“The field of scientific research is deteriorating because of the way the system is set up. Researchers do the research – financed with public funds – and then the public institutions that they work for pay the big scientific publishers several times, for reviewing and publishing submissions. Simultaneously, the researchers also review scientific papers for free, while companies like Clarivate or the Shanghai Ranking draft their lists, telling everyone who are the good guys (and leaving out the people who, apparently, aren’t worth consideration).
In the last 30 years – since we’ve been living with the internet – we’ve altered the ways in which we communicate, buy, teach, learn and even flirt. And yet, we continue to finance and evaluate science in the same way as in the last century. Young researchers – underpaid and pressured by the system – are forced to spend time trying to get into a “Top 40? list, rather than working in their laboratories and making positive changes in the world.
As the Argentines say: “The problem isn’t with the pig, but with the person who feeds it.” Consciously or unconsciously, we all feed this anachronistic and ineffective system, which is suffocated by the deadly embrace between scientific journals and university rankings. Our governments and institutions fill the coffers of publishers and other companies, who then turn around and sell us their products and inform us (for a price) about what counts as quality….
Despite the issues, there’s certainly reason to be optimistic: although we scientists are victims (and accomplices) of the current system, we’re also aware of its weaknesses. We want to change this reality.
After a long debate – facilitated by the Open Science unit of the European Commision – the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (COARA) has been created. In the last four months, more than 500 institutions have joined COARA, which – along with other commitments – will avoid the use of rankings in the evaluation of research. COARA is a step forward to analyze – in a coherent, collective, global and urgent manner – the reform of research evaluation. This will help us move away from an exclusively quantitative evaluation system of journals, towards a system that includes other research products and indicators, as well as qualitative narratives that define the specific contributions of researchers across all disciplines….”