Scholarly communications can get bogged down in discussions of metrics, publishing models, open access, promotion & tenure, and funder mandates. These discussions are important but miss that essential ingredient that makes the world spin and life worth living – passion!
Dr. Resta has one of the most cited papers and many books on his subjects. While we, who are not physicists, may not understand the intricate mathematical equations on Dr. Resta’s slides; we can recognize his passion for his subject and appreciate the language of this passionate research:
What is a good property? Why do we need somewhat exotic theories? What is the nearsighted QM Maxwell demon? One’s head spins with imagining that the nasty position operator “r” is ill defined, convergence with the Flake size, orbital magnetization density, or the Haldanium paradigm (F.D.M. Haldane, 1988)…
Have you noticed a new slide inserted into many presentations lately? “What keeps me/you – insert field or job here – awake at night?”
Librarians might say it is the high costs and complexity of content subscriptions. Today’s article Slow and Steady – Taking Time to Think in the Age of Rapid Publishing Cycles by Kent Anderson from The Scholarly Kitchen touches on many intertwined issues inducing librarian sleeplessness. The author discusses the case for rapid publication; the increase in research retractions; peer review; the increasing quantity of published research; corrections and credibility and cost issues. Are we seeing an “industrialization of research?”
Pushing for speed within the publication process may be putting a greater onus on our readers, eroding our brands, increasing skepticism/cynicism around the publication process, and diminishing the role of editors and publishers through a corrosive/erosive process. Maybe we should pause, rethink, and reassess the value of the filters we have created and how best to support, strengthen, and sustain them. Will a week longer make a huge difference? In which direction? Whose risk increases?
In part, whether Google is or is not ready to be the open access platform for scholarly communication, there are two hurdles 1) researchers’ practices and 2) the peer review process.
From the article, Timo Hannay, Managing Director of Digital Science is quoted:
The problem, he says, is not that there are too few options to publish in an open access format. It’s that most academics don’t think about it too much. “Most [academics] don’t particularly care about open access, in part because they are not incentivised to do so. This is changing, but only slowly, and right now most still care more about publishing in established, high-profile journals and in gaining a lot of citations.”
If Google, or another company, had a secret weapon to disrupt the peer review process, now that would be worth getting excited about.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has implemented their own Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science (DOE PAGES – Beta) as a repository for federally funded research.
In US Department of Energy Announces Public Access Plan (David Crotty, Aug. 4, 2014), copyright issues, text and data mining access, and use of data management principles are discussed. These issues and more will need to evolve through communication and practice.
Will the DOE Public Access Plan constitute “major shift in the scholarly publishing landscape” as Crotty writes?
Update: From DOE/Office of Scientific and Technical Information