Scholarly research faces threats to its sustainability on multiple domains (access, incentives, reproducibility, inclusivity). We argue that “after-the-fact” research papers do not help and actually cause some of these threats because the chronology of the research cycle is lost in a research paper. We propose to give up the academic paper and propose a digitally native “as-you-go” alternative. In this design, modules of research outputs are communicated along the way and are directly linked to each other to form a network of outputs that can facilitate research evaluation. This embeds chronology in the design of scholarly communication and facilitates the recognition of more diverse outputs that go beyond the paper (e.g., code, materials). Moreover, using network analysis to investigate the relations between linked outputs could help align evaluation tools with evaluation questions. We illustrate how such a modular “as-you-go” design of scholarly communication could be structured and how network indicators could be computed to assist in the evaluation process, with specific use cases for funders, universities, and individual researchers.
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