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Re-thinking research with a view to impact:
an academic perspective
Stephen Curry
Imperial College
Excitement about digital opportunities
April2003
Is that what people mean by ‘open access’?
TheincredulityofSaintThomas,Caravaggio
Doubts about the digital world
Impact: why do people become researchers?
• To understand the world
• To change the world
• To be remembered
Christopher W...
The digital world and the myth of measurement
The digital world and the myth of measurement
Measurement has its uses…
…but where are the limits?
take over?
Christopher Weyant, The New Yorker
Coming: 9th July
The Metric Tide
Report of the Independent Review
of the Role of Metric...
Re-thinking: what is good research?
• Transformative understanding
• Structure of DNA, RNAi, Higgs boson
• Transformative ...
How do we “measure” good research
• Publication in a high impact factor journal
• Citation counts
• Expert evaluation
Culture sustains traditional (subscription model) publishing
• Benefits
• High bar to entry spurs competition
• Downsides
...
Re-imagining scientific publication in the open era
• Universal preprints (like arXiv)
• Rapid dissemination
• Constructiv...
Downsides and challenges
• Quality concerns of pay-to-publish model?
• Bohannon, Beall, and vanity publishing? Mitigated b...
Thank You
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Re-thinking research with a view to impact: an academic perspective

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Talk given at ReCon 2015 in Edinburgh (19 June 2015) - http://reconevent.com/calendar/

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Re-thinking research with a view to impact: an academic perspective

  1. 1. Re-thinking research with a view to impact: an academic perspective Stephen Curry Imperial College
  2. 2. Excitement about digital opportunities April2003
  3. 3. Is that what people mean by ‘open access’? TheincredulityofSaintThomas,Caravaggio Doubts about the digital world
  4. 4. Impact: why do people become researchers? • To understand the world • To change the world • To be remembered Christopher Weyant, The New Yorker
  5. 5. The digital world and the myth of measurement
  6. 6. The digital world and the myth of measurement
  7. 7. Measurement has its uses…
  8. 8. …but where are the limits?
  9. 9. take over?
  10. 10. Christopher Weyant, The New Yorker Coming: 9th July The Metric Tide Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management July 2015
  11. 11. Re-thinking: what is good research? • Transformative understanding • Structure of DNA, RNAi, Higgs boson • Transformative methods • X-ray crystallography, PCR, CRISPR • Transformative technology • Silicon chip, graphene • Transformative impact • Policy, behaviour, legislation
  12. 12. How do we “measure” good research • Publication in a high impact factor journal • Citation counts • Expert evaluation
  13. 13. Culture sustains traditional (subscription model) publishing • Benefits • High bar to entry spurs competition • Downsides • High bar to entry slows publication, reduces researcher productivity • Conservative peer review • Eye-catching research trumps quality? • IF-based rewards foster cheating • Cheating undermines public trust • Restricts access • Poor fit to public policy in the digital age Dame  Janet  Finch:   “The  principle  that  the  results  of  research   that  has  been  publicly  funded  should  be   freely  accessible  in  the  public  domain  is…   fundamentally  unanswerable.”
  14. 14. Re-imagining scientific publication in the open era • Universal preprints (like arXiv) • Rapid dissemination • Constructive/collaborative criticism • Commenter credit • Open Access Journals • Open, PLOS-style peer review: original & competent research • Confirmatory studies or negative results also encouraged • Reviewer credit • Competition on service and price: value for money • Universal access: more readers - more scrutiny • Accessible Data/Software • Re-use and re-analysis • Disincentive to fraud
  15. 15. Downsides and challenges • Quality concerns of pay-to-publish model? • Bohannon, Beall, and vanity publishing? Mitigated by openness • Delegation of quality control to the reader: 
 mistakes only detected after publication? • Especially risky for medical research? • BIG question: How do we get the incentives right? • Post-publication reward mechanisms that are journal-independent • Evaluate academics on what they do (research+; see DORA) • Do we need selective journals to foster high-quality research? • Do we need journals to foster disciplines & sub-disciplines?
  16. 16. Thank You

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