Stanford Researcher Calls for Consortium to Reject 'Glam Journals' After AlphaFold3 Hype

Stanford Researcher Calls for Consortium to Reject 'Glam Journals' After AlphaFold3 Hype

Mason Harper
4 min read

Scientific Consortium Urged to Ditch "Glam Journals" Following AlphaFold3 Hype

A recent email from Anshul Kundaje, an influential voice within the scientific research community, an Associate Professor of Genetics and of Computer Science of Stanford, has ignited a discussion about the impact of high-profile journals on research publication practices. The email (see full text at the bottom of this page) calls upon a large scientific consortium to reject the influence of so-called "glam journals" in the wake of the overhyped AlphaFold3 "publication" in Nature. Kundaje’s message criticizes the exploitative nature of prestigious journals and urges the scientific community to embrace open-access alternatives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Critique of High-Profile Journals: Kundaje's email highlights how prestigious journals, termed "glam journals," impose exploitative publication practices on researchers.
  2. AlphaFold3 and Commercial Interests: The AlphaFold3 release is criticized as an example of commercial players gaining undue influence in scientific publishing.
  3. Call to Action: The email encourages the consortium to reject high-profile journals and support open-access publication formats.
  4. Support for Small Research Labs: Kundaje emphasizes the risk small labs face and urges the consortium to leverage its resources to support equitable publishing.


Kundaje’s email, sent to a major scientific consortium, emphasizes the pervasive impact of high-profile journals on scientific publishing practices. He argues that these journals impose exploitative publication standards, offering minimal support for struggling academics and labs while prioritizing corporate interests. His specific mention of AlphaFold3's publication in Nature highlights concerns about the growing influence of commercial players on scientific discourse.

The "Glam Journal" Problem:

  • Double Standards and Ethical Issues: Prestigious journals are criticized for maintaining double standards, chasing high-impact work while disregarding ethical concerns.
  • Overhyped Publications: The release of Google's AlphaFold3 in Nature serves as a recent example, where commercial interests and publicity overshadowed scientific rigor.
  • Financial Exploitation: Kundaje underscores the financial burden on small research labs struggling to fund their science and pay decent salaries due to exorbitant publication fees.

Consortium's Role in Change:

  • Visibility and Resources: Kundaje urges the consortium to harness its visibility and resources to challenge the status quo in scientific publishing.
  • Rejecting "Glam Bump": He encourages them to abandon the perceived prestige of high-profile journals and instead support affordable, open-access publication options.
  • Inspiring Change: By leading the way with flagship papers, Kundaje believes the consortium can inspire a wider movement against exploitative publishing practices.

Did You Know?:

  1. Publication Costs: High-profile journals can charge thousands of dollars per publication, often leaving researchers with limited funding.
  2. Open-Access Movement: The open-access movement seeks to make scientific knowledge freely available, challenging the traditional journal subscription model.
  3. AlphaFold3 Hype: Despite the publicity, AlphaFold3’s actual release revealed less practical functionality than initially promised.

Conclusion: Anshul Kundaje's call to action represents a growing sentiment within the research community to break free from exploitative publishing norms. By leveraging its influence, the consortium could indeed become a pioneer, helping lead the scientific community toward more equitable and open dissemination of knowledge. Whether it will answer Kundaje's call remains to be seen.

The Original Letter:

** Will we be pioneers? **

Dear big consortium,

It is never too late to be brave and use all that visibility you have to make a strong statement that academia will not be held hostage by glam journals & their shiny JIFs

They (we!) continue ripping us off as we struggle to pay junior academics decent salaries & as we struggle to find funding to do actual science

They have never been an equitable system for scientific evaluation. And now they're further pushing ethical boundaries with double standards desperately chasing high impact work from powerful commercial players (Most recent one: AlphaFold3 "publication" in Nature)

It's difficult & risky for small fish individuals & individual labs to make the first moves cuz there is a lot at stake with abandoning what is often (not always) considered critical to win the rat races.

But you consortia, you have scale, you have visibility, you have built in publicity, you always have massive impact with the resources you create. Your marker papers and flagship papers don't need the glam bump!

Be pioneers! Don't shovel 100,000s of tax payer dollars into the massive profit pockets of the corps. who own these journals. Abandon the glam journals. Support cheap, open access options.

You can lead the way with your flagship papers and encourage your consortium members with companion papers to follow! Collectively the package can and will stand on it's own without the glam bump!

Spend some of the amount you collectively save on productive, measured publicity. There are so many creative ways to make waves rather than dumping an overpriced, word limited PDF in some shiny corner of the internet.

I believe in consortia! We can do it! Just one of us consortia need to do it! And it will open the flood gates. Will the real slim shady consortium please stand up? Will it be us?

Sincerely, A consortium junkie

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