your project doesn’t just fit into one area of research and have difficulty selecting an appropriate journal. If you want to be part of this then check out our website below. Register to start submitting and start earning from your work. Let your research do the work!