Orvium: Fighting Elsevier with Blockchain

Elsevier, the publishing giant, embodies everything wrong with the scientific publishing industry today. Its practices actively harm science and scientific progress, harming human progress as collateral. It has staggeringly high margins – more than Apple and Google! That’s not entirely surprising. After all, it is in the business of taking content from scientists for free, making them review for free, and then charging for that content. These journals have simply become walled gardens for science and progress that rightly belongs to us all.

Of course, there is a lot wrong with the way science is done from the choice of statistics to replication issues. However, journal publication for the sciences ranks up top as one of the most important issues facing the industry today.

Blockchain to the Rescue?

To be sure, we don’t believe there is an easy solution to these problems. Scientists still publish in these journals, even if they don’t want to, because everyone else judges them by the ‘prestige’ of these journals. It is a huge issue in general, one that rivals Moloch. There won’t be easy solutions.

However, a blockchain based solution can offer a way, and lessons to learn on the way for even better systems for the future.

So what is Orvium’s idea? To make all the scientific papers open access, and use the blockchain to track all the ‘metadata’ such as peer review and any changes done to the articles. In addition, the articles themselves, and the corresponding data for the research, are published on decentralized storage systems, so no one party is in control of the world’s information.

Also, Orvium gives the scientists a choice of licensing, so things don’t necessarily need to be free for all uses. It is, after all, up to the scientists and government (that usually funds a lot of work) to determine how to disseminate the information from these projects. Transparency is the blockchain hallmark, and so is science’s.

In fact, the Orvium system is so designed that you can make your own journal. That’s right – scientists can get together and create their own journals. This is because Orvium offers low-cost alternatives to existing systems. This is important for competition. Then, you as a journal creator, don’t need to charge a lot of money for access. We can live in a world of more decentralized journals. That world will contain better systems for everyone since there is no monopoly on new knowledge. The papers and research will still be accessible to everyone. If you want to run a journal, you can provide curation services, peer-review, etc. You can even make a profit, but not form a monopoly. That’s indeed the best of capitalism as well.

If you want to learn more about Orvium, check out their website and whitepaper.

Photo Credit: sky noir

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