Although many observers have advocated the reform of the scholarly publishing system, improvements to functions like peer review have been adopted sluggishly. We argue that this is due to the tight coupling of the journal system: the system's essential functions of archiving, registration, dissemination, and certification are bundled together and siloed into tens of thousands of individual journals. This tight coupling makes it difficult to change any one aspect of the system, choking out innovation. We suggest that the solution is the “decoupled journal (DcJ).” In this system, the functions are unbundled and performed as services, able to compete for patronage and evolve in response to the market. For instance, a scholar might deposit an article in her institutional repository, have it copyedited and typeset by one company, indexed for search by several others, self-marketed over her own social networks, and peer reviewed by one or more stamping agencies that connect her paper to external reviewers. The DcJ brings publishing out of its current seventeenth-century paradigm, and creates a Web-like environment of loosely joined pieces—a marketplace of tools that, like the Web, evolves quickly in response to new technologies and users' needs. Importantly, this system is able to evolve from the current one, requiring only the continued development of bolt-on services external to the journal, particularly for peer review.
Keywords: scholarly communication, peer review, publishing, models
Citation: Priem J and Hemminger BM (2012) Decoupling the scholarly journal. Front. Comput. Neurosci. 6:19. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00019
Received: 12 August 2011; Paper pending published: 11 November 2011;
Accepted: 16 March 2012; Published online: 05 April 2012.
Edited by:Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, UK
Reviewed by:Thomas Boraud, Universite de Bordeaux, France
Copyright: © 2012 Priem and Hemminger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.
*Correspondence: Jason Priem, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 100 Manning Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360, USA. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org