eLife's Schekman to 'boycott mainstream journals'

Nobel Prize-winning biologist Randy Schekman—also editor of open access digital journal eLife—has said he will no longer publish his research in the three leading scientific journals. He has argued that the fact the journals are print–based means they restrict the number of papers they can publish.

Schekman, a US scientist who will receive the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology in Stockholm today (10th December), said he would no longer be sending papers to Nature, Cell or Science.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme this morning, Schekman said young scholars felt pressure to publish in one of those three prestigious journals but many could not get a look-in because of strict limits on the number of papers published. "They are fine journals but modelled on a print version, with limited space," Schekman said. "If your work doesn't fit [that space], you are out of luck. Many fine papers are discouraged or left for over a year. It builds up a log jam."

Schekman edits the free peer-reviewed online journal eLife, backed by open access advocate the Wellcome Trust. He encouraged the journals to publish more material digitally, to make the research more accessible.

He wrote in the Guardian: "Just as Wall Street needs to break the hold of bonus culture . . .  so science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals."

Dr Andrew Sugden, deputy editor of Science, defended the journal on "Today", and said that it had begin to publish research papers online. He added: "We welcome the addition of new journals as adding to the mix and I think these journals should be seeking more of a common cause to encourage an atmosphere where younger researchers don't feel pressured to publish."