Over the last thirty years, digitally-networked technologies have disrupted traditional media, turning business models on their head and changing the conditions for the creation, packaging and distribution of content. Yet, scholarly communication still looks remarkably as it did in the pre-digital age. The primary unit of dissemination remains the research article (or book in some disciplines), and today’s articles still bear a remarkable resemblance to those that populated the pages of Oldenburg’s Philosophical Transactions 350 years ago. In an age of such disruptive innovation, it is striking how little digital technologies have impacted scholarly publishing; and this is also somewhat ironic, since the Web was developed by scientists for research purposes.
Pubfair is a conceptual model for a modular open source publishing framework which builds upon a distributed network of repositories to enable the dissemination and quality-control of a range of research outputs including publications, data, and more. Pubfair aims to introduce significant innovation into scholarly publishing. It enables different stakeholders (funders, institutions, scholarly societies, individuals scientists) to access a suite of functionalities to create their own dissemination channels, with built in open review and transparent processes. The model minimizes publishing costs while maintaining academic standards by connecting communities with iterative publishing services linked to their preferred repository. Such a publishing environment has the capacity to transform the scholarly communication system, making it more research-centric, dissemination-oriented and open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.