eLife looks to breathe new life into academic publishing and research communication

As you know, my weekends are often spent with my family replicating scientific experiments of the day. So just to reassure you that we all emerged safely this evening from the sealed environment of the kitchen, following our 18 hr simulation of an earth-bound journey in 2035. We estimate that we made the equivalent of a return trip to Fort William but would have got further were it not for engineering works . All participants reported a slight sense of being divorced from reality afterwards, not unlike a Minister in HM Coalition Government.

…I wonder what will have changed in eighteen months time in the sphere of academic publishing. It is a focus of heightened debate at the moment with the Lords already having completed an inquiry into peer review and scientific papers, and the Government undertaking another .

From an innocent bystanders point of view one does get the sense that the academic press has an unhealthy stranglehold

over the dissemination of science results and discoveries which is not in the public interest. Listening to the key players in the debate, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they have just emerged from their own bell-jar into a world that has rapidly moved on.

New kid on the block ‘eLife’ which yesterday gave out further details of its forthcoming open access and entirely online operation, wishes to be seen to be challenging the status quo I think. It certainly sounds promising in its press statements about wishing to revolutionise research communication . But, as with any publication, we will only really be able to tell if it is coming near to its goal when it goes live.

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