Nobel Laureate Boycotts Academic Journals: They Damage Science


Timing is everything. Just one day before Randy Schekman received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2013, he published an op-ed in The Guardian. In it, he identified the structural incentive problems present in the top academic journals and how they relate to the science profession. According to this expert in cell physiology, the de facto policies of these top journals impacts the subjects that scientists choose to investigate and the quality of science done by the profession.

Already aware he would be the recipient of the award, Schekman named names, calling out academic journals such as Nature, Cell, and Science. “These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research.”

“In extreme cases, the lure of the luxury journal can encourage the cutting of corners, and contribute to the escalating number of papers that are retracted as flawed or fraudulent.” He proposes an institutional alternative: open-access journals. He himself is an editor of one such journal, eLife, which publishes influential discoveries in the biomedical sciences. These publications cost $0 to read.

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