Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Ecosystem of Scholarly Publishing

"Scholarly publishing in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology [EEB] is largely limited to a single species of product, the narrative paper. This monoculture of scholarly production is curious, particularly given that an entire subfield of ecology is devoted to the demonstration that diversity can lead to higher levels of function in the world’s ecosystems. The narrative paper artifact is a product of print publication, and is increasingly seen as only one vehicle for science knowledge and practice to emerge in a digital world. ... It is time for EEB to move beyond the devaluation of a alternative types of scholarly product and embrace the larger ecosystem of scholarly products."

Byrnes et al. (2013) The four pillars of scholarly publishing: The future and a foundation. PeerJ PrePrints 1:e11v1
With the rise of electronic publishing and the inherent paradigm shifts for so many other scientific endeavours, it is time to consider a change in the practices of scholarly publication in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. To facilitate the speed and quality of science, the future of scholarly communication will rest on four pillars - an ecosystem of scholarly products, immediate and open access, open peer review, and full recognition for participating in the process. These four pillars enable us to build better tools to facilitate the discovery of new relevant work for individual scientists, one of the greatest challenges of our time as we cope with the current deluge of scientific information. By incorporating these principles into future publication platforms, we argue that science and society will be better served than by remaining locked into a publication formula that arose in the 1600s. It has served its purpose admirably and well, but it is time to move forward. With the rise of the Internet, scholarly publishing has embraced electronic distribution. But the tools afforded by the Internet and other advancing technologies have profound implications for scholarly communication beyond just distribution. We argue that, to best serve science, the process of scholarly communication must embrace these advances and evolve. Here we consider the current state of the process in ecology and evolutionary biology and propose directions for change. We identify four pillars for the future of scientific communication: (1) an ecosystem of scholarly products; (2) immediate and open access; (3) open peer review; and (4) full recognition for participating in the process. These four pillars will guide the development of better tools and practices for discovering and sharing scientific knowledge in a modern networked world. Things were far different when the existing system arose in the 1600s, and though it has served its purpose admirably and well, it is time to move forward.
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