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Science magazine section

"Scientific Communication", October 4, 2013

Just in time for Open Access Week later this month (October 21-25), Science has published a section on scientific publishing, a topic regarding which they surely are not unbiased.

I love the infographic,  The Rise of Open Access, by Randall Monroe of xkcd fame which claims that new scientific papers are published at an accelerating rate, currently about one every 20 seconds, and that since 2011, half of new papers are open access. That part of the article comes from an article by Jocelyn Kaiser in another issue of Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6148.830).

There are other worthy pieces in this section, but the one that got my goat was a piece by John Bohannon, "Who's Afraid of Peer Review", an account of his sting operation, sending a scam article to a large number of open access journals to see which of them would catch its problems in their peer review systems. He made some valid points, but overall, I think the project was flawed by not including non-open access journals. The inferences drawn by him and others (see/hear the report on NPR) make it seem like the problems arise from open access rather than from poor peer review. Other bloggers  have written more articulate posts about the shortcomings (see Peter Suber's or Michael Eisen's).

Science is hosting a live chat session on this issue with the article's author and several others including Eisen, on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 3pm EDT.