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Adapting the model of scientific publishing

Denise Pumain
Cet article est une traduction de :
Adapter le modèle de l’édition scientifique
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Adaptar el modelo de la edición científica

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1Breakthrough innovations simultaneously spark off the invention of new functionalities and change practices. In this respect, the Internet captures the imagination. New applications are created every day. Many changes in practices associated to these are consistent with the suppression of functions or even networking institutions and lead to the emergence of new social structures, forms of representation and reference discourses, as is illustrated by Torsten Veblen’s theory on the leisure class. Whether it is apartment rental between private individuals which upsets the lodging system, car-sharing that disturbs car rental or taxi companies, new currencies which validate exchanges without recourse to banks, or even the provision of information and opinions to “friends” on places and locations, all these new functionalities have in common that they facilitate transactions, increase their speed and reduce their costs, while at the same time modifying the foundations of the intermediation ensuring their security.

2What transformations must we expect in the field of scientific publishing? Removing networking institutions and circumventing those which guarantee quality is seemingly not the best solution. When looking at the drifts caused by the ‘publish or perish’ injunction, by the substitution of article quality with quantity, by the exacerbated rivalries between journals in the race for impact coefficients, we can easily imagine that the dissolution of a responsible editorial board would be catastrophic. The proliferation of very incomplete articles in contrast to the state of the art, repetitive in comparison to prior unreferenced publications, made available online to allow for subsequent assessments which are in fact never done, all these unscrupulous practices lead to disaster because of an overload of irrelevant information and, as “bad money drives out good”, because of the substitution of scientific value with reputation and audience.

3By avoiding the propagation of these viruses, it is possible to better exploit the resources found on the Internet to best serve the collective knowledge and the general interest. New functionalities and new practices are emerging to which Cybergeo makes a contribution. So goes the scientific principal of the repeatability of experiences: although this principal is difficult to apply in the field of social and human sciences, it becomes easier with the development of simulation models. Simulation emerges as a substitute to experimentation and the progress in computer technology capacities helps to better imagine the complicated results of interactions revealed by exploratory analyses. By creating the new section Geopenmod, in which are demanded all the necessary information for the repetition of an experiment following a model, our journal paves the way in geography for further sharing of scientific approaches and to a peer-reviewed control of the quality of modelling techniques.

4But it is wrong to believe that this new functionality which guarantees quality is limited to the more formalized and quantified aspects of the discipline. In order to allow the smooth transition from data to information to knowledge, qualitative analyses can also be suitable for the sharing of the sources of information and for the opening up of databases that can in return regulate the different interpretations made on these analyses. The functionalities spawned by semantic analyses must also circumvent memory loss and remind and respect what has been scientifically produced by others. All this is subject to the vigilance and codes of ethics of our peers, gathered in a networked editorial collective with complementary skills.

  • 1 The international seminar “Open access: a scientific revolution for South countries?” was held in P (...)

5We are lucky that so many of these peers rely on us and that thanks to voluntary information- and experience-sharing mechanisms, our journal grows stronger. The one-million article downloads milestone was reached in 2014 and the map below, drawn by Hervé Théry, reveals a world-wide readership. The open access model chosen by Cybergeo enables some less connected countries to improve their access to scientific information and to give value to their data and studies as this was illustrated in a recent seminar for which the journal was a partner.1 To go further into this evolution, we launched an online interface in Spanish with the help of our colleages Josefina (Spain), Gloria (Argentina) and Francisco (Chili). This is a second birth for Cybergeo: created 19 years ago, always alert and ready to adapt, the longest-running electronic journal on social sciences corroborates its vocation and the data dissemination model is has chosen!

Number of webpages consulted in 2014

Pages consulted per million inhabitants

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1 The international seminar “Open access: a scientific revolution for South countries?” was held in Paris on March 12th 2015. The presentations are available here:

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Denise Pumain, « Adapting the model of scientific publishing », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 06 mai 2015, consulté le 25 juin 2018. URL :

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Denise Pumain

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