From The Guardian:
For an aspiring scientist, being published in a creditable journal is a major step towards gaining respect in the field. But for Mark Hahnel, founder and CEO of Figshare, this old system was drastically in need of an update. “The internet was built for sharing academic data but the way scientific papers are published had hardly changed since the early days of the printing press,” he says.
In 2011, Hahnel was studying for a PhD in stem cell biology at Imperial College London, but grew frustrated when it came to getting his work published. In particular, there was no way to publish non-written formats.
“All my data was graphs, datasets and video, but when I went to publish this I realised that a lot of publications weren’t set up to handle anything but papers,” he says. “I was spending all weekend creating videos and frustrated that I couldn’t publish them.”
Hahnel saw an opportunity to both help aspiring scientists and improve the quality of debate in science. Using WordPress and “some basic Python” [computer code] he set up Figshare – initially to publish his own work. But he soon found there were others in the scientific community who saw it as advantageous.
“Academia is very cut-throat. People need to get published and receive citations in order to get jobs and funding,” he says. “But also I think a lot of younger students get it, as they’ve grown up with the internet and think things should be open and collaborative.”
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Hahnel says he was inspired by sites such as Github and Flickr and wanted to create something comparable for research science. However, there have been some technical hurdles to overcome. For instance, academic papers require footnotes that link to other sources, but this can be difficult to do online as URLs are often reorganised and this can lead to broken links. The developers at Figshare created Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) that find the new address of a page if it is moved.
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But the most important aspect of Figshare is that it has created a model that disrupts the current method, where universities pay publishers to see the work that they have created. According to STM, the trade association for academic and professional publishers, its members’ revenues are worth roughly $10bn (£7bn) annually and the industry employs more than 100,000 people worldwide. And although well known journals such as Nature, Science and Cell are much sought after, there are more than 28,000 English-language science publications to choose from.
“I’ve published three papers but I don’t have access to them because I’m not a university,” Hahnel says. “The top ten publishers were paid over £430m by universities between 2010-14 so that they could access their own content.”
Figshare has two revenue streams: it provides universities with the means to publish online – universities are given mini Figshares which let students self-publish – and it provides cloud solutions for publishers to host and publish data.
Link to the rest at The Guardian