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In their paper “Decoupling the scholarly journal” Jason Priem and Bradley M. Hemminger propose a completely unleashed form of publishing.

They assume the rise of “more diverse and decentralized metajournal”. “In this decoupled journal, authors will publish any sort of product they create. They will adapt their work’s form and make it retrievable with the help of external service providers.”

“Hundreds or thousands of competing stamping and ranking agencies and algorithms” will establish the new rules. “And all this data will be managed, organized, and curated by a set of relevance and ranking tools that will present customized views of the metajournal for scholars, practitioners, and administrators alike.”

As a critical point they guess, “publishers and (…) academics to begin selling peer review as a service that can be a one-for-one replacement for journal peer review. So, the “service of peer review” decoupled from the other functions… . “This in turn will lead to greater awareness of this approach’s advantages, gradually encouraging the academy to adopt the deconstructed journal.”

It seems to me that the fall of the classical journals is inevitable. Too slow, too expensive, too static to meet the current need for fast evolving web-media. If the metajournals are useful is not the question, but they highlight the routes future publishing might follow.

And most of these have little to do with the style of publishing we know from the past decades.