From Lemons to Lemonade — The Evolution of Open Access Publishing

When it comes to the production and publication of scientific study, we know two things to be true—there can be no substitute for properly researched, peer-reviewed, and ethically adherent papers; and Open Access is here to stay. There are many in the debate over the present state and future playing field of scientific journal publishing that would tell you that these two truths are mutually exclusive. After thirty plus years in scientific research, education, and consulting, we can tell you with utter assurance that they are not.

In the past few years, we’ve heard the Open Access movement referred to as the “wild west,” and as a “den of predators,” among other colorful epithets. At times, and in certain quarters, these are inarguably earned descriptors. The necessary unlocking of scientific reach and research has opened the floodgates for hucksters and conmen in both academic publishing and conferences from around the world. But the push for greater transparency and access to research has also opened the avenues of learning for countless scientists who had been disenfranchised and discarded based solely on their economic standing or country of practice. Now, and moving forward, anyone who has that brilliant idea might also have the opportunity to lend his or her voice to our mutual quest for knowledge.

So, what’s next? We’ve already seen the inevitable and necessary beginning of the crackdown on unethical practice in our field. This can and should continue as we mutually reach for a universal set of standards that begins to hold Open Access publishers to the same rigorous ethical codes as traditional publishers. We see the purpose of labeling certain journals and publishers as predatory, but see also that there are many journals and publishers that are learning and evolving as they grow. Some would strive for ethical practice if they could be shown the way, and the greater scientific community must be willing to give them a chance — if they’re openly committed to operating ethically — to earn their place among the hosts of respectable standards in research.

We believe that the “wild west” must be tamed, but that the vital resources that have been uncovered in that exploration can and will bring far more good than harm to our mutual endeavors. Out of yesterday’s manure grows today’s flowers…

The siloes of labs, universities, countries, and disciplines have begun to fall away as collaboration in study increasingly transcends the boundaries that historically stand between us.

After thirty years of our own research, teaching, and best practices consulting, and with the next thirty years in mind, we at Pro-Cure Health Design are excited and ready to do our part to help usher in the new era of scientific publication and partnership.