tirsdag 17. mars 2020

Will the coronavirus kill off the ‘dinosaur’ world of academic publishing?

Medical researchers in Asia, Europe and the United States are working around the clock on ways to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, hunting for clues and crunching data from decades of studies on pathogens similar to the new coronavirus.

The importance of that research was stressed on Friday when science authorities from 12 countries, including the US, Italy, and South Korea, released a statement urging corporate publishers of academic papers to make all relevant information openly and quickly available. “[We] urge publishers to voluntarily agree to make their Covid-19 and coronavirus-related publications, and the available data supporting them, immediately accessible,” it said.

The statement not only signalled the urgent need for information as the epidemic kills thousands, but also flagged a behind-the-scenes conflict between academic publishers – such as Amsterdam-based Elsevier, and America’s Taylor & Francis Group – and scientists critical of publishing practices that lock leading research behind subscription paywalls.