Blogs are generally seen as a slightly dubious part of the scientific publishing landscape. This is not, of course, unreasonable. I put stuff up here, for example, such as my idea for IDs that I’ve thought about for a few days, but that I am unlikely to follow any further, or stuff opinion pieces on bees about which I have as little expertise as the average journalist.

Fundamentally, though, despite it’s current use, a blog is just a media channel; you can use them to transfer anything you like. A scientific paper, for instance. This might be useful. While, for instance, I love open access publication, it’s quite expensive particularly as the cash tends to come out of my own budget, at least until I can get the library to pay.

So, I’ve been thinking about a cheap and cheerful blog-based system. It would work like this. The author would simply publish their paper onto their own blog. Next, they would send a request (using one of these pingback or trackback thingies that I haven’t worked out yet) to a “journal” which would also be a blog, in this case a private one. The editor would then invite comments from willing reviewers using same technique. Reviewers could then read the blog post, comment on it using their own blog. After the normal revision cycle, the editor would make a decision. If it was accepted, the authors blog post would be linked from the journals main feed (probably grabbing an archival copy at the same time). If it was not accepted, the author could try another journal, this time with initial reviews in-hand; the process would not beed to be reiterated.

This would have several advantages over the current system. Formatting and presentational problems would disappear because they would be controlled by the authors. Prepublication would become unnecessary, because submission and publication would become the same thing. The role of the journal would be limited to what they are best at; getting reviewers in and rubber stamping a seal of approval on worthy papers. Finally, the tireless work of reviewers would be publically acknowledged; their own blogs would have a record of every review that they have ever done.

All the technology for this already exists; it just needs some social conventions layering on top.

One Comment

  1. Duncan Hull says:

    Interesting idea, the “social conventions” is the hardest part of this problem though. You can find out all about “pingback or trackback thingies that I haven’t worked out yet” thanks to wikipedia…

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