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Okay, so where's the Reddit/Digg for scientific research papers and articles? There could be some sort of "dual voting system" where against each article two vote counts are maintained -- one set of votes by the editorial team ("peer review") and the other set of votes by the community at large.

The editorial team could be selected through a semi-democratic process, if required.

Is it that tough? How many big names in science are required to pull this through? The technology is dead-simple - the main problem is to cross the critical threshold of number of articles submitted and number of editors.

The technology isn't the hurdle here, it's the prestige. The academic publishing world is all about who you are, what institutes you belong to, etc. To put it bluntly, a Reddit-like journal site just wouldn't have enough "cred" to attract decent content.

Indeed, get someone like MIT to do an OpenJournal to complement the rest of their OpenX initiatives and you might start getting buy-in.

The problem is that the system is broken - publish n papers => you're better than before (ignoring the content of the papers of course). Academics are encouraged to publish (and re-publish older stuff with a slight tweak) to meet publishing 'targets' handed down by government.

This model feeds into the Elsiver etc closed publishing as academics are forced to compete to earn their stripes - so now we have a model that encourages re-publishing crap and then locking it behind a paywall, but when I ask PhDs if they think this is fine, they don't see the problem :(

As part of their "publishing targets", does the government mandate the exact journals, or type of journals, in which papers need to be published?

Are these journals explicitly named, or is there a criteria they need to satisfy to be eligible?

There's http://www.peerageofscience.org/ which is trying to fix the problem of peer-review quality and speed: instead of submitting to a sequence of journals and waiting for reviews from each one before you can submit to the next one, you would first get your paper properly reviewed and then offer it to journal editors. There would be some kind of peer control of review quality, so reviewers would have an incentive to do a good job.

That company is explicitly not trying to do anything about evil publishing houses, but if it takes off, it will move one part of the publishing process out of the control of publishers, into the hands of scientists. If reviews through this system get to be known for high quality, then maybe a good review from them for your open-access paper will be more prestigious than getting it published in an Elsevier journal.

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