After 8 years on the receiving end of academia (and a few on the providing end) I don't particularly like the scientific journal process. That's my bias. Michael Clarke wrote an excellent article on why the disruption of this process by web technology hasn't taken place yet (he argues that the web was invented to do just this). He gives 3 reasons embedded in academic culture as to why the web has only incrementally changed the world of scientific literature.
- Validation (peer review)
- Filtration (so much info)
- Designation (how to get grants/tenure)
He argues that these needs are not technological and therefore not disrupted. Imagining what kind of new technology could replace the scientific journal, I immediately thought of SE.
- Open, post-published peer review is becoming more common as data scientists blog their findings and peers comment. SE has a great set up for commenting on questions and answers as well as updating based on comments.
- Voting in SE provides a great filter for the best stuff.
- Reputation is becoming more and more reliable in SE and is now seen on job resumes.
I can imagine SE starting "scientific journal" sites to go hand in hand with some "Q&A" sites. Much of the functionality would be similar, but instead of questions there would be scientific articles. And instead of answers there would be reviewers' comments on the article. Some additional incremental functionality such as the ability to indicate incorporation of comments in the article, or ability to browse core articles easily, could be added as needed in the same way meta works.
What do you think?
Could/should SE host the awaited web-based replacement for the scientific publishing process?