Katie M. Palmer at Wired.com writes about a recent push to make publishing exciting again.
Important biological discoveries have arrived with the same old-fashioned fanfare for the last three centuries. After months, maybe years of research, a paper will wind its way through the peer review process and land in the pages of (hopefully) a high tier journal: a Nature, a Science, a Cell. Picturing those finalized figures under a glossy cover is enough to set a postdoc’s heart aflutter.
But if it were up to biologists Michael Eisen and Leslie Vosshall, they’d celebrate a paper’s release with a PDF and a rainbow unicorn.
Biologists, publishers, and science funders gathered at a meeting last week in Maryland at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to talk about how to improve the centuries-old tradition of slow, careful peer-reviewed science publishing. The ASAPbio meeting focused on bringing that process into the Internet age by releasing papers as preprints, skipping over the review process to get research out faster—just as fields like physics already do. And yes, Eisen and Vosshall were promising rainbow unicorn T-shirts to people who took the opportunity to submit their first preprints.
Print journals used to be the only way to share new science. But today, scientists communicate much more rapidly—and directly—than before. “Something’s changed,” says Eisen, who runs a lab at the University of California, Berkeley. “People live on the Internet now. We have senior scientists who are all on Twitter. It just doesn’t make sense that we don’t publish our work immediately.”