Nobel Winner Schekman Boycotts top Science Journals

American biologist Randy Schekman, winner of this year’s Nobel prize in physiology, has written an editorial in the Guardian announcing that his lab will no longer submit articles for publications in what he calls ‘luxury jounals’ (he names Nature, Cell, and Science as examples) because he feels that they are creating an unhealthy climate in the science world. He explains:

These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called “impact factor” – a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself – and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking.

Shekman says that the impact factor causes ‘bubbles’ in fashionable fields of science and influences the type of science that researchers conduct — essentially leading people to write articles that they hope will be published in these esteemed publication. He recommends that scientists publish in open access journals which are free for anyone to read, and where there are no artificial caps on the number of papers published — thus eliminating the ‘scarcity factor.’ He also calls on funders of research and university not to favor proposals or candidates because of where their work has been published, but rather make judgments on the quality of science produced.

This call will be echoed, I am sure, by many people who feel that the field of cold fusion has been ignored or undervalued because it hasn’t been featured in the big name publications. To my mind good science should be considered good science, no matter where it is published.

  • georgehants

    May I ask Admin why he has opened up a futurist section to seemingly promote scientific announcements that are full of propaganda and distortion, designed to raise funding for areas such as space travel etc. when millions are suffering on this Planet through the corruption and incompetence of sciences debunking of Cold Fusion and many other important areas.
    Could I suggest it would be more Worthwhile to start highlighting the failures and corruption of science that are clearly being reported daily.
    That corruption of Cold Fusion is why most of us are here and carrying on as if science is not totally to blame for the horrific position today is closing one’s eyes to the Truth.
    If Admin has any problem seeing other areas of science where corruption etc. is as rife as with Cold Fusion please let me know and I will put up half a dozen examples daily.

    • ecatworld

      Hi George, thanks for your suggestion. My goal is not specifically to expose the shortcomings of science — but I hope we’re drawing attention to discoveries that are so far relatively unrecognized by science and the wider world, and which could be used for beneficial purposes.

  • Sanjeev

    The ancient peer review process and monopolized journals will soon be dead. I consider it already dead as proven by some people who successfully published fake papers using pseudonyms and nonsensical papers written by software bots. More and more scientists, especially the ethically conscious ones are moving to open science. This open science community on Google plus is a fine example:

    All research must be published, irrespective of what a few “peers” or editors think about it. A paper’s worth should be determined by its usefulness, not by opinions. Again, internet is the way to combat censorship.

  • Marc Ellenbroek

    Frank, I read the following essay:
    Can we discuss the following:
    I am finding articles of them on the Internet regularly. Who are they, what do they try to do, what is space-time, what is the Alex Hill device. It seems they do not feel them accepted by the regular scientists. Should they be supported more?

    • artefact

      “Who are they, what do they try to do, what is spacetime”:
      The Universe of Myron Evans

  • Pekka Janhunen

    I get worried when I hear people say that the peer review system is dead. In the past when the number of scientists was small and everyone knew each other, peer review was not needed. But nowadays it’s essential. Theoretical particle physics and cold fusion are fields which make less than average use of peer reviewing, and in both cases I think it’s causing some problems.

    Of course, peer reviewing is a statistical measure, one shouldn’t think (as many science journalists seem to) that any peer-reviewed paper is automatically correct while any non-peer-reviewed paper is bad. But on average, using peer review does produce papers of higher quality because an external person can often see problems that the authors who have worked with the topic very closely are overlooking.
    Open access and peer review are different things. Most open access journals are peer reviewed and are in all respects equivalent to traditional journals, except for the business model (author pays versus reader pays).
    The reason why cold fusion was excluded from mainstream journals was not peer review, but editorial policy, as e.g. was documented recently by Pamela Mosier-Boss et al. in JCMNS Vol 12 (which is, by the way, an example of open access peer-reviewed journal). Mental inertia of peer reviewers could explain perhaps 1-2 year delay, but not 25 years.

    • georgehants

      Pekka, as many scientists and scientific establishments are proven to be incompetent and corrupt how would one know if the peer review is honest and able.
      How would you remove incompetent and corrupt scientist, such as those that comment on Cold Fusion without reference to the Research Evidence or an open-mind that says do more Research.
      These same scientists are the ones doing the peer review.
      Logic and common sense would seem to dictate that the scientific method of peer review is unscientific without strong policing of those doing the reviews.

      • Fortyniner

        The scientific publishing process is thoroughly distorted by an unholy mix of editorial bias (that may originate externally in some cases), politics and financial interests of journals, together with grant-seeking behaviours, career interests trumping truth, and conformity with establishment paradigms on the part of many researchers.

        I fear that the whole system is beyond redemption and urgently needs to be replaced by a more openly reviewed system, for which Arxiv could possibly form the basis. However any such system would need some very strong checks and balances built in if it is to avoid the same fate as Wikipedia.

        • Pekka Janhunen

          Arxiv fulfills its role as a free channel. For refereed journals, the problem with CF arose from editorial policies. As a more innocent example of such policy, the IKAROS journal (planetary science) categorically rejects papers which attempt to improve the Titius-Bode law, apparently because at some point in history they felt that they received too many such papers and that the subject is inherently speculative. Such policies should be discouraged and it should be a requirement (part of ethical rules of science) that if such policies are used, they must be made known so that public debate about them is possible.

          • georgehants

            Pekka may I ask what should be done to expose and remove any scientist or scientific organisation shown to have unfairly impeded or abused science by a biased or untruthful review, publication, lecture etc.
            What safeguards for the public should be put in place to stop scientists etc. from incompetently and corruptly abusing the search for scientific Truth.
            It seems that at present these crimes against science are just quickly forgotten or covered up no matter how serious to humanity the effects.

            • Pekka Janhunen

              The ethical rules of science should be updated and sharpened as concerning editor activity. The present rules at least in Finland (; gloss over this aspect, probably because not too many researchers are journal editors. In the present rules (p. 33), section “Other irresponsible practices” say “delaying the work of another researcher, for example, through refered peer reviewing”. It should be more fleshed out. The document also describes what kind of procedure is invoked (in Finland) if misconduct is suspected.

              • ethical rules, like common criterai are the problem, not the solution.
                we need variety of criteria, or rules.
                the problem with todays, with that oligopoly of truth is that every funding agency use the same (US-centered) criteria, leading to supporting only one group delusion…

                once you have rules, and peer-review, there is automatically the risk of groupthink . the only solution is to have variety.

                we need to have competition of “Truth mafia”, always dissenting, with no winner until one of the cam decide that it’s position cannot be defended and choose to join and compete on applications.

                Maybe Chinese academy of science, can be those mafia…
                Japanese academies were too weak.
                Italian community was autonomous, but too weak to battle on consensus… they just like japanese, battled to have the right to work in quiet…

        • the solution is variety of system.
          the problem is not that academic are academic, it is tha today there is only one gang of academic, led by nature/Science/MIT.

          when N-rays were debunked, English and French were competing, with opposing gang of scientist who took energy to defend their thesis, and debunk the others thesis…

          The war LENr was “debunked” could have been nice if there was an equivalent of ERAB/Nature/Science/MIT/HARWELL/CalTech/SciAm/APS/DoE to face the denial…
          imagine that to face that Mafia you have another mafia led by JJAP/naturwissenschaften/Tokyo/ENEA/Elforsk/Navy…

          the research would have been fantastically accelerated… both mafia would have funded millions to prove their point and quickly one of the camp would have dropped and jumped in the others bandwagon to steal some glory.

          instead of that the maintream mafia comfortably stopped researching, claiming all was sure, since there was no more any peer-review paper in “important journals”

          facing them, underground researchers developed technology without neither funding, nor serious critics or advises …

          the mafia concept is written ins the concept of academic organization, the fact that it is peer-reviewed and consensual.
          Only competition allows to deepen the debate.
          with globalization this competition was transformed in a mafia fusion and acquisition.

          • georgehants

            From Vortex –
            Jed Rothwell
            Tue, 10 Dec 2013 06:50:45 -0800
            This is a breath of fresh air. It is similar to what Pam Boss et al. wrote
            in the JCMNS the other day:
            How the Flawed Journal Review Process Impedes Paradigm Shifting Discoveries

  • LilyLover

    Good Future


    1. AmazonAcademics starts an open source knowledge website.

    2. Scientists submit their paper.

    3. A program annonimizes the submitter’s info. (Like Craiglist does.)

    4. A team of English professors and editors, paid or voluntary, brings it up to editorial standards of publication. (As opposed to every scientist doing dual diligence to outperform professional editors. And waste 10 years of life.) (& Let’s make the English majors do some useful work. As opposed to paper accepted vs rejected – make them make the paper worthwhile.)

    5. For a month or so the paper goes online as any other amazon product.

    6. Everyone reviews (star rating, comments) it at certain level. Normal people review it like they would any other product, verified or anonymous. Educated people, verified, at bachelors, masters, PhDs or post doctoral’s levels review (star rating, comments) the papers while selecting their educational and expertise level.

    7. The merit of the paper is based on weighted average rating of the educated people.

    8. Popularity of the paper is based on public reviews, which is allowed to be influenced by scholarly reviews.

    9. At the end of the month, or after 100 educated ratings or 1000 public ratings, the original authors name is published.

    10. After five more months of review period, merit and popularity of the paper evaluated. any significant distinction in trends before and after author’s name publication should be noted.

    11. Priority of research funding should be based on merit of the paper as established above. Quantity of research funding/NSF/DOD/NASA/DOE should be based on popularity as established above. (Thus professors will be able to focus on Science rather than begging to mooroons for funding popularity based plausible science.)

    12. In the absence of money, the FED should be required to put aside at least 5% of newly created QE money for the research.

    13. Incentive for amazon? Early access to knowledge. Patent protection arrangements to be made. Be more powerful and on the forefront of modern technology.

    This will allow real science to advance and bring back the dignity to real scientists as opposed to servicing ivory towers.

    If nothing else, tell this to your kids. Maybe they’ll take actions.

  • GreenWin

    Good for Dr. Schekman. There is a growing trend toward open access publication. And though an open access publisher can be fooled (e.g. John Bohannon’s sting) so too are many print pubs.

    “Nobody reads journals,” says science publisher Vitek Tracz, who has made a fortune from journals. “People read papers.” Tracz sees a grim future for what has been the mainstay of scientific communication, the peer-reviewed print journal. Within the next 10 years, he says, it will cease to exist.”

    • Alan DeAngelis

      Yeah, Grigori Perelman presented a proof of the Poincaré conjecture
      in three papers made available in 2002 and 2003 on arXiv.

      • GreenWin

        And four years later journal Science named his proof “Breakthrough of the Year.” An open access trend that will continue with LENR validations.

  • Gerrit

    You could almost assume that Randy Schekman read the recent article by Pamela Mosier-Boss et al in the journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science