Recently in the scientific world, the Royal Society of London—one of the most influential international fellowships of scientists—announced that they have launched a new open access journal called “Royal Society Open Science,” for the publishing of “original research across the entire range of science on the basis of objective peer review.”
In the world of academia and scientific research, this is a transformative change for the Royal Society. In the past, publishing in scientific journals was limited due to different regulations put on by the editors, including requirements such as a peer review, which is the evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional research by others working in the same field. Unfortunately, this has recently been a problematic error in that the more prestigious journals have a reputation of publishing only groundbreaking discoveries in their specific field. Thus, a culture of “Publish or Perish” has emerged within the scientific world of academia.
“Publish or Perish” can easily be summarized by saying that the culture of the scientific world now hinges on the publication of one’s work, no matter the method or discovery. In almost a Hollywood celebrity-like manner, it is about the popularity of the article within the journal, not so much the actual content. As such, journals have needed to retract certain articles discovered to be guilty of scientific misconduct.
This culture of publish or perish has created a sociological unrest within the scientific community, as now, journals are losing their prestigious stature and scientists are looking for other methods to publish their findings. In that, a new trend has arisen, exemplified by the open access journal now being produced by the Royal Society.
What is different about open access journals such as the Royal Society Open Science is that they offer a tremendous amount of access. Anyone can publish. It does not matter whether you are still a student or a well-experienced mathematician. If you have a high-quality article describing your research, you can submit your work to be evaluated for publication. The peer review requirements are still in play, but now the barriers of academic standing and experience, which too long defined the publication of other journals, has been removed.
This greatly helps the scientific world, in that now all research can be made available for reading with an objective perspective. Without the need to gain popularity before publishing their research, any normal scientists in the field can submit their work. With the previous barriers removed, the liberty for others to publish their work exists, and therein lies the opportunity for negative resulting research to gain recognition, which usually went unnoticed by scientific journals before.
Additionally, this equalizes the stature of upcoming scientists and even students who are entering into the academic world of research, and gives them the ability to spread out their new wings and test them in the skies of open access journals. For a fellowship of scientists as prestigious and influential as the Royal Society to be taking steps in this direction, this declaration echoes greatly within the academic world. If the Royal Society is making changes in the way they publish scientific research, then perhaps we will see a ripple effect spread throughout the scientific world, and soon all scientists with valid work will receive the recognition they deserve.