Leveraging blockchain technology for publishing pre-prints and single observations
The current scholarly publishing system needs a much-needed overhaul. Global research is facing serious challenges from current models for scholarly publishing, including problems in peer-review, absence of fair credit for contributions, selective reporting of results, long delays in publication and irreproducibility of research results. There are several reasons for these challenges, primarily the skewed incentives based on where research is published as opposed to it intrinsic value, commercial interests of the publishing industry distorting any peer-to-peer evaluation process, all compounded with a “publish or perish” culture. These problems are so systemic that they impact the entire research process, and consequently society as a whole . Here we propose that blockchain, the innovative technology behind cryptocurrencies, has the capacity to resolve many of these issues by making digital research discoveries immutable, transparent, decentralised, and distributed. Besides the initial experiment and data acquisition, many parts of the research cycle could take place within a blockchain-based system: hypothesis, discovery, attribution, incentivisation, and publication. We introduce REWARD, a suite based on blockchain that could be used for both publishing single observations and also preprints, conduct crowd-sourced peer review, reward peer reviewers through smart contracts and also incentivise replication research. This bears the potential to be the much-needed paradigm shift in scholarly research publishing, by making the entire process more efficient, reducing waste, and make more research results verifiable by reducing overhead, accelerating the scientific process and incentivising true innovation.