Decentralizing scientific publishing: can the blockchain improve science communication?

We present a decentralized solution for managing scientific communication based on distributed ledger technologies also called Blockchains.The proposed system aims at solving the incentive problems displayed by traditional systems for scientific communication and publication. A minimal working model is presented defining roles, processes and expected results from the novel system. The proposed solution is viable given the current status of blockchain technology and should lead to a rethink of current practices and their consequences to scientific communication.

The current model of scientific publishing is in crisis (De Wit, Altbach, & Leask, 2018; Horton, 2016). Even without looking at the numbers, just realizing that the two most essential elements of the system, the author and the reviewer, work for free, gives us the justified impression that this is not a stable or sustainable model. To be fair, the authors do derive value from publishing: their own reputations and incentives from employers by using this publishing model intensively. But the price they pay for it seems unreasonably high.

These imbalances led to the current situation where a number of competing models have emerged, each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. They fall within three main categories:

Traditional Closed Access: free to publish but access only by subscription.

“Gold” Open-access: free access to article content, author pays to publish.

Delayed Open-Access: published articles accessible only after an embargo period.

Beyond these main models there are hybrid journals where authors can choose between models and self-archiving and preprint servers whose models don’t aim to replace peer-reviewed publication. For a detailed view of the open access terminology: https://www.plos.org/how-open-is-it.

In this article, we consider that the ideal open access model is based on two main features: 1) no economic barriers to either reading or writing of scientific publications, and 2) that reviewers and authors are properly incentivized to play their parts in the system. Since someone must pay the costs on any business model, we propose a blockchain-based system in which everyone gets rewarded in proportion to the value they provide. [+] read more 

 

 

Flávio Codeço Coelho, Adeilton Brandão

Articles that will be published in the next issue Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Please be advised that the assigned DOI numbers for each manuscript are preliminary records not yet registered in Crossref. If the manuscript is accepted for publication by MIOC, the DOI number will be processed by SciELO in Crossrefon publication.

Since the beginning of the Zika Epidemics in Brazil, the Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz launched the Fast Track system, in alignment with the call for data sharing in public health emergencies made by the WHO.

MIOC has thus published papers related to the Zika epidemics and expanded the section as to include also articles related to Chikungunya and Yellow Fever. The immediate response and adherence of the scientific community to this call strengthens the idea that open science is becoming part of the publication pathway and crucial for the fast data sharing amongst the researchers and results are made fully available for decision-makers. Now, Ebola cases are arising again, and a new outbreak was recently detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo. MIOC is supported by Fiocruz, which is also a petitioner of the 2016 joint statement relating to the sharing of data of public health emergencies, is now including Ebola in the Fast Track section.

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