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Week 1 milestones

Week 1 September 7 - September 14: Defining assumptions

  • [x] Confirm your team members (by 9/7/17):
  • [x] Choose which challenge you are going to be working on
  • [x] Define specific problem you're addressing
  • [x] Why is Blockchain needed to solve this problem?
  • [x] What is the size of the market?
  • [x] What other solutions are currently being used to address this problem? (other companies, workarounds, systems or processes that can compete with or substitute your product)

End of Week Deliverable – Document answering the above questions

Team members

Viktor Jacynycz, Antonio Tenorio, Sem, Tati Nazarova

Challange we are working on

Supply Chain

Problem we are addressing

The current science distribution model was developed before the Internet age. In the past, the only way to access state of the art knowledge was to subscribe to specialized academic journals, but nowadays this model is obsolete. The publishing process is extremely slow, sometimes lasting years in which the authors of a paper cannot share their scientific advances with the community until the article is published. This obstructs the access to knowledge, instead of promoting it.

This model is only serving the interests of big publishing oligarchies, not the interests of society and the scientific community. This distribution model is so unfair that publishers usually get the scientific papers and reviews for free from their authors, while they charge scientists, institutions and people to access those papers.

Many are the challenges that science distribution faces today, from providing open access to knowledge, to using alternative metrics for measuring the quality of science.

By using the Internet as a distribution platform and Blockchain technology to enable distributed governance and remove intermediaries, we aim to change the way science is distributed today. Concretely, we aim to use the IlnterPlanetary File System (IPFS) as an open, distributed, and non-censurable channel to share scientific papers; and develop an Ethereum Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) to enable a distributed peer-review process in which trusted reviewers can accept, propose changes and reject papers, being the accepted papers "published" in the DAO's distributed journal.

This approach enables open access by default, makes the peer review and publication process easier and faster, removing intermediaries such as publishers, and makes the process entirely transparent. Moreover, by changing the distribution model, the production model is also challenged. Making the distribution and evaluation of science easier may encourage new models of production similar to open-source, in which the knowledge is not considered static and it is easy for external contributors to propose enhancements.

Why is Blockchain needed to solve this problem?

With Blockchain technology we can develop Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that replace traditional journals in the peer review and publishing process. The gobernace of these journals will be defined by the DAO's source code in Ethereum.

The DAOs will transparently define their rules, such as the number of favorable peer-reviews needed for a paper to be published, or who are the people that can decide if the paper is in the scope of the journal.

Thus, scientific community will be able to publish and access peer-reviewed papers without any cost. Moreover, anyone can create their own journal with custom gobernace rules to publish scientific knowledge.

The knowledge stored in these DAOs will be permanent, incensorable and globally accesible for everyone.

What is the size of the market?

According to a recent European Comission report, the total market size of Academic Publishing and Open Access publising are:

  • Academic publishing: $10 billion / year
  • Open Access: $500 million / year

We are aiming to change a market supported by old technologies and established oligopolies with decentralized disruptive technologies. This opens new opportunities for many new open access distributed journals, challenging business models built upon unneeded intermediaries.

Source: Johnson, Rob, Mattia Fosci, Andrea Chiarelli, Stephen Pinfield, and Michael Jubb. “Towards a Competitive and Sustainable OA Market in Europe-A Study of the Open Access Market and Policy Environment,” 2017. http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/114081/1/OA%20market%20report%20(Final%2013%20March%202017).pdf.

Other solutions currently in use

Many solutions have been proposed to provide open access to knowledge and to improve the publishing and distribution of science. There are two open-access distribution models, Green Open Access and Gold Open Access. On the one hand, authors using Green Open Access model share their work in an open repository (such as CiteSeer, arXiv, PubMed Central), but they can only share the work they have the rights of (usually only preprint versions). On the other hand, Gold Open Access provides free access to the content, while authors, subscribers, advertisers or founders are charged.

Both traditional and new publishers and journals (e.g. Elsevier and PLOSS, respectively) provide open access for science publication. However, both Green and Gold models make profit out of knowledge publication, either by charging for the final versions, or, alternatively, by charging the authors or making profit with other business models.

Open access to knowledge is also being promoted through sharing access to papers (either open access or not) with tools such as sci-hub.cc. These solutions are, however, accused of copyright infringement, and have been blocked in some countries.

Regarding publication speed, journals are beginning to adopt online and continuous publication to deliver accepted papers online as soon as they are ready. Using this approach, papers do not have to wait for other journal papers to be finished in order to publish the entire issue.

However, to our knowledge, there have been no attempts to grant open access through peer-to-peer technology by the journal/publishers or to provide transparency and efficiency in the peer review and publication processes through Blockchain technologies.

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