25 February 2016
Mission creep in scientific publishing
Sometimes, it feels like every proposed reform of scientific publishing involves me doing more work.
There’s significant mission creep in the checklist of disseminating scientific information. While “publish” is necessary to avoid “perish,” it is no longer sufficient. It’s “Be visible, or vanish.” And visibility requires work.
When I was in grad school, I had to write a paper and publish it.
Now, people are suggesting that I also pre-register my experiments; curate and upload all my raw data (which may be in non-standard or proprietary formats); deposit pre-prints; publish the actual paper in a peer-reviewed journal (because that’s not going away); promote it through social media; upload it into sites like Academia.edu or ResearchGate; update my publication information in databases like ORCID, ImpactStory, and institutional measures; and watch for comments on post-publication peer review sites like PubPeer and engage with them as necessary.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Those are good things to do. Individually, each one has a solid rationale. But I don’t have an army of students, or post-docs, or administrative assistants to help with any of that. It’s all me. The cumulative effect could be draining.
My approach has been to do these things when the time cost is expected to be fairly minimal. I’ve put data up for many of my papers on Figshare... usually based on whether it was already in a spreadsheet. Converting a megabytes, if not gigabytes, of physiological recordings to some sort of interoperable standard? Nope.
Similarly, after the #ASAPbio meeting, I voted “No” to a Twitter poll asking if I would commit to posting my “best” science as pre-prints. I’ll do it if it makes sense for the project (timeliness of information is important, say).
Are you an ‘academic superhero’?