I’m personally a self-published author. Some published authors might look down on me for that but mine wasn’t a ‘vanity’ publishing and I’ve sold enough copies of one novel for it to be a ‘bestseller’. An author might want to self-publish for any one of several reasons but for academic publishing and scientific research publishing, there are more hoops to jump through.
One big difference between my publishing my own fiction novel and publishing an academic work is that I don’t need a group of my fellow authors to give my story a nice thumbs up. For the scientific research or academic publication, the author’s peers need to be in the loop to give the necessary credibility. A reputable scientific, research or academic journal will not publish until the findings or results are backed up by qualified sources. A scientific researcher or academic that published without peer approval would not be taken as reputable.
There is a grey area between actually publishing the scientific research or academic work and making it available for peer critiques. The academic or scientist will often undertake this step on his or her own, in making the publication available for study before final publication. The work should be as close to ready for publishing as possible and it should be professionally edited for brevity, continuity, grammar, and spelling. The scientist or academic then puts the work on the web where peers can look over the material and give the work their approval.
The main reason why it’s grey area is because the whole academic and scientific journal system has been in the process of evolving since the Internet and digital era of publishing. To be more honest though, the academic journal and publishing system has been in need of complete refurbishing for a lot longer than that.
The reason why I started this article by comparing fiction authoring and vanity self-publish to academic and science research self-publishing is because that may just be the way the system is moving now. Some scientific and research journals are still of top caliber and they are keeping the process pure. But others are getting into it for the money and when that happens, standards can’t help but drop. When peers start reviewing on the basis of how much they’re being paid to review and less on validity then where is the real scientific or academic value in the review?
When a researcher can pay to have peers affix positive reviews, like fiction authors can pay to have tame critics offer favorable reviews, the system is in question. As a fiction author I wouldn’t pay for a good review and it really doesn’t make much of a difference anyways, but an academic paper or scientific research publication it can make a huge monetary and / or credibility difference.
But what if I did? What if I wrote a complete fiction in the form of a scientific research paper to publish. I self publish it on the web and pay for favorable peer reviews and I’ve made total fiction into accepted scientific fact.