Octopus aims to grasp ‘publishing revolution science needs’

A planned analysis publishing system aims to enable generate a “revolution” in science and “increase meritocracy” by disrupting a hierarchy exactly where “gatekeepers” of substantial groups can block profession development.

Octopus, billed as a “fast, free and fair” replacement for journal and paper publication, will acquire £650,000 about a few a long time from Analysis England, allowing it to progress from “prototype” to comprehensive launch in spring 2022.

The system is described as allowing for researchers to publish “what you do when you do it” by its creator, Alex Freeman, who is government director of the Winton Centre for Threat and Evidence at the University of Cambridge and a previous producer of science and historical past programmes at the BBC, where she created documentaries with figures like Sir David Attenborough.

Dr Freeman mentioned that when she returned to academia just after leaving the BBC, she was “slightly shocked” at the strategy to publishing, viewing colleagues staying “assessed and judged on particularly the similar forms of metrics as we would be in the media: how quite a few people read through us, how a lot of men and women adhere to us or forward us, or like [our research] or cite it. Those are not essentially the proper metrics for judging science – it is basically judging someone’s storytelling potential.”

She also argued that the pandemic experienced confirmed the have to have to bypass journals with speedy, open, absolutely free publication, a need that would stay similarly urgent article-pandemic: “Why ought to a breast most cancers affected individual wait around 3 years for some research to be released?”

In contrast to classic journal content articles, Octopus will divide investigation initiatives into 8 things: issue, hypothesis/rationale, techniques/protocol, info/benefits, analysis, interpretation, serious-earth implementation, and peer review. These factors can then be linked alongside one another to sort “chains” of collaborative operate.

Dr Freeman acknowledged that acquiring academics to shift absent from journal publication was a “big ask”. But she prompt that mainly because Octopus – a not-for-revenue local community desire enterprise – will pull in existing open up access papers and team them by investigation trouble, it will come to be a “useful place to discover investigation, then rate it and evaluation it. After you’ve received into that pattern and you are receiving credit for individuals critiques – they are showing on your profile – it then makes perception to publish, immediately and easily, these small publications that are about your unique research…I assume it can snowball fairly promptly.”

Dr Freeman hoped Octopus could help “get back again to smaller sized creator teams or single author publications, which not only makes things much more obtainable – whatever your means you can continue to publish – it means we can maximize meritocracy”.

It would, she argued, lessen hierarchy and take away from the equation “gatekeepers” of big investigation teams who “hold the reins of your occupation by staying the man or woman who is in charge of deciding the author list or acquiring the funding…Who you know governing your career is not a fantastic system.”

But, without pre-publication peer review won’t the high-quality be considerably lessen than that of orthodox journals?

“Yes, there is heading to be weak high-quality publication in there, as there is despatched to each individual journal just about every day,” replied Dr Freeman. But she argued that a write-up-publication ranking and reviewing technique joined to profiles would suggest that “if you’re publishing improperly rated stuff that will glance bad…You will want to publish your best stuff.”

Some will be sceptical of the notion of a consumer evaluate-driven system for investigation – and of the scope to problem orthodox publication society. But Dr Freeman said: “Think of what took place when Spotify arrives out or whatsoever. Revolutions can occur pretty quickly in any lifestyle and I assume the scientific world is ripe for it.”

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