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Elsevier replies to The Guardian

Hot publications appear not only in Science and Nature. The lay press is also capable of getting their readers excited and can trigger agitated discussions. For example, last week’s commentary in The Guardian could not go unnoticed – and many people have started a discussion whether McDonald’s indeed should be given a task to “monitor the eating habits of a nation and then using that to guide policy decisions”. We do not want to comment on that but would rather cite the response that was posted by Elsevier. Just to make sure that our readers hear voices of both sides of the discussion.

We find it very encouraging that Publishers get more and more involved into the process of identifying and introducing various measures to stimulate adherence to high standards in research data quality. In fact, Publishers are commonly mentioned by our peers as being in the exactly right position to make these necessary changes happen. However, why does this process take so long? Our guess is that the answer is linked to the original / current business model of the publishers where commercial success is tightly connected to the number of submissions and the number of published papers. This also explains why all publishers whom we offered to perform a pilot experiment introducing a quality-based feedback loop, have declined our proposal indicating that it will have a dramatic impact on their submission rates.

Open Science is the right way to go and the efforts by publishers like Elsevier to help deliver open science may indicate that very important changes to the publishing business are happening and should therefore be welcomed.

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