Why Academic Research Should Be Freely Available to All

Why Academic Research Should Be Freely Available to All
đź‘‹ Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

This week, the University of California announced that they cancelled the Elsevier subscription for academic journals. Elsevier refused to lower their fees and make UC articles open access available. This is a significant move as the University of California is one of the biggest producers of academic articles – with 50.000 articles per year. However, for many, this move might not have been very relevant. Therefore, some background information is required.

As I discussed earlier, the publication process of scientific papers is flawed. Commercial publishers such as Elsevier, Springer-Nature, Wolters-Kluwer, Taylor-Francis or Sage control the world of academic publishing. Together they share the $32 billion market. Because they do not have to pay for the product they sell, their product margin is higher than Google or Facebook. For decades, researchers have complained about this process, because as soon as academics want to publish their articles, which were paid for by tax money, they are required to give away their copyright to the academic publishers.

The problems with the publication of academic papers have been around for decades. They have been very well documented in a recent 55-minute documentary. Paywall: The Business of Scholarship shows the massive problems we face. It is a must-see for anyone with interest in research and the problems the industry faces.


Paywall: The Business of Scholarship (Full Movie) CC BY 4.0 from Paywall The Movie

Imagjn a Solution to Enable Open Access for All

Science drives innovation. Unfortunately, as the documentary clearly shows, scientific knowledge is locked behind closed doors. The current system requires academics to publish in high impact journals. This is inefficient knowledge sharing. It is slow, bureaucratic and requires academics to give away their copyright. Above all, it is very expensive. The University of California pays $11 million per year in such fees.  Often, this is public money to obtain access to research which was paid by the university in the first place. Money that could have been spent on research.

Imagjn open knowledge, where everybody has access to all scientific papers without artificial barriers such as paywalls. To do that, we have to change the rules in how we judge scientific impact. We should no longer focus on where someone publishes. Instead, we should focus on what someone publishes.

Therefore, we want to move from a Journal Impact factor to an individual impact factor, controlled and owned by academics. The individual impact factor will combine more variables than just writing papers. It will also incorporate the quality of peer reviews and other academic contributions. This formula will be open source to ensure full transparency and give back control over their career to the academics.

We develop a platform that simplifies writing, citing, reviewing and publishing scientific papers, making knowledge freely available to anyone. We are working together with universities and funders to change the rules of the game.

Imagjn – Open Knowledge

With Imagjn we have solutions for the three major problems in academic publishing. Once our platform is live, we will offer academics a streamlined process to publish and share their knowledge with the world. The four main benefits of Imagjn will be:

  1. An improved and accelerated publication and blind peer review process, from 6-12 months to 2-6 weeks, resulting in more published papers for universities and academics;
  2. A platform to easily collaborate on academic papers through an integrated cloud-based citation/editing package;
  3. Migrating from a Journal Impact Factor to an Individual Impact Factor (IIF), where control and ownership lie with the academics and universities and not with the publishers. An IIF makes valorisation easier for universities;
  4. Research that has been done with public money must be publicly available. Imagjn makes academic research publicly available and universities will eventually save millions per year on commercial academic licenses and article processing costs (APCs).

Bringing the Scientific Method to the 21st Century

We live in exponential times, and it is key that the internet evolves to the new decentralised paradigm, where data is controlled and owned by the user, collaboration is key and artificial intelligence governs most of the online systems. For too long, the scientific method, which is the backbone of all the innovation in the modern world, has not evolved and remains tightly controlled by an oligopoly of scientific publishers. It is time for change.

Advances in technologies such as Big Data, Blockchain and AI have now made it possible to change the scientific method and bring it into the 21st century, giving back control and ownership to academics and universities, speeding up the process of writing, reviewing and publishing scientific knowledge and sharing that with the global public.

Imagjn aims to be the backbone of the improved version of the scientific method, offering academics, universities, papers and non-academics an immutable, verifiable and traceable Individual Impact Factor that they control, enabling them to effortlessly collaborate with each other across time and space, in a decentralised, secure and transparent way. This will foster innovation. Help us to achieve this vision by supporting Imagjn.

Image: Chuckstock/Shutterstock

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr. Mark van Rijmenam is a strategic futurist known as The Digital Speaker. He stands at the forefront of the digital age and lives and breathes cutting-edge technologies to inspire Fortune 500 companies and governments worldwide. As an optimistic dystopian, he has a deep understanding of AI, blockchain, the metaverse, and other emerging technologies, and he blends academic rigour with technological innovation.

His pioneering efforts include the world’s first TEDx Talk in VR in 2020. In 2023, he further pushed boundaries when he delivered a TEDx talk in Athens with his digital twin , delving into the complex interplay of AI and our perception of reality. In 2024, he launched a digital twin of himself offering interactive, on-demand conversations via text, audio or video in 29 languages, thereby bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds – another world’s first.

As a distinguished 5-time author and corporate educator, Dr Van Rijmenam is celebrated for his candid, independent, and balanced insights. He is also the founder of Futurwise , which focuses on elevating global digital awareness for a responsible and thriving digital future.


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