Publish research for free, access research for free.
Table of Contents
- What is Aletheia?
- Why does this project exist?
- That's a terrible problem! How do we solve it?
- But open access journals already exist. How is Aletheia different?
- So we get science to the people in a decentralised manner. How will this change things?
- Is it all about science?
- This sounds amazing! Can I join?
- So I can be a part of this community. How do I start?
- Who will I be interacting with once I join?
- Can I contact Aletheia and/or follow Aletheia on social media?
- Are there other ways I can support without volunteering?
- How is Aletheia licensed?
First thing's first, what is Aletheia?
In short, Aletheia is software for getting science published and into the hands of everyone, for free. It's a decentralised and distributed database used as a publishing platform for scientific research.
So, Aletheia is software. But software without people is nothing. To comprehensively answer the question what is Aletheia, Aletheia is software surrounded by a community of people who want to change the world through open access to scientific knowledge.
For a more in depth explanation, Aletheia is an Ethereum Blockchain application utilising IPFS for decentralised storage that anyone can upload documents to, download documents from, that also handles the academic peer review process. The application runs on individual PCs, all forming part of the IPFS database. This gives us an open source platform that cannot be bought out by the large publishers (and any derivatives of the platform source code must also be open source) that should also be hard to take down due to database nodes being spread across the globe in multiple legal jurisdictions. Aletheia is designed to be a resilient platform run transparently by the community, not some black box corporation or editorial board, meaning all users can see the decisions Aletheia is making and have a stake in that decision making process if they so desire. By this nature, Aletheia is decentralised, it has no key person risk. Should the core group who invented Aletheia disappear Aletheia won't cease to exist, it will continue to be run by the community. The community moderates content through various mechanisms (peer review, reputation scores etc.,) to ensure quality of content.
For those who would rather a visual explanation:
OK, so why does this project exist?
A large percentage of scientific papers are published behind paywalls. That is to say, a huge segment of the world's population is cut off from scientific knowledge. Don't take our word for it. Here, here, here and here are some links to get you started on the problem. Paywalls entrench economic privilege, lower global standards and stifle global innovation. Humanity as an entire race loses out, and that means you. You lose, no matter who you are.
If you want a good primer to the problems surrounding academic publishing and how technology can be applied to them, set aside two hours to watch The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
That's a terrible problem! How do we solve it?
We open science up. Academic publishers host scientific research and organise the peer review process, there's no reason why a community of people can't do that. Aletheia is a publishing platform that handles peer review as well as a search engine for papers, anyone can publish through us, have their work peer reviewed, and access the entire Aletheia database, all for free.
We have the ability to create such software and we have the ability to organise a community around it, there is no reason we cannot build the world we want.
But open access journals already exist, how is Aletheia different?
Open access journals are scientific journals that do not restrict access to scientific information, and while Aletheia adheres to this principle it is different to existing open access journals in a number of ways. Open access journals often charge for publication to fund themselves, Aletheia is an open source project run by the money, time and computing power of volunteers, Aletheia has minimal overheads and is free to publish to. Open access journals are mostly centralised in many respects, having a single website users interact with to search for content, a single database storing the content, an opaque editorial board and sometimes even a closed peer review process. Aletheia has none of these things, it is a decentralised database distributed across community member PCs the world over, and is edited and peer reviewed by the community with a reputation system to drive quality of content. Aletheia is not beholden to any single interests and is literally in the hands (or computers!) of the community. Aletheia is YOURS.
So we get science to the people in a decentralised manner. How will this change things?
The community around Aletheia shares a common vision, to change the world. That sounds very lofty and vague, but this vision is very real and very achievable. For the founders of Aletheia, changing the world means giving everyone with an internet connection access to humanity's collective knowledge. This will do two things.
If schools and universities don't have to pay exorbitant fees for access to a narrow range research papers and instead have a wide range of papers available for free, students have more material and funds can go back into teaching. Quality of education is a large factor in social mobility.
If we have more people reading more scientific research, statistically there will be more people that put the dots together and discover scientific breakthroughs.
A faster rising middle class across the world coupled with more scientific breakthroughs leads us to a world we can scarcely imagine. The end of poverty, the halting of climate change, infinite renewable energy, unlocking the aging process, all of this is possible. The future lies before us, the founder's vision is let's make sure we get there, faster.
Changing the world for you could be as simple as preventing a loved one dying of cancer through an early detection test based on open access research, or it could be even bigger than the founder's vision. That's the beauty of it, the vision is yours, yours to share as part of a community looking to turn that personal vision into reality.
Is it all about science?
No, there is more to it. Science is the area we feel Aletheia can make the largest impact as fast as possible, but it's clear a free distributed and decentralised database designed for resilience has a number of applications. One of the goals of Aletheia is to prove this technology works so we can get to those other applications. Along with science, Aletheia is about advancing decentralised technology, making it open source and bringing it to multiple industries.
Another goal is to prove a new governance model. Aletheia is run by the community, its envisioned that the community with run clients that collectively form the Aletheia database, the community will vote on the contents of the database and what gets taken down. The community will propose, vote on a write new features of Aletheia. This notion of a group of people organising around a software platform that has no overarching governance structure is called a DAO, a decentralised autonomous organisation. DAOs already exist, but they aren't common currently. With Aletheia we want to prove that DAOs are viable and bring the idea of community governance to the mainstream.
This sounds amazing! Can I join?
Yes! Anyone and everyone can participate. Aletheia is currently under construction and we are seeking developers and designers to get the platform up on its feet and community organisers to coordinate efforts.
If you do have some design or technical skills, we are especially looking for:
- Web developers
- Front end designers
- Anyone familiar with decentralised technology, blockchain, solidity, anything like that
- Security engineers
If you're more of a people person, we are looking for:
- Social media managers
- Volunteer coordinators
- Media liaisons
- Grant proposal writers
- Technical writers
However, do not feel that you are limited to these roles. We are open to any form of contribution.
So I can be a part of this community.
How do I start?
Below are some useful resources:
- Aletheia whitepaper - this will give you a fully formed idea of the vision and goals of Aletheia.
- Our Lean Canvas build plan - the condensed version of our vision and goals.
- Code of Conduct - the Code of Conduct we expect all Aletheians to abide by.
- Contributor guidelines - if you're looking to contribute here are some guidelines and information about the structure of Aletheia to get you started.
- Roadmap - want to see where we're at in the project, or looking for open issues to contribute to? Look no further.
Who will I be interacting with once I join?
Aletheia was founded by two people, Kade and Roo. Kade sat down one day and decided he was going to do something about the problems plaguing academic publishing outlined in The Internet's Own Boy. He came up with the idea for a publishing platform that was run by a community, free for anyone to use and access. He spoke about his idea to Roo, the two decided to make the idea a reality, and how you're reading the README file on GitHub. Action can be that simple, and we invite you to join us.
Currently Aletheians interact over Slack. Drop an email to the below address if you would like an invite.
Can I contact Aletheia and/or follow Aletheia for news about the project, science and open access?
You can reach out to us on the below:
If you want to reach out to one of the founders individually:
Are there other ways I can support without volunteering?
Yes! You can support Aletheia on these platforms:
How is Aletheia licensed? Can I use the material and source code in these repos to make my own creation?
Aletheia was founded on the principle that knowledge and software should be open. In this spirit a large amount of Aletheia is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license and GNU General Public License v3.0 for materials and source code respectively. These licenses mean you can take Aletheia and create something else from it, however you must also make whatever you create open for others to do the same with. However, we have taken contents from other repositories to help create Aletheia, and this material is licensed differently. When forking Aletheia to create your own work be mindful that separate repositories are licensed differently.
Below is a list of our repositories and their licenses, you can check the LICENSE.md file in each repository for details:
- admin Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license
- aletheia-app GNU General Public License v3.0
- whitepaper Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license
- logo All Rights Reserved
- aletheia-foundation.github.io Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license
- events-and-outreach Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 license