The future of scientific publishing

With an explosion in demand for publishing outlets, digital disruption, publications increasingly used as signifiers of scientific merit, and costly paywalls that constrain access to scientific journals for all but the most well-funded researchers, the traditional systems of scientific publishing are under pressure.

person holding a tablet

Consultations with ISC Members have revealed that this issue is of significant interest and importance to scientists everywhere.

In 2020 the ISC undertook a major review of the role of publishing in the scientific enterprise and developed a set of principles for scientific publishing that aim to maximize the benefit of publications for global science and for the wider audiences for scientific research. A discussion paper was developed with the support of an international scoping group, and circulated to Members for their feedback in mid-2021. A total of 79 different Members provided feedback through an online survey and later virtual discussion meetings that aimed to gather perspectives on the analysis and principles proposed in the draft paper, and to explore the potential for a broader campaign for change.

‘The paper is important for many of us who are involved in editing, assisting young researchers to publish their results and review of papers pre-publishing. For developing countries, the paper can serve as a guideline in the process of creating a stable process to publishing of results of extensive work which frequently does not find its way to being published & for others to access.’

Suad Mohammed Sulaiman, Sudanese National Academy of Sciences

Science publishing report cover

Following revisions, the draft paper was published as an ISC Report, Opening the record of science: making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era, in February 2021, and work is under way to develop a powerful and broadly based coalition for change to ensure that the processes of efficient dissemination and use of scientific work are central parts of a revitalized open science.

Next up: Science in Exile