ISC Releases Reports on Future of Scientific Publishing

The International Science Council (ISC) has released two discussion papers produced by the Steering Group of its “The Future of Scientific Publishing” project:

  1. Paper One “The Key Principles to Scientific Publishing
  2. Paper Two “The Case for Reform of Scientific Publishing”:
  3. Related blog “Charting the Future of Science: Reforming scientific publishing for a new era of open knowledge

The first paper reiterates the series of principles for scientific publishing that were strongly supported by ISC Members at the 2021 General Assembly, and the second represents the outcome of the work of the Steering Group in the aftermath of your General Assembly’s position. It analyses if and how present publishing practices fall short of the ISC’s Eight Principles and suggests possible avenues of approach that a subsequent phase of action might take.

Discussion and Questionnaire

This work recognizes several key stakeholders: the scientific community, the funders of science, the publishers themselves, many with a deep financial interest in the issue, including many learned societies, and the public, for it is their taxes that fund much science. This complex setting will require a carefully measured approach to evaluate where progress can be made. It would be an error to begin with a highly prescriptive agenda. Prior experience has suggested where initial actions are likely to offer progress. Members are not asked to support a particular detailed agenda, but to approve the broad priorities set out in the second paper and to express any particular areas of support or reservation.

The circulation of published scientific articles carrying insightful claims is fundamental to the purposes of science, whether it is to advance fundamental knowledge of nature and society, the application of scientific knowledge to global, regional or local problems, or for individual or social cultural or spiritual benefit. It permits claims to be scrutinised and either invalidated or sustained; processes that have made science the most reliable means of acquiring new knowledge. Such claims must be shared throughout the global scientific community by an efficient information system to inform and to satisfy needs for knowledge, to stimulate novel solutions for existing problems, and to create new, unanticipated opportunities. It is the view of the ISC that this vital public good is not well served by current systems and that reform is a vital priority.

The ISC invites feedback on the discussion papers from ISC members and the wider community.  A short survey on Papers One and Two is available at the bottom of the webpages for each publication. The survey will remain open until 1 March 2024.