The scientific publishing lobby: why science does not work

Scientific progress is anchored in the way science is communicated to other scientists. Research papers are published through an antiquated system: scientific journals. This system, enforced by the scientific journals’ lobby, enormously slows down the progress of our society. This article analyzes the limitations of the current scientific publishing system, focusing on journals’ interests, their consequences on science and possible solutions to overcome the problem….”

Speeding up the publication process at PLOS ONE | EveryONE: The PLOS ONE blog

At PLOS ONE we like to speed up the publication process wherever we can. We like science to be out in the open, and publication of peer-reviewed research to take place without undue delays, so that others can use and build upon the findings. Aligned with our founding mission, we aim to be as fast as we can while remaining true to our publication criteria and without compromising the quality of the peer review process. To ensure common editorial standards across the journal we have also increased desk rejects of submission that fail our editorial criteria. This rate now stands at around 23%.


In the past few months we have seen a few exciting improvements in the speed of manuscript handling at PLOS ONE. During April our median time to first editorial decision after peer review dropped to 42 days. It was at 53 days a year ago. And our median time from submission to publication online has also dropped to 165 days in April, coming down from 183 days earlier in 2018. This means that manuscripts that we publish move now 18 days faster through the full peer review process than a year ago, and the first decision after peer review is reached 11 days earlier. A more comprehensive list of long-term metrics is appended below and on our web page. We are very grateful to the members of our Editorial Board and our reviewers that have facilitated a fast peer review at the journal….”

Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing

Abstract:  The changing world of scholarly communication and the emerging new wave of ‘Open Science’ or ‘Open Research’ has brought to light a number of controversial and hotly debated topics. Evidence-based rational debate is regularly drowned out by misinformed or exaggerated rhetoric, which does not benefit the evolving system of scholarly communication. This article aims to provide a baseline evidence framework for ten of the most contested topics, in order to help frame and move forward discussions, practices, and policies. We address issues around preprints and scooping, the practice of copyright transfer, the function of peer review, predatory publishers, and the legitimacy of ‘global’ databases. These arguments and data will be a powerful tool against misinformation across wider academic research, policy and practice, and will inform changes within the rapidly evolving scholarly publishing system.

Flaws in Academic Publishing Perpetuate a Form of Neo-Colonialism

Some publications charge up to $3,900 (Rs 2.7 lakh) as APCs, which leaves researchers from lower to middle-income countries such as India much poorer. And if academic publication is skewed in favour of high-income countries, science becomes skewed in favour of them.

Explaining real-world phenomena objectively has always been touted as the “white man’s burden” and has been the backbone of the colonising mission. Often only researchers and academics from certain privileged pockets have the resources to conduct and publish cutting-edge research. After all, they enjoy superior infrastructure and funding opportunities.

This disparity is exacerbated when they have sufficient resources to publish their work, often allowing knowledge to be created by only a certain kind of individual. Further, their blinkers and biases may continue to play a role in what they propose is a universal phenomenon – a form of neo-colonialism. Therefore, making science open access from both the production and the consumption perspectives is essential to make knowledge more democratic….”

University Journals – innovative academic publishing

The University Journals offers an alternative to the current journal ecosystem, Linked to university repositories, University Journals publish reviewed articles, data and other academic works on an accredited open access platform.

The University Journals platform is owned by the university community and offers Open Access journal publications to researchers affiliated to its university partners.

University Journals is a joint initiative from 14 international European universities. Initial development is funded by the PICA foundation and the University of Amsterdam.

So what about editor compensation? – ScienceGuide

“As open access Plan S draws closer editors start to re-evaluate the business case of academic publishing, and their role in it. In contrast to common belief editorial compensation is not all that uncommon. In a major investigation ScienceGuide reveals that editors at academic journals can make up to five figure salaries….”

Academic-Led Publishing and the Necessity of Open Access – Michigan Publishing

First, not everyone lives near a university or library with access to journals; most universities and libraries are in urban centers, and while in the U.S. over 80% of people live in or near urban centers, globally the number is closer to 55%. Second, even is one does live near a university, that university might not have access to a large number of journals, since libraries have limited budgets they can spend on either print subscriptions or purchasing digital access to serials and ebook content. My own undergraduate alma mater had significantly low levels of access to online journals content, as did my master’s alma mater; I either had to request multiple articles a semester through Interlibrary Loan (which costs the university money), or had to ask folks at other universities with better access packages to send me PDFs of what I needed for research. Not until I entered my PhD program at a major state research university did I get access to most serials research available behind paywalls. Third, even assuming a publishing landscape in which most research is available as no-fee online open access content, 53.6% of the global population (as of 2017) does not have easy, regular access to the internet—and that number obscures significant inequalities across regions, since the data for developing and least-developed nations is significantly offset in the global percentage by that of the developing world, where 84.4% of the population has household access to the internet.

The benefits of open access will always be weighed against the larger inequalities of global capitalism, but open access still remains an important goal for combating global information inequality. This was recognized as early as the 1970s, when Michael S. Hart founded Project Gutenberg to provide widespread access to public domain materials, and reiterated throughout the 1980s and 1990s as the Free Software Movement and development of arXiv pushed for the free sharing of information and academic publications, giving birth to the contemporary open access movement by the early 2000s. At the end of the second decade of the 21st century, open access has been embraced by many publishers and government agencies. Europe clearly leads the rest of the world in open access. Science Europe and the European Research Council’s Plan S, for example, has pushed to have all government-funded academic research made open access by 2020, and many European governments and universities provide researchers with open access funds earmarked for publisher subventions that make monographs open access (my first edited collection benefited from such funds provided by Utrecht University). American academic publishers have also begun to emphasize open access for monographs, and the landscape for journals publishing—especially questions of venue prestige that reflect on tenure and promotion—is swiftly changing….

Michigan Publishing and other library publishers are major forces behind the push for open access journals publishing. With the exception of two journals whose issues are under six month embargoes, all of our 46 serials (30 of which are actively publishing) are available open access as soon as they are published. The goal is to provide anyone who wants to view journal content the ability to do so for free. Of course, the creation of journal content and the labor that goes into copyediting, typesetting, and coding the articles for HTML are not free. Cost of journal creation is and always will be the major barrier to making scholarship open access, meaning that journals and/or publishers dedicated to open access have to eat the cost of providing labor, materials, and the final journal products to their audience. Because labor must be paid, and because labor and materials will always be involved in the production of scholarly publications, it is inevitable that open access will always cost someone something. Some journals, particularly in the sciences, make up for this by requiring authors to pay article processing charges; though this is a solution to the necessary costs of open access, it raises other concerns about who has access to the funds required to pay APCs….”