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The Problem with Publishing

At The Scientist, University of Bristol researcher Michael Taylor says the academic publishing system is "broken." Publishers have expressed their displeasure with the proposed Federal Research Public Access Act, a bill that would make publicly funded research available to the public. But why are they so adamantly against it, Taylor asks. The government uses tax revenue to fund university research groups, the researchers do the work and write the papers, unpaid peer reviewers volunteer to make sure the papers are well-written, and then the finished product is given to journals to publish. "The author signs away copyright. The publisher then formats the manuscript and places the result behind a paywall. Then it sells subscriptions back to the universities where the work originated," Taylor says. "And the taxpayers who funded all this? They get nothing at all. No access to the paper. It's pretty outrageous."

However, he adds, that is starting to change. Open-access journal options are becoming "more common and more attractive," he says, and the increasing costs of traditional publishing are pushing more researchers in the open-access direction. "We are heading for a moment when all paths lead uphill to a more attractive publishing paradigm," Taylor says. "In the long run, then, it might even be that the more exploitative subscriptions become, the better off the scientific community will be."

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.