Preprints: Their Evolving Role in Science Communication

This briefing discusses the history and role of preprints in the biological sciences within the evolving open science landscape. The focus is on the explosive growth of preprints as a publishing model and the associated challenges of maintaining technical infrastructure and establishing sustainable business models. A preprint is a scholarly manuscript posted by the author(s) to a repository or platform to facilitate open and broad sharing of early work without any limitations to access. Currently there are more than 60 preprint servers representing different subject and geographical domains, each one evolving at a different based on adoption patterns and disciplinary ethos. This briefing will offer invaluable help to those who wish to understand this rapidly evolving publishing model.

Call for Advisory Committee Participation · Open Grants

“Planning for Open Grants: Fostering a Transparent and Accessible National Research Infrastructure, an initiative led by the University of Florida, has undertaken an 18-month effort to establish a blueprint for implementation of a repository of openly accessible grant proposals and funding guidelines. Bringing experts together is crucial to the success of this initiative, both to envision the potential benefits as well as potential barriers. 12 advisors—including grant funders, research administrators, librarians, archivists, scholars, policy experts, and technologists—have joined the project to engage in conversation and provide feedback on deliverables throughout the award period.

We seek 8 additional advisors to provide their unique perspectives on this endeavor, rooted in individual lived experience and professional interest. Advisors will be paid a $1000 honorarium and $1000 travel stipend and commit to:

attending a 1.5 day in-person meeting at the University of Florida in 2022 (tentatively May or June),
participating in 2-3 virtual follow-up discussions, and
providing feedback on deliverables….”

The Movement to Open Access Scholarly Publishing, Part 1: A Conversation with OASPA’s Claire Redhead

International efforts to bring truly open access to the corpus of scientific research made major strides in 2021, marking this as a monumental year in the evolution of scientific publication. Claire Redhead,  someone whose voice and understanding in this area is well-established, having worked for 12 years in academic publishing before joining the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA).  Claire joined OASPA in 2012 as Membership and Communications Manager and four years later was appointed Executive Director. Her leadership and experience in the growing Open Access movement has been acknowledged as key to the rapid growth and expansion of OA throughout the global scholarly community.  ATG  is honored to have her voice in this examination of the scholarly OA development.


“CIVICA Research aims for an institutional transformation that is sustainable and fully integrated with the education and research strategies of the Erasmus+ CIVICA project.

It encompasses the following actions:

define and implement a shared research agenda with socially relevant outcomes
develop human capital and academic skills
develop shared research and innovation ecosystems
build an ambitious Open Science action plan
explore joint research infrastructures, synergies and common actions both within and beyond CIVICA…”

Eight components for ‘open social science’ – An agenda for cultural change | Impact of Social Sciences

“The open science movement has been gathering force in STEM disciplines for many years, and some of its procedural elements have been adopted also by quantitative social scientists. However, little work has yet been done on exploring how more ambitious open science principles might be deployed across both the qualitative and quantitative social science disciplines. Patrick Dunleavy sets out some initial ideas to foster a cultural shift towards open social science, explored in a current CIVICA project….”

F1000 launches its first open access publishing hub in Latin America | STM Publishing News

“GDC Difusión Científica has partnered with open research publisher F1000 to create a dedicated open research publishing hub, GDC Open Research in Latin America. This Gateway will enable researchers to amplify the impact of their work and promote the principles of open research throughout Latin America and beyond.

GDC Difusión Científica has more than 30 years of experience serving the academic institutions of Latin America, providing software, eBook and journal collections, drug information systems and more. They operate throughout Latin America and have developed a deep knowledge of the needs and interests of the academic communities of the region.

GDC Open Research in Latin America is the first publishing Gateway of its kind in the region, providing the Latin American scholarly community with a dedicated forum to publish research with international impact and visibility. The Gateway is situated on F1000’s own publishing platform F1000Research, and it aims to support and accelerate research by providing rapid, open access publication with links to all underlying data….”

a figshare case study: A Repository for All Open Access Resources

“This case study explores the evolution of La Trobe University’s instance of Figshare from a data repository to Open@LaTrobe (OPAL) — an institutional repository that supports data, publications, special collections, educational resources, and more as well as their process for rolling it out across the university.”

Wiley and Carolina Consortium Partner to Deliver More Open Access Research

Global research and education leader Wiley today announced a new three-year agreement with the Carolina Consortium, a consortium of libraries across the U.S. states of North Carolina and South Carolina.

The agreement allows members of 41 participating institutions access to all of Wiley’s hybrid and subscription journals and grants researchers the ability to publish accepted articles open access in all of Wiley’s 1,400 hybrid journals.

Tracking Science: How Libraries can Protect Data and Scientific Freedom

An interview with Julia Reda

Data tracking has long been a lucrative business model for many corporations. The fact that it also takes place in science is not so well-known, however. But here too, dangers are lurking for data protection and the freedom of science and research. And libraries also have a role to play, as stakeholders in the scientific ecosystem, particularly if they take out any kind of contract with profit-oriented companies such as publishing houses, in which the data from researchers can also function as bargaining chips.

Julia Reda from the Society for Civil Rights (GFF) has long been dedicated to the assertion of fundamental rights in the conflict area surrounding copyright and data protection. In the interview she explains the role libraries and digital infrastructures play in this complex topic and why it is so important for these institutions to build their own infrastructure and focus on green Open Access instead of financially supporting publishing houses to build up a parallel and commercial infrastructure.

During the recent online conference #vBib21, you gave a presentation on “Tracking Science: Consequences for Data Protection and Scientific Freedom” (German). Why is this topic also relevant to libraries?

Libraries do far more than just making literature available. Ideally they provide a comprehensive knowledge structure in which people can learn and do research. The exploding costs of licences for specialist scientific articles is not only making it more difficult for libraries to fulfil this task: scientific publishers use the enormous profits they procure in this way, at the expense of the public purse, to buy up more and more software companies responsible for organising the science industry, from logging measurement results in the laboratory to assessing the quality of research. In this way the science corporations create a commercial parallel structure to the services that libraries should actually provide but are often unable to, due to a lack of financial resources. Once public research takes place on commercial platforms, it is easy for these companies to collect highly sensitive data about the researchers. This represents a danger to their privacy and to the independence of science. Libraries must take a stand against this trend, because it is their very own duties that are being privatised here.

How is scientific freedom threatened when major publishing houses track the surfing and search habits of individual scientists?

Individual researchers could be hindered in carrying out their research: For example, the Chinese government has already induced certain scientific publishers to block access to specialist articles in China for users whose topics are a thorn in the side of the regime. China has also imposed sanctions on individual scientists and research institutes who are working in these research fields. If science companies sell personal data to governments – about who is reading and downloading which specialist articles – further researchers can become the target for sanctions. The resulting “scissors in the head” (self-censoring) that begins before the actual restrictions of scientific freedom even occur, is particularly dangerous. Researchers start to avoid controversial topics because they feel that they are being watched, and they want to avoid trouble.

A further danger is that the use of data to make decisions will increase existing unfairness in science. It’s already well-known that the so-called “impact factor”, which should provide information about the quality of specialist journals, is completely unsuited to this task. Nevertheless it continues to be called upon for career promotion decisions. Measuring the quality of scientific papers according to the number of times they have been accessed can also give a distorted picture. Male, white scientists who are English native speakers and who are particularly present in the media have an unfair advantage in such procedures.

The topic is however very abstract. Do you have a concrete example for us in which tracking had negative consequences for scientific freedom or an individual scientist?

One well-known example is that of the activist and researcher Aaron Swartz, who was accused of computer sabotage by the US government after he had automatically downloaded thousands of specialist articles from the commercial repository JSTOR via his completely legal university access in the year 2010. JSTOR became aware of Swartz’s “suspicious” surfing behaviour and blocked his access. Although JSTOR reached an out of court agreement with Swartz, the US public prosecutor’s office pressed charges against him and pursued him as if he were a criminal. He had done nothing worse than borrowing too many books from the library. Swartz committed suicide in the year 2013; it was only after this that the case against him was dropped. In the meantime the EU copyright reform of 2019 has made it clear that scientific publishers in the EU are not allowed to prevent the mass download of specialist articles for the purposes of text and data mining as long as these activities do not compromise the safety and integrity of the computer systems.

In the scientific ecosystem, libraries often advocate Open Science, for example by operating their own Open Access repositories or by negotiating Open Access-friendly contracts with publishers. What pitfalls are lurking here in relation to tracking and scientific freedom?

It is important that libraries rely on green Open Access, i.e. provide their own infrastructure for the publication of specialist articles. Contracts with science companies are not only associated with high publication costs for Open Access publications, the so-called Article Processing Charges (APCs), which financially burden the public purse. The danger of these contracts is also that libraries will give away the control of the publication infrastructure. Commercial companies then host the specialist articles and can track the surfing habits of people who call up these articles. Universities and libraries should preferably completely avoid these contracts and invest the money in their own infrastructure.

Four aspects that are important for contracts with external service providers - as listet in the next paragraph

Four aspects that are important for contracts with external service providers.

If contracts are signed with external service providers, however, these four aspects are particularly important:

  • The contracts must be tendered, so that different companies can compete with their respective quotations.
  • The contracts must avoid “lock-in effects” that lead the libraries to become permanently dependent on a specific provider. To ensure this, it is important that the software of the online platform used is Open Source, so that it is possible to change provider without the researcher needing to get used to a completely new platform.
  • The specialist articles must also be subject to genuinely free licences that allow unlimited further use on any other platform and for any purpose; this ensures that it is still legally possible to move from one provider to another, or to infrastructure that you operate yourself.
  • Finally libraries must insist that tracking of the surfing habits of individual researchers is contractually forbidden and that the software runs on in-house university servers. Only in this way can the university or the library comply with its public mandate to protect the fundamental rights of the researchers. Just a few days ago, a university was prohibited by the courts from forwarding personal data to the USA via a commercial provider, because this violates EU data protection laws (see Administrative Court Wiesbaden: The cookie tool “Cookiebot” is a breach of the GDPR and is therefore forbidden [German]).

In your presentation you called upon libraries to get involved in the debate and campaign for data protection. What can libraries and digital infrastructure institutions do in practice?

As well as specific suggestions on what they need to bear in mind when negotiating contracts, it is important that the library associations and managements of higher education institutions publicly declare their solidarity with the researchers whose fundamental rights are threatened by science tracking. This involves turning down pseudo-scientific quantitative metrics for the evaluation of research quality, as companies such as RELX are increasingly offering. It is also a good idea to disseminate campaigns such as the petition „Stop Tracking Science“ or the statement from the German Psychological Society about science tracking (German), which addresses not only individual researchers but also scientific institutions with sensible suggestions.

Are there further issues in which libraries should get involved or become more aware of, in order to protect scientific freedom?

Libraries are often keen to stand up for the basic rights of researchers and to use legal regulations to improve access to knowledge for the general public. For example, the new EU copyright reform has created new ways for libraries to make out-of-print works freely accessible on the internet. It is important they make use of these new freedoms as soon as possible, even if they do not have any practical experience of them. At the Society for Civil Rights (GFF), I am working towards the legal assertion of fundamental rights in the conflict issue of copyright. I would be delighted to hear from libraries who would like to take advantage of these new opportunities and who are looking for support.

This text has been translated from German.

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About Julia Reda

Julia Reda is an expert on copyright and freedom of communication and heads the project control© Copyright law and freedom of communication of the Society for Civil Rights, which is dedicated to the enforcement of fundamental rights in the area of conflict with copyright. From 2014 to 2019, Julia Reda was a Member of the European Parliament, where she focused on net policy issues, in particular the EU copyright reform and the regulation of online platforms. Julia is a Fellow of the Shuttleworth Foundation and Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Portrait, photographer: Diana Levine, [CC-by 4.0]

The post Tracking Science: How Libraries can Protect Data and Scientific Freedom first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Revisiting — Journalism, Preprint Servers, and the Truth: Allocating Accountability

In light of the recent anniversary of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, we revisit Rick Anderson’s post on how journalists flag unsupported claims and blatant falsehoods, and whether preprint platforms should do the same.

The post Revisiting — Journalism, Preprint Servers, and the Truth: Allocating Accountability appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.