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The spirit of the San Francisco DORA in scientific meetings

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) advocates for avoiding the use of journal impact factors in evaluations of scientists and their contributions. I very much agree with the idea, and so do the many signatories of the declaration, both personal and institutional. Impact-factor fascination syndrome (IFFS, the very thing DORA wants to counter) is however spreading and thriving in the research community. I would propose to extend the spirit of DORA to scientific meetings: Speakers in adhering research meetings should avoid quoting journal names in what they show . Nowadays, the names of one or two authors and the year should suffice to find any paper, if there is no arXiv reference for instance. It sounds sensible that when speakers describe their work, they show the reference of where to find the relevant publication. But we all know that showing references to high-impact-factor journals is used to impress the audience (not to mention journal covers), and I can
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Research antiefficiency principle

It is an intriguing thought (and admittedly a provocative way to put it). University funding in the USA, UK and other research-powerful countries is partly based on grant overheads. That is, funds payed by research agencies to the research institutions, beyond the direct costs of the research itself, to cover for a proportional part of the costs of running the institutions themselves. Sensible. Overheads do represent a significant part of institutional income. It makes sense in many ways, but, in essence, it leads to the antiefficiency principle: Since overheads scale with the direct research costs, universities and research institutions, more or less directly, tell their research staff: "do your best, for as much money as possible". The title of this post is provocative because the quoted statement above is not as antiefficient as it sounds. "Do something for as much money as possible" would be antiefficient, but the actual statement implies two maxmisations, &

Phys. Rev. X Quantum

It is a new journal that has been recently announced by the American Physical Society (APS). It is introduced as " a highly selective, open access journal featuring quantum information science and technology research with an emphasis on lasting and profound impact." But why? Both Phys. Rev. Research and Phys. Rev. X perfectly cover the remit. It is very disappointing that APS now decides still to play the game of new journals for new trendy topics. I welcomed Phys. Rev. Research  as a step in the right direction ( see previous post ) . I am afraid Phys. Rev. X Quantum goes in the wrong direction, both as a new topical journal and as a highly selective one. My reasons for this are presented in an earlier post . Sadly, APS is following the path defined by others, in a competition among publishers that does not serve the community, and in which it has few chances to maintain (regain?) leadership.  Of course, I have absolutely nothing against the Quantum community, whatever i

Welcome Physical Review Research

This post is addressed to fellow physics researchers: I very much welcome the new open access journal Physical Review Research by the American Physical Society. It is a step in the right direction. I have great hope in the APS keeping its leadership in physics publishing in a way that journals serve the academic community and not the other way around. PRR aims to serve the whole physics community, subfields being identified by searchable tags. Ideal next steps to my mind: (i) Gradually subsume the Physical Review journals into PRR (easier said than done, I know, especially moneywise). (ii) Analogously to the tags identifying subfield, tags should also reflect “importance and broad interest” as now done by the categories of regular articles, rapid communications, and Physical Review Letters (or Physical Review X). A numerical tag would suffice: 1, 2 and 3 for the three mentioned categories, for instance. One could even go for a level 4, indicating the level of papers that would go

On the shifting paradigm for research literature

Background. The way research progress is shared and published has been changing during the last decades from the old paradigm that revolved around the fact that publication had to be on paper. The transformation is remarkably slow, however. We are clinging on to basic concepts that were natural for the old paper model (e.g. enormous amounts of journals) but are now of little or no advantage. Among other reasons, the observed inertia is explained by the fact that the traditional business model for scientific literature is ideal for the established publishers. This model has been discussed by many (regularly in The Economist, for instance), whereby publicly-funded researchers produce the content and most of the quality control, and publicly-funded libraries pay juicy subscription fees for researchers to be able to access the research of others. Add to it the partly monopolistic character of the business (an author of an article can choose where to publish, but a reader of that article c