6 Publisher Policies Antithetical to Research

The Authorea Team

How researchers communicate with one another and the world has changed very little over the last 350 years. Attempts to improve the process have been implemented throughout the years, not all of which have been to the benefit of research. Here we highlight some policies implemented by various publishers that we believe are antithetical to research communication and what we're doing to try to fix them.

Policy: Limiting the number of authors arbitrarily.

Aim: Conserve journal space.
"The reason for selecting these maximums, which are admittedly arbitrary, is that it is difficult to imagine that more than 12 people can have the comprehensive intellectual involvement necessary to fulfill the criteria for authorship" (Kassirer 1991).

Outcome: Arbitrary constraint later reversed.
"By extension of this reasoning, it is logical that those who meet the criteria for authorship not be excluded as authors. However, our current editorial policy limits to 12 the number of authors whose names can be printed under the title of an article. With advances in medical research, investigators with a broader range of skills than were required in the past are often needed to take new ideas from the bench to the bedside and to conduct large clinical trials. For this reason, we are modifying our policy on the number of authors we will list" (Drazen 2002)

Our approach: We encourage collaboration and in fact were built to facilitate it. We think collaboration will be key towards the advancement of research and because we're a web-native platform, constraints on space are not a concern.

Policy: Restricting Data Sharing. Should seek co-authorship and/or collaboration before using data. 

Aim: Limit how data is used. Encourage collaboration and co-authorship (Taichman 2016 & Longo 2016).
"[data sharing] will be taken over by what some researchers have characterized as “research parasites.”

Outcome: Major push back from researchers research community.
"We are strictly against such a monopoly based on data and for this reason suggested publication rules that prevent this from happening and plead for a data sharing with “research parasites” in the interest of the patients from whom the data originate" (Emmert-Streib 2016).

"Currently, a scientific output only corresponds to a study report published in a medical journal, while in the near future it might consist of all materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data. We need to change how we think about data (Drazen, 2015). Data sharing and open science are the future of science" (Barbui 2016).

"Longo 2016 miss the very point of scientific research when they write that researchers may “even use the [open] data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited.” It is at the core of the scientific paradigm that researchers take nothing as final truth. In fact, using research data to try to disprove a result is good scientific practice, especially in light of the replication crisis" (