While the current scientific publishing industry is one of the most lucrative worldwide, the current scholarly publication process has several problems that affect the research community, such as high publication costs, copyrights held by publishers instead of authors, biased publication and peer review processes, lack of rewards and recognition for reviewers, and a proliferation of low-quality journals. Blockchain can eliminate market inefficiencies and improve the quality and effectiveness of scientific publishing. Through the utilisation of smart contracts, decentralised storage solutions, big data analytics, and cloud computing, blockchain technology can be harnessed to greatly accelerate the peer review process and usher in a new era of transparency and efficiency for the sector.
College costs are getting too high. Benefits are falling relative to costs. Higher education is a labour-intensive enterprise, and cost savings have to come by lowering labour expenses. While a huge hunk of that involves curtaining the burgeoning administrative bloat, a more healthy balance of teaching and research responsibilities probably is in order. A majority of academic journal articles are never read, but many journal articles are rarely cited. And some academic journals have circulations of well under 1,000, many copies sitting unread on library shelves.
While a handful of journals occasionally pay their referees a small honorarium in return for their service, this is by no means the norm. It is also not a viable solution. Open peer-review promises a more constructive and transparent dialogue among scientists, and constructive criticism if published would be a valuable addition to the literature. However, any attempt to radically change the nature of peer-review must necessarily be accompanied by a change in the way the referees are compensated for their time and effort, especially within academia. For example, opening up the review process allows for the possibility of referee reports being indexed and cited, so that a scientist who writes an insightful review is rewarded professionally for their work. Author-level metrics that measure the productivity of a researcher often factor into decisions about hiring, grant approval and promotions, and these might also be adapted to include scientific contributions in the form of referee reports.
The world of scholarly communication is broken. All of the technology and traits to build a hybridised scholarly commons infrastructure already exists. It is up to academic communities themselves to step away from their apathy and toward a fairer and more democratic system for sharing the knowledge and work. The question of publishing reform is not theoretically or conceptually complex. The future of scholarly communication depends more on overcoming social tensions and the training to defer to a powerful system embedded in global research cultures than on breaking down technological barriers.
Over three quarters of published journal articles are locked behind a paywall of some sort, and fees can approach £25,000 for the very largest journals if libraries fail to purchase subscriptions of bundled titles, which can cost millions. The problem exacerbates in the developing world, where penurious institutions can afford only a small fraction of the access they really require, severely limiting both students and researchers. Budgets are pillaged to provide access to just a glimpse of cutting-edge research. These universities have little choice in the matter: scientific papers, tending to be highly individual pieces, cannot be easily substituted. When libraries cannot pay, bizarre situations arise.