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Is Scientific Communication Fit for Purpose?

Some fear it's leading to an erosion of public trust in science

Science is a process. We tack towards discovery, towards truth, because the process encourages curiosity, critical thinking, experimentation, correction, and, at least in recent years, competition. When it runs properly, the process as a whole, over the course of time, is trustworthy. To be sure, individual scientists misbehave and scientific works are riddled with problems, but the process seeks truth. 

Tacking towards truth through iteration and error correction is a workable model when scientists are talking only to one another. But in today’s environment, openness brings individual scientific works far more readily into the public discourse. And public discourse is intensely politicized, with science serving in turn as an enemy, a scapegoat, a virtue signal or a vector for misinformation. I believe our sector is overdue for a conversation about whether our model for scientific scholarly communication is fit for today’s environment, or whether it is increasingly leading to an erosion of public trust in science.


In earlier eras, the distinction between scientific communication with peers and public communication of science was greater. Over the past two decades, one of the underlying rationales of the open access movement has been that the general public should have ready and free access to the scientific record. As we begin to better understand the second-order consequences of openness, we must grapple more systematically with how they can be addressed. 

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

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