Ben Broomfield / The Guardian
Hard Science

Free Science: A New Company is Making Peer Review Science Free For Everyone

Democratization of science can only help pollinate the hive mind of humanity.

Jess VilvestreNovember 29th 2016

The Science World’s Culture of Prestige

Access to knowledge is the best tool we have to solve all of the world’s greatest and most mysterious questions. In the scientific academe, everyone covets a publication in prominent journals like Cell, Natureor Science. However, prestige is hard to come by—these journals typically accept only 5 to 10 percent of submitted work.

ScienceMatters is a science publishing company that aims to change the perspective on scientific research by providing a more democratized platform.

The founders criticize top journals for only taking more alluring work. Lawrence Rajendran, founder and CEO of ScienceMatters, said that this criteria for acceptance makes “competition for space is extremely high so there needs to be that wow factor.” Many scientists craft their work specifically to please journal editors, in order to attain the most citations. Stacking of citations is often the basis of hiring and promoting researchers, which developers consider to be unjust.

Science for Everybody

The journal’s acceptance criteria is more general. As long as the topic has a solid foundation in science and concrete evidence, their anonymous panel of editors take in the work. The developers behind the publication desire to drive scientific research back to a joy of curiosity and discovery, instead of the mere glorification of big names and citations.

“[The] publish or perish culture instills a hostile scientific environment, pressuring young researchers to outperform their peers, which can lead to data fraud,” Rajendran explained.

Other open-access peer review platforms also aim to deviate from a culture of prestige in the science world, including eLife and Frontiers. These open-access platforms are arms reaching out encouraging more minds to keep learning and innovating. There’s always something new to discover, always another problem to solve, all we have to do is reach for the right tools.

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