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Turning the publication process on its head

Boy draws with a brush a big light bulb. Concept of innovation and creativity

History has shaped the format of scientific publishing, with the process of manuscript submission to the journal of choice, peer review and acceptance (or rejection, and a repeat of the cycle) being the norm. Unfortunately, this process can result in significant delays to publication. In an article for Times Higher Education, Professor Hilal Lashuel and Benjamin Stecher propose a system that would turn this publishing model on its head.

Lashuel and Stecher suggest a role reversal, with authors sharing their research publicly and journal editors competing to publish it.

Under their proposal, the article would remain open post-publication, allowing authors to update their work as the research continues. Lashuel and Stecher acknowledge that the increasing popularity of preprints signals that a shift in this direction is starting to happen, but feel that there is more to do. They highlight the following:

  • Articles should be indexed and retrievable via a single open database to allow all within the scientific community to provide feedback – although incentives and cultural change may be needed to encourage full engagement with this process.
  • A dynamic publication system would enable authors to easily correct or improve their data, while tracking contributions could facilitate authors being rewarded for this typically unpublished work.
  • Investment is required to deliver long-term sustainability of repositories.

Meanwhile, some journals have adopted processes which synergise with existing preprint activities. Some have looked to preprint servers to source content, while eLife is among those who have taken this relationship a step further. The journal has been trialling ‘Preprint Review’, where preprints posted on bioRxiv are reviewed and considered for publication in eLife in parallel. Under the initiative, review reports tailored to the interests of readers, rather than authors, are posted on bioRxiv via their Transparent Review in Preprints service, aiming to make the peer review process more valuable across the scientific community. With such initiatives and proposals being introduced, it is clear that the medical publishing landscape is changing – we look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve.


Summary by Jo Chapman PhD from Aspire Scientific


With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd

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