Becoming a published author in any field is not an easy task. As Andrew experienced in his publication process, many publishers are very particular about the work they choose. This constant process of rejections and appeals leads many scientists with innovative new ideas to feel disheartened by the procedure. However, the time old process of application and rejection is not the only way to publish scientific work anymore.
A Swiss startup calling themselves, “ScienceMatters” have developed their own form of crowdsourced publication. Founder and CEO, Lawrence Rajendran, came up with the idea when he experienced his own difficulties with publishing a paper. He found that many top journals were not interesting in correct or new information, if it lacked an exciting factor. The sheer amount of discoveries and new work these publications receive far exceed the time and employees they have to cover them. Because of that, the journals only want the articles that will generate big press and leave out many great ideas that just were not interesting enough to them.
The idea of ScienceMatters is unique to many scientific publishers, but has a lot of promise for the future of publication. To narrow down good work, the site requires two basic principles. First, the research has to functionally work, in the sense of proper controls and good execution of the experiment. Second, it needs to have a basis in a scientific field such as biology or physics. Once it has been confirmed that the paper meets both these requirements, it is reviewed in a triple blind review process, keeping both author and editor completely anonymous. This process produces scientifically sound, peer-reviewed papers that remove the bias from large journal’s paper selection.
The company draws some parallels between a Nobel Prize winner, Randy Schekman, who created a similar crowdsourced publication called, “eLife”. Schekman was famously known for disparaging top journals for their selection principles. Like ScienceMatters, eLife wants to change the traditional dynamics of science publication to benefit the scientists instead of the journals. By giving the power back to the scientists, the work is more much rewarding and publication will no longer be the make-or-break point of many scientists’ careers.
Crowdsourced publication is a unique and possibly brilliant concept. ScienceMatters has published almost one hundred papers, and has more than half a thousand editors for the review process. The company could face problems down the road with funding or advertising, but the University of Bern in Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) are currently negotiating deals to cover publishing charges. Overall, ScienceMatters and crowdsource publication could be the future of science publishing and would greatly benefit scientists around the world.
“ELife.” ELife Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
“Enter the Next-generation Science Journal.” ScienceMatters. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Magistretti, Bérénice. “Disrupting the World of Science Publishing.” TechCrunch. AOL Inc., 27 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.