“Sally Morris: Facilitated by online access, the rise of freely available preprint databases, and (partly as a publisher response to these) author-side funded free-to-read journals, has been a massive shift. According to one researcher I quizzed recently, he values both—preprints in order to get hold of the latest findings, and the published journal (whether or not free-to-read) for the fact that the article has been peer-reviewed. He does, however, resent the high author charges for publication in some of the top journals.
Josh Nicholson: Let me caveat this by saying that I have only really ever interacted with research when it was already online. I think scholarly publishing didn’t actually change so much when transitioning from print to online. I often compare Einstein’s 1916 paper predicting gravitational waves to the 2016 paper from CERN detecting gravitational waves to make this point. Despite 100?years in between publications and the transition from print to online, they look remarkably the same….
Niamh O’Connor: There are a quite a few worth noting! Enabled by the move online, we saw emergence of the Open Access (OA) movement. The initial aim of this was to ‘open’ the literature and allow everyone to access research outputs—at the time primarily articles. With the move to OA came a change in business models where instead of paying for a product (‘the journal’), payment was made for a publishing service—so aligned with the move to ‘servitization’ seen in the wider economy. Building on this, the megajournal (PLOS ONE being the first) fundamentally changed perception and practice around publication criteria. Both in terms of focus on work being ‘correct’ in the initial iteration, now on methodological and ethical rigor, and in terms of removing scope boundaries and allowing research in all fields of research to be published in a single journal. This is particularly important for interdisciplinary research.
And now we are seeing a transition to an Open Science ecosystem, explicitly acknowledging the interdependence of contributions to research and discovery. The 2021 UNESCO recommendation on Open Science ‘outlines a common definition, shared values, principles and standards for open science at the international level and proposes a set of actions conducive to a fair and equitable operationalization of open science for all’. Open Science allows and encourages us to rethink how we share and consume research to make that move from the constraints of the physical format and take advantage of the opportunities provided by a digital world—and there is a long way to go yet! …”