The Open Access community is in search of sustainable academic publishing models that are more equitable, transparent, and fair. Indeed, some of the most common models such as Gold OA shift the cost burden of OA publishing to the authors of research, while also profiting from free peer-reviewing labor from these paying authors. Many recognise that this system is unfair towards the researchers from lower-income countries, smaller universities, or research fields where funds are less freely available.
This is why we are developing Quartz Open Access (Quartz OA), a new initiative to enable a fairer and more sustainable Open Access academic publishing system. Quartz OA proposes the use of a community currency and a system of online micropayments for the members of the academic community. This will enable easy donations for journals and researchers, as well as voluntary micropayments from readers to the authors, reviewers and OA Journals of academic articles. Thus journals will receive microdonations from scholars wishing to support and crowdfund their work; reviewers of academic articles will get compensation for their work from the journals, and authors will receive microdonations from other scholars wishing to support their research. These credits can then be used to pay for APCs or academic conferences, and even be converted into any other currency.
The project is supported by the Grant for the Web program to bring state-of-the-art technologies such as blockchain, Interledger and Web Monetization to academic publishing. Quartz OA project aims to help build an infrastructure for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable Open Access publishing model. A model where great academic work is rewarded and underrepresented and niche scholarly communities are nurtured. Our mission is to enable a fairer distribution of funding within the academic publishing ecosystem, helping to promote independent, scholar-led, OA publishers and support scholars in their work.
We want to deeply embed the principles of equal and fair treatment of academics of all walks of life within the Quartz OA technology and governance. However, we don’t have it all figured out yet as ‘fairness’ may be an elusive concept. To gain some insight into the scholarly opinion regarding economic rewards for peer-review, we have conducted a survey which encompassed academics from Europe, North America, India, China, Australasia and Latin America. While most of our respondents (62%) agreed that peer-review should be rewarded, the survey has shown that there are still some important “ifs” that should be considered to make the system fair. Indeed, the fairness of rewards may be perceived differently by scholars depending on their country of residence and research field. The quality of review should also be factored in to ensure the fairness of rewards, which leads us to the considerations of review evaluation criteria and their transparency.
To make Quartz OA fair and sustainable, we want to connect further with the scholarly community and are organising a series of group discussions to identify the core values and the ways to design the technology to respect these values. We will share with you some of our ideas on the discussion topics and ask you to share your thoughts and brainstorm with us using online collaboration tools. Here is our group discussion programme:
Group discussion 1 “Fair rewards for reviews”, 20 November 2020 at 10h00 CEST – join here
What is considered an ‘acceptable’ reward for peer-review work will significantly vary between low- and high-income countries. So what should be a fair economic reward for a review? Do you think the journals should compensate reviewers and/or authors for their work? What would be the appropriate amount of economic compensation? What should the amount of rewards be to make sense to you as a scholar?
Moreover, unfortunately, “ghost reviewing” is still a common phenomenon which means that the recognition of reviewers may be difficult, so how can we make the reviewer reward system fair and equal?
Group discussion 2 “Journal payments”, 27 November 2020, at 10h00 CEST – join here
Our survey results show that different conditions for participation in the Quartz OA community should be expected from independent scholar-led journals and those published by commercial publishers. So, should journals be treated differently depending on whether or not they charge APCs? What would be fair conditions for participation and pricing models? Should microdonations be made to OA journals by the scholarly community?
How can “predatory” publishers and journals be identified and what “safeguards” should the system have to avoid misuse?
Furthermore, pushing the journals to provide economic rewards to reviewers may result in the increase in publication costs for authors or subscription costs for libraries… So, how can the system be designed to avoid this?
Group discussion 3 “Author payments”, 4 December 2020 at 10h00 CEST – join here
We believe that authors of academic articles should not have to pay to disseminate their work and, to the contrary, deserve to receive economic rewards for it. We can allow this by enabling micropayments at the journal article page. However, how can we make such rewards fair according to the contributions of the authors to a research paper in case of co-authoring?
Would you like to become part of our community, and contribute to the development of Quartz OA? Get in touch to register for the workshops at (quartz [at] decentralized.science) and have your say about what is a fair reward for academic work – be it writing, reviewing or publishing academic articles.
Interested to find out more? Follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us at (quartz [at] decentralized.science) and share your thoughts and ideas, we would be glad to hear from you!
You can also learn more at our presentation at the 2nd Basel Sustainable Publishing Forum on 27th October at around 11h30, so tune in to learn more about Quartz OA!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Quartz OA team