Recently, I’ve found several blogposts and papers writing about the future of medical journalism, the problem of open access. I’d like to spread the word about a new system in medical journalism where the scientific community decides about the fate of a submitted article. First, some words about the impact factor. Sciencesque had an interesing post about how impact factor is calculated and why we should follow the newly proposed system of PLos One.
In a radical move, PLoS One has proposed to publish any paper that is technically sound, and let the scientific community submit comments about the paper after it has been published… As it stands now, there are but two things between you and a published paper: reviewer#1 and reviewer#2. No matter how good or bad your research is, those two people have the power to accept or reject your paper, and there is very little you can do if the decision doesn’t go your way.
So how could we describe a better future of medical journalism? If you submit an article, then not two reviewers should decide about it’s importance but the medical, scientific community. It wouldn’t work like digg.com or reddit.com, but by citing the article. The more times an article is cited, the more impact factors it has.
According to the PLoS One page:
PLoS ONE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication from the Public Library of Science (PLoS). PLoS ONE welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline.
Each submission will be assessed by a member of the PLoS ONE Editorial Board before publication. This pre-publication peer review will concentrate on technical rather than subjective concerns.
All works published in PLoS journals are open access, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Everything is immediately available online without cost to anyone…
So not some reviewers will decide about the fate of the article and the whole procedure is free and available to everyone. So far, the system has been like that: if you wanted to publish your paper, you needed publishable results which didn’t absolutely need to be valuable (What I mean is that for scientific papers, being measured by editors of scientific journals does not and can not well approximate and represent the ability to help scientific progress.). With this new system, if your results are not enough valuable, no one will cite your article.
PLoS One makes it possible to add and share your comments, to join the discussions on the guidelines and articles or to explore by subject. Take a look at the blogs, subscribe to the RSS feeds and spread the word!
I believe that the future of medical journalism belongs to them. Now, I joined their community, subscribed to the feed of newly added articles on genetics and medicine and will let you know when I find something interesting or important.