Need for a change in scientific publishing

Steinar Risnes

Full Text:




scientific publishing; open access; peer review; new system


Outsourcing of scientific publishing to scientific journals is problematic, both economically and academically. It is expensive, slow, non-transparent, unbalanced and excluding. Academic library subscriptions contribute substantially to the publishing companies’ 30-40% profit. There is general consensus that scientific reports should be openly accessible on the Internet. This is generally not the case with articles published in the traditional scientific journals. Open access journals are multiplying fast, but many are of questionable quality. Although open access publishing is less expensive than journal subscription, the article processing charges (APC) of open access journals are still high (up to 5,000 USD) and should be reduced. Science is expensive, scientific publishing should not be expensive.

The impression the present system, with its editors and anonymous reviewers, conveys of quality and objectivity, is partly an illusion. The basis for decision on manuscripts is too thin and the balance of power is too uneven.

Instead of a complicated fallible system, a simple fallible system is suggested: web-based, indexed and searchable repositories funded and organized by accountable and non-profit institutions/organizations where researchers may upload reports that have been thoroughly reviewed by and are supported by one or more competent, impartial, unbiased and named expert peers chosen by the authors themselves. After publication, reports may be further openly evaluated and commented online by named researchers in the field. Article processing charges should be moderate. Such a system would be simple, reasonable, fast, transparent, balanced, including, efficient, and adequately quality secured.




Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers.

Bergstrom CT, West J. (2017). Research tools. How do you know a paper is legit? Calling Bullshit.


Birukou A, Wakeling JR, Bartolini C, Casati F, Marchese M, Mirylenka K, Osman N, Ragone A, Sierra C, Wassef A. (2011). Alternatives to Peer Review: Novel Approaches for Research Evaluation. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. 5, 56. DOI:

Buranyi S. (2017). Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? The Guardian, June 27.

Chawla DS (2017). Publishers take academic networking site to court. Science 358 (No. 6360).

Directory of Open Access Journals.


DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) (2012).


Faulkes Z. (2018). Stinging the predators. A collection of papers that should never have been published. Version 6. Figshare. DOI:

Fyfe A, Coate K, Curry S. Lawson S, Moxham N, Røstvik CM. (2017). Untangling academic publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. DOI:

Holliday EB, Yang G, Jagsi R, Hoffman KE, Bennett KE, Grace C, Zietman AL. (2015). Fate of manuscripts rejected from Red Journal. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 91 (1), 3-10.


Ioannidis JPA, Boyack KW, Klavans R. (2014). Estimates of the continuously publishing core in the scientific workforce. PLOS ONE 9 (7): e101698. DOI:

Kaplan K. (2010). Publishing: A helping hand. Nature 468 (7324), 721-723. DOI:

Kovanis M, Porcher R, Ravaud P, Trinquart L (2016). The global burden of journal peer reviewing in biomedical literature: Strong imbalance in the collective enterprise. PLOS ONE 11 (11): e0166387.


Kovanis M, Trinquart L, Ravaud P, Porcher R. (2017). Evaluating alternative systems of peer review: a large-scale agent-based modelling approach to scientific publication. Scientometrics 113 (1), 651-671.

Lahti L. (2016). Scientific journal subscription costs in Finland 2010‒2015: a preliminary analysis. rOpenGov, June 10.

Larsen PO, von Ins M. (2010). The rate of growth in scientific publication and the decline in coverage provided by Science Citation Index. Scientometrics 84 (3), 575-603. DOI:

Lozano GA. (2013). The elephant in the room: multi-authorship and the assessment of individual researchers. Current Science 105 (4), 443-445.

Lozano GA. (2014). Ethics of using language editing services in an era of digital communication and heavily multi-authored papers. Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (2), 363-377. DOI:

MacDonald F. (2016). 8 scientific papers that were rejected before going on to win a Nobel prize. Science Alert, August 19. href=

Morrison H. (2013). Economics of scholarly communication in transition. First Monday 18 (6). DOI:

Okike K, Kocher MS, Nwachukwu BU, Mehlman CT, Heckman JD, Bhandari M. (2012). The fate of manuscripts rejected by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American Volume). J Bone Joint Surg Am 95 (17), e130. DOI:

Open Access 2020.


OSF Preprints.

PeerJ Preprints.

Plan S (2018).

Plume A, van Weijen D. (2014). Publish or perish? The rise of the fractional author. Research Trends Issue 38.

Porter S. (2012). How much does it cost to get a scientific paper? Digital World Biology, January 9.


Research Preprints.


Schekman R. (2013). How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science. The Guardian, December 9.

Schimmer R, Geschuhn KK, Vogler A. (2015). Disrupting the subscription journals’ business model for the necessary large-scale transformation to open access. DOI:

Schmitt J. (2015a). Academic journals: The most profitable obsolete technology in history. Huffpost, February 21.

Schmitt J. (2015b). Can’t Disrupt This: Elsevier and the 25.2 Billion Dollar A Year Academic Publishing Business. Medium, December 22.

Sci-Hub (on Wikipedia).


Smith R. (2006). Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 99 (4), 178‒182.

Tracz V. (2015). The five deadly sins of science publishing. F1000Research 4, 112. DOI:

Tracz V, Lawrence R. (2016). Towards an open science publishing platform. F1000Research 5, 130.

Ware M, Mabe M. (2015). The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly publishing. 4th ed.

White M. (2014). Scientific publishing is killing science. Here’s how to fix it. Pacific Standard, February 28.

Wijnhoven BPL, Dejong CHC. (2010). Fate of manuscripts declined by the British Journal of Surgery. Br J Surg 97 (3), 450-454.




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Steinar Risnes

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.