ligaseribozyme1

If you’ve been through the academic treadmill or are still running it, you know the phrase Publish or Perish: to get tenure in a university requires that you stay on top of your game and keep in the mix of ideas by getting your work printed in an academic journal. Problem is, as the folks at Read Write Web point out, most of those journals and the ideas and work published in them remain the sole property of the academic community. That could be changing with RNA Biology (hot reading, yo!) asking every author submitting an article for a section of the journal about RNA molecules to also submit a summary page of the work to Wikipedia. Like other Wiki pages, editing can occur. But step one, like the academic process, will require a peer review of the material.

It’s about time. As a former academic working in the pro field with less than the amount of time I’d like to revisit my university library to keep up with the latest journal articles, I rail against the fact that when I Google a subject or specific article many of the sources I’d like to read require a subscription to the academic journal in question. Ridiculous, especially when you consider the cost of the print versions of these journals, the reality that most of them exist only to populate library shelves and the fact that none of the authors get a dime for the words that keep a few scholarly editors flush with beer money. So the fact that one journal has decided to forge onwards into the present of open-source culture rather than remain self-sequestered in the cobwebby, institutional past is good news.

As Frederic Lardinois of RWW points out when he writes that “The relationship between academia and the Wikipedia has always been an uneasy one, and it will be interesting to see how the academic community is going to react to this experiment,” it could be good viewing, too.

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