A new cryptocurrency project is planning to reinvent academic publishing, and help students get very “high” grades indeed. The Dash Decentralized Autonomous Organization, which dispenses community funds for the fourteenth-largest cryptocurrency, recently voted to begin funding for a project that will publish a cannabis genome to a blockchain – and reward scientists for peer review.
Why publish a genome to the blockchain? It helps prevent agribusiness from claiming a patent to the genome in the future, is the short answer. And by committing science projects to the chain, the hope is that genuine scientific research won’t be usurped by either corporations or patent trolls, since the ledger is immutable and transparent. In the USA, where civil lawsuits usually end up with each side paying its own costs, the blockchain could be a huge win for scientists looking to prove the originality of their research before the matter ever gets to a patent fight.
Last month the DAO approved the first of five monthly payments of 30 Dash ($8098 USD). According to the proposal, the funds will be used to “sequence a controversial Cannabis genome and publish it using a novel crypto-incentivized, crypto-recorded peer review process that will cut out the $25B Scientific publishing market.”
The latter goal is likely to resonate in academia, where publishers have a captive and very lucrative market. Although universities are notionally non-profit, publishing is a different story, and the next time you complain about student loans, save some of the blame for Elsevier. Neither publishers, reviewers nor editors are paid, and the savings are passed on to the universities in journal subscriptions. “Pretty much the only link between academic publishing and your bank account is the fact that you won’t get a job if you don’t publish,” one underpaid scholar complained.
“Peer review is broken,” writes Kevin McKernan, the author of the proposal, in the Medicinal Genomics blog. “50% of Scientific manuscript’s experiments can’t be reproduced. The journals with the higher impact factor have a higher retraction rate.”
Instead, the genomics proposal will pioneer a novel system of incentivized peer reviews, based on the Dash blockchain. The genome sequence will be coded to the blockchain, along with cryptocurrency rewards for peer reviewers. “Crypto-incentivized, blockchain transparent peer review will dis-intermediate this market and re-align the incentive models for higher accuracy, more transparency and …..