|This week's cover of The Economist.|
I argued earlier that, irrespective of what you think about this, it's going to happen. You just have to extrapolate the present situation: There is a lot of anger among scientists about publishers who charge high subscription fees. And while I know some tenured people who simply don't bother with journal publication any more and just upload their papers to the arXiv, most scientists need the approval stamp that a journal publication presently provides: it shows that peer review has taken place. The easiest way to break this dependence on journals is to offer peer review by other means. This will make the peer review process more to the point and more effective.
The benefit of this change over other, more radical, changes that have been proposed is that it stays very close to the present model in that the procedure of peer review itself need not be changed. It's just the provider that changes.
I am thus really excited that the recent issue of Nature reports that one such service exists now and another one is about to be created:
- Company offers portable peer review
Author-pays service cuts down on redundant reviews.
By Richard Van Noorden
Of course it's difficult to say whether such a change will catch on. Academia has a large inertia, and it depends a lot on whether people will accept independent reviews. But I am confident, so let me make a prediction, just for the fun of it: In 5 years there will be a dozen of such services, some run by publishers. In ten years, most of peer review will take place this way.