A New Scientific Publishing System: ROSA

To address some of the challenges of the current scientific publishing system, which were outlined earlier, a new scientific publishing system is proposed: Research Output Sharing as an Asset (ROSA). The aim of ROSA is to facilitate scientific publishing through decentralized internet technologies (“Web3”), enabling a new authorship, distribution and related economic model of scientific publishing, a new governance system, and a new business model for publishers.

Blockchains and Decentralized Hosting

Web3, or the decentralized internet (including blockchains), offer a new infrastructure for managing scientific publishing. Starting with the basics, crypto wallets can be used for the authentication of users (authors, reviewers, editors, etc.), and these same wallets can be used to charge users a fee, or compensate them for their contributions. The wallets can also hold special tokens (like NFTs), providing users with ownership, or particular rights, privileges and recognition. Such systems would be transparent and can be administered through a blockchain. Yet they can also be provided anonymously, and users are not required to always reveal their real-world identity.

In a similar way, scientific papers can be distributed on the decentralized web, through technologies such as BitTorrent and IPFS, ensuring scientific papers are better preserved, freely distributed and free from censorship.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

A fast-emerging technology in the blockchain realm are smart contracts, which can be used as governance protocols for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). Scientific journals are well-suited for such an approach, because their governance system is quite well established and they are already operating as decentralized organizations, with editors, authors and reviewers spread throughout the world. A smart contract could regulate the journal, keeping its ownership and control in the hands of its editorial team and/or other stakeholders. It is likely that a few different smart contracts (governance models) might emerge to suit the needs of different journals and disciplines.

Publishing as a Service (PaaS)

In a system where the distribution of scientific papers is decentralized and journals are owned and governed by a DAO, the role of the scientific publisher has changed. Rather than being the owner of the journal and all its content, the publisher becomes a service provider, providing the IT infrastructure for a scientific journal to operate. This could be a service not dissimilar to that of a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) provider: Publishing as a Service (PaaS).

Assuming that the internal economy of the journal operates on some kind of blockchain-based token system, the PaaS provider could take a share of journal revenue in the cryptocurrency being used.

Next: A New Business Model: Publishing-as-a-Service.