While we talk about the future of science publishing, we need to also have a conversation about how to fund it. The problems with the subscription model is obvious and needs no elaboration. But it's clear that the APC/author pays model doesn't really work either.
Back at the dawn of the #openaccess era, when @BioMedCentral and @PLOS adopted APCs, we knew it was imperfect, but it was the only viable way to cover costs that didn't require locking papers behind paywalls.
It was our expectation that this was a transitional state - that the funders who ultimately provide the money for science publishing would realize that it doesn't make sense to fund research infrastructure like publishing with transaction fees of any kind.
Funding journals via subscriptions requires paywalls and excludes readers. Funding journals via APCs encourages high volumes, and erects barriers at the point of publication (although these are generally mitigated, albeit imperfectly, with discounts and waivers).
And you can see an additional problem with APCs in the new initiatives @eLife is taking. If our primary job is to review papers, and not publish them, then it makes no sense for authors to pay only if we accept their paper.
In principle we could move to charging for review, and there are some good arguments for doing this. But I don't think this is optimal either. To me it ultimately makes far more sense to dispense with the conceptualization that science publishing is a bottom line business.
The reality is that science communication is research infrastructure - more like a genome database that a reagent supplier - and it would be better for science in a million ways if the funders who sponsor research recognized this and develop a way to directly subsidize publishing
For example, right now it's free for authors to post papers on @biorxivpreprint because @cziscience and @CSHL subsidize the process. This is how it should be! It would be counterproductive if people had to pay to post preprints - even if the fee were nominal.
The same thing should be true of peer review. This is critical research infrastructure, and for far too long we have let the goals of the marketplace dictate how peer review should be organized and funded. And the net result is a system that costs us $10b/year and doesn't work.
I'm not sure exactly how we should structure a subsidy the system so that it's fair, efficient and encourages good service and innovation. But I know that neither subscriptions nor APCs do that, and it's time for us to figure out a better way.

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More from @mbeisen

1 Dec
I am excited to announce today that @eLife is transitioning to a new model based on author-driven publishing (preprints) and public post-publication peer review and curation elifesciences.org/articles/64910…
Our moves are designed to catalyze the desperately needed transition of science from the slow, exclusive, and expensive "review then publish" model born with the printing press to a "publish then review" model optimized for the Internet.
We have been inspired by the embrace of preprinting by our community. A recent internet audit showed that the authors of 70% of papers under review @eLife had already published their work on @biorxivpreprint @medrxivpreprint or arXiv.
Read 17 tweets
19 Nov
Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine
I’m begging of you take it when you can
Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine
Please take it just because you can
COVID symptoms often lead to death
With flaming head and no more breath
With pallid skin and loss of taste and smell.
It shut down schools and businesses
And made us all social distance
But it cannot compete with my
Just two small shots of RNA
Will keep this bad virus at bay
Thanks to the scientists for making this
Read 7 tweets
3 Sep
Like many people, I've been thinking a lot about the Electoral College, and more specifically the "National Popular Vote" movement, and a disturbing/terrifying idea occurred to me.
For those who don't know, there is an ongoing effort to getting states to agree to allocate their electors to the winner of the national popular vote provided that enough other states agree to ensure the NPV winner would get the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
I like the approach of hacking the Electoral College, since actually eliminating it would require a constitutional amendment that would be much more difficult to pass. But it is probably doomed to failure since there is not a good incentive for enough states to sign on.
Read 18 tweets
6 Aug
as much as I and probably most other people want to move on from the BAM/SB affair, i feel like I as an individual, and many of us as a community, haven't fully reckoned with what happened, or more significantly why it happened, and what our roles in it were
so as not to bury the lead - I fucked up - and owe both an apology, and more importantly an accounting of what happened and a promise to not do so again, to the many people BAM has bullied, gaslit and undermined the past several years
the fuckup is not by falling for SB's grift - it was well crafted and targeted instincts of mine that i don't think are bad - but rather having played a part in conferring a sense of continued legitimacy on BAM - a legitimacy she abused in myriad destructive ways
Read 19 tweets
19 Jul
The media are, rightly, taking a lot of heat for spreading false fears about COVID-19 immunity. But's its worth tracing the origins of this particular case back to where it starts.
The article that prompted this discussion was pegged to a @medrxivpreprint paper from researchers at King's College who monitored neutralizing antibodies to COVID-19 in 65 patient in the three months following symptom onset. medrxiv.org/content/10.110…
The raw data are pretty simple. Most of the people in the study (95%) produced a high titer of neutralizing antibodies, with the titer declining after a peak around 21 days post onset of symptoms, with a lot of inter-individual variation in magnitude of response and kinetics.
Read 25 tweets
13 Jul
Since the dawn of the Internet, it has been clear that we need and have the opportunity to build a system of scholarly communication free of limitations of print: a system freely accessible to all authors and readers with a new model of peer review optimized for a digital age
The ideal system would feature: 1) universal author-driven publication (currently known as preprints) as the primary means of communication, 2) robust and multi-faceted post-publication peer review and curation, and 3) direct funding to eliminate all paywalls & transaction costs
This is, and has been, technologically feasible for a quarter century. There has been progress towards this goal in various places - expansion of preprint servers, growth of #openaccess, funder mandates, creation of overlay journals. But progress has been frustratingly slow.
Read 15 tweets

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