Fabio Casati and his collaborators at LiquidPublication, an EU-financed research project, want to change how you do science.  Namely by allowing you to do more of it, instead of sifting through journals.

“The more papers you produce, the more brownie points you get,” says Casati. “So most of your time is spent writing papers instead of thinking or doing science.”

But publication is 'where the Cadillacs are' to paraphrase a famous baseball saying.   Or is it?  They rightly note that arXiv has been around since 1991 and, while it has criticisms endemic to any successful enterprise, its value to physicists and mathematicians has been tremendous.

Likewise, LiquidPublication wants to jumpstart the science discussion in other areas, but with a twist.  Casati believes peer review is a costly process so gatekeepers, journals most often, were necessary.   The web can be the effective gatekeeper, Casati believes.  And it can even include blogs.

“We’ve studied this and found that peer review doesn’t work, in the sense that there seems to be very little correlation between the judgement of peer reviewers and the fate of a paper after publication.  Many papers get very high marks from their peer reviewers but have little effect on the field. And on the other hand, many papers get average ratings but have a big impact.”

Their 'liquid' approach would replace typical peer review, where three (or at some online journals, none, just an editor and a paid fee) reviewers determine the fate of a study, wherein the commentary provided by the online community is peer review as the work is modified and revised in real time.    Does that work?  Of course it works, we do it here every day.  Quality content rises above the 'noise'.  But supplanting peer review is another animal entirely.

But Casati believes their method will work in place of traditional peer review and also eliminates distortion in citations - where reviewers might kick back a paper for not having citations they like (such as their own work) or where citations are included even if they haven't been read, skewing results.

Because other works could include the new results, citations would be more meaningful and immediate - not a good thing if your publications promotes its Impact Factor but fine for researchers.   Another interesting hook - “Experiments, datasets, and even blogs can be first-class citizens in the work of science,” Casati says.

Blogs included as citations?  Why not?    The grand Science 2.0 experiment is open to a lot of new ideas and I just got done writing that open access publishing was not going anywhere new and I stumble across this gem of an implementation.

Their first effort is an open source software platform and their own liquid journal is on ... peer review.

More collaboration, less hassle for people trying to peer review work and scientists having more time to do science?   I can't find a downside to this.

How to participate
Development code location
Liquid documents and analysis