There's a new player in the burgeoning open science movement: ScienceOpen, a website that launched this week with a Yalie at its helm and more than 1 million scientific papers available for free.
Stephanie Dawson ’91, a Yale biology major with a PhD in German literature and a background in traditional science-journal publishing, is CEO of ScienceOpen, based in Berlin. (There's also a Boston office.)
“The arguments for Open Access are so simple and powerful,” she says in an e-mail interview: “the results of publicly funded research should be available to the public.”
Dawson “learned a huge amount” working for the scholarly publisher De Gruyter. But “in my discussions with potential authors I could come up with fewer and fewer arguments why they should publish their work with a traditional publisher,” she writes. “Instead of trying to hold off the future, I wanted to shape it.”
So she jumped to ScienceOpen, cofounded by a former De Gruyter colleague.
Like the pioneering open-access publisher PLOS, “we do not select [articles] for impact,” Dawson writes. “If it is reasonable science, we will publish it.” Also like PLOS, ScienceOpen charges authors a publication fee, currently $800. (PLOS fees range from $1,350 to $2,900.)
But ScienceOpen's peer review system is different: “We publish the article first and then carry out the peer-review in a completely open and transparent way, with referee names and comments available to everyone,” Dawson writes. “This saves time for the researchers” and gives them more say in the process, with continuing opportunities to revise their work based on comments from other scientists.
In another twist, ScienceOpen offers not only publishing but also a platform allowing researchers to collaborate from around the globe. That dimension echoes ResearchGate, a venture that's also based in Berlin and backed by Bill Gates. Like ResearchGate and unlike PLOS, ScienceOpen is a for-profit company.
“Inspiration for taking a risk” came from Yale classmate Andrew McLaughlin ’91, “whose cool projects at betaworks I had been following,” Dawson says. She also notes that Yale School of Medicine professor Pramod Bonde is a member of ScienceOpen's editorial board and one of its soon-to-be-published authors.
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