Friday’s NCEAS discussion about changing the future of scientific publishing was fascinating. We had a wide variety of views about the current system, what it’s adding to our papers, if the problems really are problems, and why we got here. But there was one thing that came up again and again, that even the most skeptical status quo folk in the crowd agreed was where the true value of the current journal system lies –
Editorial peer review.
Not a single person in the audience denied that their papers were not hugely improved by the peer review process, as well as the editor’s comments and revisions that came with it.
And that was it, really. Any other model you please was deemed a non-starter by many if it didn’t include editorial peer review. The one thing which generally we all do as part of service (except at higher EIC levels – usually). There was some other talk of niceties – professional layout, etc., but it was also pointed out that much of that we can now do ourselves on our desktop.
So that would seem to be the gauntlet thrown. If you want to change the system, the new system still has to involve strong peer review – guided by editors or guided by the crowd or whatnot was not discussed (but, interesting to ponder). Without it, solutions will be viewed with skepticism or even derision (gauging by reactions). But with it, there is room for a viable alternative. Food for thought.