Author Archives: Michael Eisen

The Mission Bay Manifesto on Science Publishing

Earlier this week I gave a seminar at UCSF. In addition to my usual scientific spiel, I decided to end my talk with a proposal to UCSF faculty for action that could take make scholarly communication better. This is something I used to do a lot, but have mostly stopped doing since my entreaties rarely produce tangible […]

Posted in EisenLab, open access | 16 Responses


A couple of weeks ago I unintentionally set off a bit of a firestorm regarding Wikipedia, Elsevier and open access. I was scanning my Twitter feed, as one does, and came upon a link to an Elsevier press release: Elsevier access donations help Wikipedia editors improve science articles: With free access to ScienceDirect, top editors can ensure that […]

Posted in open access, Wikipedia | 5 Responses

Thoughts on Ron Vale’s ‘Accelerating Scientific Publication in Biology’

Ron Vale has posted a really interesting piece on BioRxiv arguing for changes in scientific publishing. The piece is part data analysis, examining differences in publishing in several journals and among UCSF graduate students from 1980 to today, and part perspective, calling for the adoption of a culture of “pre-prints” in biology, and the expanded […]

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Sympathy for the Devil?

My Facebook feed is awash with people standing up for Tim Hunt: “The witch hunt against Tim Hunt is unbearable and disgraceful”, “This is how stupidity turns into big damage. Bad bad bad”, “Regarding the Tim Hunt hysteria”, and so on. Each of these posts has prompted a debate between people who think a social […]

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Elsevier admits they’re a major obstacle for women scientists in the developing world

I just received the following announcement from Elsevier: Nominations opened today for the Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World, a high-profile honor for scientific and career achievements by women from developing countries in five regions: Latin America and theCaribbean; the Arab region; Sub-Saharan Africa; Central and South Asia; and East […]

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Pachter’s P-value Prize’s Post-Publication Peer-review Paradigm

Several weeks ago my Berkeley colleague Lior Pachter posted a challenge on his blog offering a prize for computing a p-value for a claim made in a 2004 Nature paper. While cheeky in its formulation, Pachter had an important point – he believed that a claim from this paper was based on faulty reasoning, and the p-value prize […]

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The inevitable failure of parasitic green open access

At the now famous 2001 meeting that led to the Budapest Open Access Initiative – the first time the many different groups pushing to make scholarly literature freely available assembled – a serious rift emerged that almost shattered the open access movement in its infancy. On one side were people like me (representing the nascent Public Library of Science) and […]

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Ending gender-based harassment in peer review

A few days ago Fiona Ingleby, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sussex (she’s an evolutionary biologist who works on sex-specific behavior and other phenotypes in Drosophila) sent out a series of Tweets reporting on a horrifically sexist review she had received after submitting a paper to PLOS ONE.  Shocking reviewer comments received for our MS on […]

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PLOS is anti-elitist! PLOS is elitist! The weird world of open access journalism.

In 2005 I submitted an essay about science publishing to a political magazine. I got a polite reply back saying that the article was interesting and the issue important but that my approach wasn’t right for them. My piece was too straightforward. Too persuasive. They preferred articles that had a simple “hook” and, most importantly, were “counterintuitive”. Zoom […]

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Is Nature’s “free to view” a magnanimous gesture or a cynical ploy?

Macmillan, the publisher of Nature and 48 other Nature Publishing Group (NPG) journals, announced today that all research papers published in these journals would be “made free to read in a proprietary screen-view format that can be annotated but not copied, printed or downloaded”. If you believe, as I do, that paywalls that restrict the free […]

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