An Unashamed Sales Pitch
I'm still in the process of drafting, re-drafting and solidifying my thoughts. Feedback? Ideas? DM me.
Medical papers are interesting, but they’re hard reads.
Imagine you want to learn about an exciting topic in Medicine — say artificial intelligence in cardiology. You might go on Google Scholar and read some of the top papers.
Maybe you managed to get through five papers this afternoon — but how do you know you read the right stuff?
That Nature paper you read sounded legit, but it was from 2007. Surely there’s newer stuff?
Let’s borrow from Spotify. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the interesting, impactful papers were curated into playlists? And what if a world leading cardiology Professor picked all of these papers?
OK that’s pretty cool, you found some interesting papers. But whilst reading these papers — you spent hours traversing terms that only sub-sub-specialists really understand.
Even worse, you’ve spent 90% of your time reading stuff that’s not really important to you. You just wanted the key points and instead you read three pages on methodology. Urgh.
But you’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s either this 5000-word medical paper, or a clickbait news article.
What about a plain English summary — which instead of explaining just about everything — explains just enough?
That’s the short term vision. And there’s a medium term vision as well. But let me tell you about the long term vision.
Scientific publishing in Medicine and the life sciences is broken. Governments fund research, which scientists carry out and submit to journals for free — and then journals charge those same people to read their own research. Journals even ask other scientists to fact check the research for them, for free (peer review).
Journals then paywall the research, ensuring that only people with $$$ can access it. They actually hamper science.
Let’s Cut out the Middleman
I think an enormous amount of our media ecosystem today is actually something where the product is terrible, but they’ve got a lot of great legacy distribution.
Medical and life science journals are poor products which have a lot of legacy distribution built in.
But not even that distribution is insurmountable. Their real moat is prestige.
Much of academia is based on the prestige of journals you can publish in. Jobs, promotions, tenure — your research needs to be being published in top journals.
There’s no doubt that you can create a better product for consumers — that part is easy. But how can you challenge decades of legacy distribution and prestige — and convince scientists to publish their research with you?
Show me the Incentive
Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome
Publishing in a top journal is not the Holy Grail. 10,000 other scientists will read your work and then the world will move on.
Really, scientists want real world impact. They want ordinary people to read their research. Journalists. Policymakers. Investors.
Breaking the moat requires:
1) Make publishing quick and pain-free. MedRxiv showed this can work.
2) Demonstrate that publishing with us will lead to real world impact. Policymakers will read and act on your research. Journalists will now understand and correctly report your work. Your subsequent New York Times piece will be picked up by the leader of an NGO.
3) More people reading, understanding and disseminating your work will lead to more citations.
Easier said than done
You can watch our progress on ExplainThisPaper.com.