How to make a living as an independent scientist?

Peer Production License
Published article on ResearchGate - Dapoxetine for Premature Ejaculation: a Harmful Placebo?
Article self-published with a Peer Production License on ResearchGate

On the 7th of October, 2014 I published my research paper “Dapoxetine for premature ejaculation: a harmful placebo?” on ResearchGate (RG).

ResearchGate is also called “the Facebook of science”.

The friendly people at RG told me I am the first scientist to self-publish his work on their platform. Because RG worked well for me to put my research in the spotlight, I decided to use their new peer review tool. Thanks to comments from various scientists and two rounds of open peer review, my manuscript got a lot better. Publication on RG is for free and I keep my copyrights. A previous publication in an open access journal costed me 1750 euros, mostly to keep my copyrights. My current article is a free read for anyone.

Published article on ResearchGate - Dapoxetine for Premature Ejaculation: a Harmful Placebo?I am an independent scientist without a research grant. For quite some time I sought a way to monetize my work. But how to do this when all is open access, open science, and open anything? I found an opportunity in the Peer Production License. It lets open science flourish and allows me too generate some income. If you download my article (you do not need to register, just click away the dialog), you can see how this works.

I know I am breaking new land here, so I consider this an experiment. If you follow me on twitter (@FFeys) or the blog feed, you can get updates on how things go.

Please share your comments on how you would make a living out of open, independent, and quality research.

Towards a realistic view on open science peer review ?

open science peer review

open science peer reviewA week ago, a scientific journal asked me if I wanted to evaluate an article (peer review). Since this is the first time that I was asked, I was flattered. A second later, I felt a responsibility to contribute to science. In order to estimate the value of the project, I quickly scanned the website of the journal, checked the review request and let the editor know that I would not do the review. My decision occupied my thoughts for the following days, until I realized that I first had to decide for myself what I consider peer review promoting open science. What is open science peer review ?

I am an advocate of open science and transparency, so as a reviewer I would need at least a plan of the study (protocol) and the data so I can check that the planned research is carried out and that results arise from the data.

I think it is also important that:

• the publication is freely accessible (open access), especially if the research was funded with public money. A community that pays for research has the right to view its results.

• the authors state they share the dataset with the scientific community. By reusing existing datasets science can progress quicker with no unnecessary duplication of efforts.

• the protocol is available as an addendum. Today most articles are published using the internet so a protocol, extensive analyzes, etc … can easily be provided as an additional download.

• a ‘film credit’ clearly identifies who did what. Who had the idea for the study, who sought funding, who did the study, who analyzed and who wrote the paper ?

• the paper mentions the funding: who paid what amount and to whom ?

• identification of conflicts of interest 1) by the authors: any stocks or consultancy work ? 2) by the journal: What sources of revenue has the journal, what reprint orders (reprint of articles) were done for the industry and for what amount ? Editors should mention anonymously any commercial pressure exerted them, their stocks, etc ….

From this list, is becomes clear that a critical evaluation of a research paper is an undertaking. Probably not a single paper meets these criteria. So if I ever want to do a peer review,  I have to make a priority list. For me, the absolute minimum to start the review process is a protocol, a dataset and if public money is used, a guarantee of a free, accessible publication.

I want to know what you think. Write a comment below or a brief comment on Twitter or Facebook, and together we will broaden the debate.