Sunday, February 5, 2012

Occupy Publishing

There's been a bit of discussion on Google+ (John Baez - Jan 30, 2012) on the future of costly scientific journals. As print fades into history, there is no reason why scientists cannot have a system where their so-called pre-publications (e.g. on, a current source for many of these) can be reviewed, and with revisions acceptable to a peer community be qualified as being designated as published. continues as it is and some group (completely independent of that accomplishes the intended goal of reviewing the articles When an article on gets a pass from scientific peer community, it's designated aspublished.

(The problem, as has been pointed out, is for some group to actually go and create

What would be the result? A free and open article submission and access system as it exists now ( and a independent review system (

Update (2012-02-02): Looks like the site has been created.
Created On: 02-Feb-2012 03:35:26 UTC

(There's also a Google+ Page: +ArXiv Review)

The first step is to provide a Primer and Goals and Mission Statement for the site (along the lines of

Here is a start: 

arXiv-Review is an openly accessible, moderated forum for commenting on and reviewing articles. (For information about arXiv, see To provide for this, each article submitted to arXiv can potentially have a review thread in arXiv-Review for comments and reviews. 

Each review thread in arXiv-Review is identified by following the same reference scheme described For example, corresponding to arXiv:math/9910001v1 <> is a potential review thread arXiv-Review:math/9910001v1 <>.

Browsing arXiv-Review is open to everyone (the "readers"). Those who comment on and review articles (the "reviewers") must register on arXiv-Review. In addition, a reviewer may be a member of a select "board" (TBD) on arXiv-Review (and this identification will indicated). 

arXiv-Review system for evaluating arXiv articles: TBD.

arXiv-Review sponsors and operators: TBD!

1. See also: Proposal for A New Publishing Model in Computer Science, Yann LeCun.
2. Elsevier's Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke - Forbes. Remarks on Google+: John Baez - Feb 1, 2012 

From Occupy Publishing.


  1. I did some research on academic publishing last term. As noted above, the definitions of peer review are shifting, which has implications for scholarship and tenure, etc. Kathleen Fitzpatrick is press editor of the Media Commons and on leave from on leave from Pomona College where she is a Professor of Media Studies. She argues that online publishing introduces more scrutiny and rigor than traditional publishing. Most academic monographs, she says, are reviewed by three people before being published and sell 300 to 400 copies, many of which are placed in libraries and never checked out. Putting monographs online for comment allows more voices into the discussion. She also adds that the definition of academic work may need to change to take into account the editing and curation work being done to capture online scholarship.

    You can listen to her on this podcast:

    As well, she walked the talk and opened up her last book to comment. You can see how she did it at this link.

  2. I wonder if the same model that is in place to review articles in print academic journals would be in place for an online journal. From the description, it sounds like anyone could review an article (if everyone can see them).

    I would think that the same motivators to do the review work would not be there - unless there is an editor or group of respected academics to do the reviews and accept a paper into the online journal. The academics would have to be paid and/or associated with the journal (whatever the practice is now).

    Think of Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia. When he tried to do an online version of an encyclopedia of expert-created and reviewed articles, it didn't work. There were too many barriers compared to the Wikipedia model that made it sooooo easy - the drawback of course was source of the articles - self-proclaimed experts.

    So I think you either have to retain the old model and just publish online or you have to take it away and have self-proclaimed experts - which really defeats the purpose in this case.