Finding and reading scientific papers is a pain in the ass. I am not a researcher nor a fresh university graduate. I still love to read interesting scientific papers regularly. For me finding and accessing scientific papers was nearly impossible or unaffordable.
Every time I asked myself the question why is it that complicated to access scientific papers? Why are some researchers demanding far-fetched prices for their mediocre research results which were completely financed by an EU budget?
Differentiate Between Publicly and Privately Financed Research
The first thing we need to work on is the differentiation between publicly financed research and privately financed research. I live in Germany where I enjoy free education, as all other students do. Germany and basically all other EU states are funding the education system entirely. Doctorates, Ph.D. candidates, and professors are getting paid by the government to conduct research. In addition, there are millions of students who are graduating every year. They enjoyed more than three years of free education paid for by the government. Where can you access their Bachelor, Master, and Ph.D. thesis? They are inaccessible. I think it is the right step to introduce a publication obligation for everyone enjoying free education. This is true for professors, Ph.D. candidates, and all students.
On the other hand, there are institutes which are solely financed out of private funds. Here I can understand when researchers demand a high fee for accessing and reading their research results and scientific publishings.
The problem with both: publicly funded and privately funded research papers is the problem of intellectual property and a proper and fair monetary compensation. This is where a blockchain based publishing platform might help.
Waiting Months and Even Years for a Publication is Ridiculous
When I asked some professors about the publication process of well known scientific magazines I was surprised to hear that a publication usually takes several months. I think it is ridiculous that a few publishers have the power to decide which research will be published. Why do a few publishers have the power and the know-how to decide which scientific paper has a certain quality? The only one who should assess a scientific publishing is the reader, not the publisher. I think that scientific publishers have way too much power without any justification. They rest on the fact that they are the only contact when researchers want to publish their findings. The publishing industry is ripe for disruption.
Fair Compensation and Intellectual Property on the Blockchain
Researchers and students need to be encouraged to publish their research on a global blockchain based research publishing platform. This will have the following advantages.
Fair Compensation of Researchers
Imagine a publishing platform based on the Ethereum blockchain where are users are fairly compensated. The more citations or reads a certain publishing receives the higher will be the monetary compensation. Every registered user will be able to up vote or down vote a specific paper. An index which may be calculated out of several data points such as the number of reads, number of citations, number of upvotes, number of backlinks may indicate the overall quality of a publication. The higher this index will be, the higher will be the compensation of the author. Every paper will share parts of its compensation with the cited sources used in the paper. This means that a regularly quoted research paper will earn money simply by being of high quality and being recited.
Researchers are able to publish their studies and research papers within seconds instead of months. By simply submitting their work to the blockchain based platform they make their findings immediately available to every researcher worldwide. A global publishing platform is not limited to an audience while the audience of a scientific journal is usually highly limited. We don’t need to abolish scientific journals completely. They can simply publish the best rated or most promising articles which were originally published on the blockchain based publishing platform.
Respect of Intellectual Property
The use of a blockchain based publishing platform will make plagiarism impossible. All articles are published on a worldwide ledger. This means the simple text files of a scientific paper are stored on millions of devices worldwide. If a researcher comes up with an idea first it will be stored in the blockchain. It will be impossible to change, alter, or delete this fact. It will be a matter of fact who has been the original author. If subsequent researchers try to copy recent research results without giving appropriate credit the publishing platform will detect this and mark the publishing as plagiarism and reward the initial author instead. This might be possible by implementing a software which is continuously comparing research submissions with prior research papers already stored in the blockchain system.
Free or Paid Access
The users of this blockchain based publishing platform may also have different roles.A student or a resident of a specific country might access research results of its country for free. Other researchers will have to pay a small fee, larger organizations will have to pay a larger fee. We can implement a fair digital payment system which will ensure a fair compensation and a fair use of all published research papers.
Fair and Open Platform
All in all, I think that a transparent publishing platform for researchers worldwide will democratize the world. Scientific journals won’t be able to prefer certain candidates over another. Publishers and authors will be compensated with a fair monetary reward and intellectual property rights are respected.
What do you think about this idea? Leave a comment below!