Can we get off the “gold standard” of academic publishing?

Dec 13, 2012, 9:51 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Paul Tarini Paul Tarini

We have witnessed tremendous innovation growth over the last several decades. However, with change comes the need to adjust traditional practices that are standard in health and health care. The academic publishing model is no exception.

The current model of academic publishing treats traditional clinical trials as the gold standard for what gets published. Health and health care observers have long argued that focusing on trial results slows down the process of discovery and hinders practice innovation. In addition, the economics of this traditional publishing model are being challenged in our new reality of online, open-access publishing.

But what is the solution? Can we accelerate how we review and disseminate information without compromising the value of the traditional model? How can we improve on what has become the “gold standard” of academic publishing?

To try to develop a new publishing model, we teamed up with The American Journal of Preventive Medicine to employ an open innovation approach to test novel publishing, peer review, and engagement activities through the Childhood Obesity Challenge. Launched in July, the challenge is designed to discover new strategies to reduce or prevent childhood obesity, while at the same time providing an outlet for ideas that the traditional publishing model may not capture. This includes creative ideas and programs that come from outside the world of academia or that may not yet be backed by volumes of research. If this model is successful, we hope it will create new pathways for information that will enable academic journals to gather, synthesize, evaluate, and disseminate practical information about interventions.

The challenge will continue as a series of competitions that focus on different aspects of reducing or preventing childhood obesity, a field in which academics and practitioners are highly engaged and interested in learning about potential interventions earlier in development.

Learn about round one winners and take a look at the round two submission gallery. The next competitions in the series are planned for January 15 through February 28, 2013, and again from March 15 through April 30, 2013.

Tell us what you think about how to improve the current publishing model here, or tweet us at @pioneerrwjf.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.