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Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals? The recent announcement of a new journal sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust generated a bit of discussion about the issues in the scientific publishing process it is designed to address—arbitrary editorial decisions, slow and unhelpful peer review, and so on. Left unanswered, however, is a more fundamental question: why do we publish scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals to begin with? What value does the existence of these journals add? In this post, I will argue that cutting journals out of scientific publishing to a large extent would be unconditionally a good thing, and that the only thing keeping this from happening is the absence of a “killer app”.

Google Scholar in 2015? The publishing process as it stands currently The problems with this system have been pointed out ad nauseam; the most succinct statement of the issues I’ve seen is in a nice commentary by former British Medical Journal editor Richard Smith. 1. ArXiv.org e-Print archive.

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