My First Publon! On Drop Splashes …

I just created my first Publon! It reviews a paper in which drops are filmed bouncing from surfaces with record-low contact times. For someone whose experience to date consists predominantly of anonymous peer review (both giving and taking) in subscription-model journals, this is a scary step into the unknown! I have chickened out a bit and reviewed a Nature paper that I quite like (so, it’s a good review), but I have tried to point out some limitations of the work.

Publons ambitiously calls itself “The Future of Academic Publishing”. Why not? The general idea is that publishing, review and discussion of scientific literature can take place openly (i.e. not anonymously), encouraging greater transparency and collaboration. Researchers are awarded points on the basis of their contribution, and others’ perceptions of their contribution. It’s taking the open-access publishing movement a couple of steps further; there are obviously practical elements to be sorted out, and the site needs to get a critical mass of users and journals signed up, but the concept is a good one.  Publons participated in the Lightning Lab last year and received some investment as a result.

The founder of Publons is Dr Andrew Preston, who graduated from Vic Uni with a physics PhD in 2010 and spent some time as a Postdoc in the US. Obviously these experiences inspired him to try to do something about academic publishing! He’s an alumnus of The MacDiarmid Institute, a very direct example of one of our graduates contributing to NZ entrepreneurship, and he’s been a good role model for our current students. This one data point suggests that 3 or 4 years post-graduation is realistic to get a startup up and running.

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