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Science Communication: Quality at Stake

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Science  06 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6163, pp. 1169
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6163.1169-a

The ferment in the scientific publishing world was nicely illuminated in J. Bohannon's News story “Who's afraid of peer review?” (special section on Communication in Science, 4 October, p. 60). Bohannon revealed how the open-access (OA) movement may have had the unintended consequence of undermining quality peer review. The proliferation of certain OA journals that publish as many papers as possible to maximize their revenue has led to the publication of much mediocre science; it has also led to increased competition for the best papers, weakening established journals published by scientific societies, which insist on rigorous peer review. The traditional subscription-based model for financing scientific journals had the advantage of incentivizing quality: Why would a subscriber want to pay for a journal that publishes junk science?

We fully support open access. The public should have access to the science that its tax dollars fund. But it is equally important to assure quality control and to develop a new financial model that does not place the full OA page charge burden on authors.

  • Editor in Chief, Biophysical Journal

  • Chair, Biophysical Society Publications Committee

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