Open Access Publisher ScienceMatters Turns to Blockchain

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ScienceMatters, a Swiss-based scientific online publishing platform, is now developing a peer review process based on blockchain technology.

Plans are currently underway to utilize Eureka, a publishing platform that uses the Ethereum blockchain, which will also enable reviewers of submitted work to be compensated for their efforts with Eureka tokens. The tokens can then be exchanged for other currencies.

ScienceMatter’s editorial director Tamara Zaytouni claims, “Eureka’s crowdsourced scoring will provide researchers as well as publishers with a new metric that can be used to evaluate the work swiftly, thus speeding up the publication process.”

The platform should prove to be a trusted and immutable research management service according to the founder of both Science Matters and Eureka, Lawrence Rajendran, who is also a neuroscientist at King’s College London. Although, as yet ScienceMatters doesn’t actually use Eureka, little will drastically change due to the thoroughness of the peer review process, Rajandran suggests. Once Eureka is employed, however, reviewers will be unknown to one another (with reviewers crowdsourced from Eureka users), although their activities and reviews will be logged for all to see. The only downside, according to some current users of the platform is that upfront fees are liable for manuscript processing, and this doesn’t come cheap at USD 595 and with no guarantee of publication save a partial refund if turned down.

ScienceMatters is not the only publication of its kind using blockchain tech. ARTiFACTS in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presents research which produces a wealth of interesting material — such as data sets, single observations, and hypotheses.

ARTiFACTS provides a forum in which researchers can upload almost anything that they deem worth sharing, logging their finds to a blockchain. Jim Tate, president of EMR Advocate, a health-care technology consultancy based in Asheville, North Carolina, and a member of a working healthcare blockchain group, is positive that there is a future in the new technology in the sharing of research information.

He commented: “The underlying blockchain technology of Artifacts has directly increased the speed and efficiency of our entire project.”

With many other publishers using blockchain now, it is clear this technology has found a place among researchers who need to share their findings and store them safely for posterity.


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