Response to: ‘Bibliometric Analysis and Impact of Open-Access Editorials in Spain’ report from ANECA

“On 1 October 2021, ANECA released a public report entitled “Bibliometric analysis and impact of open-access publishers in Spain”, raising controversy in the Spanish academic community. Stakeholders have quickly responded with surprise, criticism and rebuttal. In our own report analysis, we were perplexed by the evident lack of academic rigor and inappropriate methodology.

We were surprised and concerned that ANECA established the principles for the evaluating of researchers in Spain based on a report with a clear bias against open access journals. Similarly, we do not understand why such a report has been prepared by researchers specializing in marketing and tourism, without experience in the field of bibliometrics….

The report follows a perverse logic: whatever is not standard is considered negative, based on a standard defined by the average value of publication volume and rate of self-citations, without considering additional factors that may affect the parameters analyzed. Thus, the analysis is based on a series of non-contrasted or referenced statements that the authors use to manufacture their own paradigms.

The authors assume that a more significant number of articles inevitably implies lower “quality, rigor and degree of contribution and originality” (page 7 of the report). However, they do not provide any evidence or references to support this claim. Such a statement lacks logic and could also be used to discredit the best-known traditional publishers, many of which have published more than open-access publishers. Furthermore, many JCR Q1 subscription journals have also been designated as non-standard behavior due to the number of articles they publish….”

Lessons from the pandemic: Embrace ‘open science,’ confront exclusion of investigators

“Will this trend to freely disseminate research papers prior to peer review and their acceptance by journals be sustained after the pandemic, when the sense of urgency recedes? I certainly hope so. This would be a lasting, beneficial consequence of the pandemic. By reducing the power of the journals to hold research hostage through long and often unnecessarily contentious peer review, preprints not only speed up the process but also democratize science for some in other parts the world who do not have access to expensive journal subscriptions.”

PsyArXiv Preprints | When open data closes the door: Problematising a one size fits all approach to open data in journal submission guidelines

Abstract:  Opening data promises to improve research rigour and democratise knowledge production. But it also poses practical, theoretical, and ethical risks for qualitative research. Despite discussion about open data in qualitative social psychology predating the replication crisis, the nuances of this discussion have not been translated into current journal policies. Through a content analysis of 261 journals in the domain of social psychology, we establish the state of current journal policies for open data. We critically discuss how these expectations may not be adequate for establishing qualitative rigour, can introduce ethical challenges, and may place those who wish to use qualitative approaches at a disadvantage in peer review and publication processes. We assert that open data requirements should include clearer guidelines that reflect the nuance of data sharing in qualitative research, and move away from a universal ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to data sharing.

 

Publication Charges Associated with Quality Open Access (OA) Publishing and Its Impact on Low Middle Income Countries (LMICs), Time to Reframe Research Policies

Abstract:  Dissemination of the scientific literature is as paramount as scientific studies. Scientific publishing has come a long way from localized distribution of few physical copies of journal to widespread and rapid distribution via internet in the 21st century. The evolution of open excess (OA) publishing which has rapidly evolved in last two decades has its heart at the right place with the ultimate goal being timely, and rapid distribution of published scientific work to a wider scientific community around the world and thus ultimately promoting scientific knowledge in global sense. However, quality OA publishing of cancer research involve an average publishing fee of around 1,500 USD which poses a challenge for Low middle income countries (LMICs), where per capita income is low. This has led to deterioration of science in LMICs in the form of publication in Cheap OA predatory journals for sake of securing academic promotions as well as authors ending up paying exorbitant publishing charges out of pocket to get their quality scientific work published. In countries like India and other LMICs, the funding agencies and institution have so far not addressed this problem. Here we assess the framework of open access publishing in LMICs like India and what are the steps which can be taken to facilitate open access publishing in LMICs. 

 

Embracing Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Instructional Materials

“Choosing instructional materials wisely is one of the most important jobs education leaders and teachers have, perhaps now more than ever. Unfinished academic instruction resulting from the COVID-19 crisis demands better ways to reignite student engagement and accelerate learning. At the same time, the disparate impact of the pandemic on students of color and growing efforts to quash discussions about systemic racism in schools reveals an urgent need to approach this work through a racial equity lens. This report argues that embracing high-quality instructional materials that are both rigorous and relevant is crucial to addressing these priorities.”

View of The UGC-CARE initiative: Indian academia’s quest for research and publishing integrity | First Monday

Abstract:  This paper discusses the reasons for emergence of predatory publications in India, engendered by mandates of higher educational institutions: that require stipulated number of research publications for employment and promotions. Predatory journals have eclipsed the merits of open access publishing, compromised ethical practices, and left the research community groping for benchmarks of research integrity and publication ethics. To fight back the menace of predatory publications, University Grants Commission, India has established “Consortium for Academic Research and Ethics” (UGC-CARE) in 2018 to promote and benchmark research integrity and publication ethics among the Indian academia. The present paper discusses the UGC-CARE initiative, its structure, objectives and specifically, “UGC-CARE Reference List of Quality Journals” (UGC-CARE list) and finally, the challenges it faces.

 

Commercial Science Journals: A Luxury Market? – SBMT

“SBMT: Why are the “diamond/platinum” journals the least valued by editorial metrics and funding agencies?

Dr. TR Shankar Raman: I have no idea why this should be so. It feels like the academic community has just painted itself into a corner. There are lots of excellent diamond open access journals. The journals published by Indian Academy of Sciences  are a good example (although they have a weird co-publishing arrangement with Springer Nature, the journals and papers can be freely accessed via the Academy website and there are no charges for authors to publish either). Of course, the number of papers that a diamond open access journal may be able to publish may be lower and many are in niche areas of science rather than multi-disciplinary in scope and hence their reach may be lower than what big-budget commercial journals can achieve with their resources. But this only means that diamond open access journals should be supported more to achieve better reach, not shift to commercial publishers. All public and philanthropic funding for science has everything to gain by supporting and mandating publication in diamond open access journals….

SBMT: How to design a policy in defense of Southern science through the promotion of “diamond/platinum” journals?

Dr. TR Shankar Raman: As individuals, we can each take a stand, as I have tried to in my post—that I will not review for or publish in commercial journals, but will especially do so for diamond open access journals. Particularly, senior scientists and leaders in their fields must set an example by publishing, reviewing for, or accepting to be on the boards of diamond open access journals. But this will not go far unless we also collectively work to change overall policy. As a community, we must petition our academies, funders, and science administrators to change policies to give greater recognition to papers published in diamond open access journals. This can trigger a big change: especially if it begins to count towards jobs and promotions in academia. Impact factor should be trashed as outdated, harmful, and retrogressive. Recipients of public funds should be mandated to publish in diamond open access journals published by nonprofit scientific societies as this is the most cost-effective way to spend the available (limited) funds to achieve publication that is freely, openly, and widely accessible, while supporting and advancing science. Other initiatives such as Gold Open Access, self-archiving of submitted final versions, or pay-to-publish APC models are all half measures or discriminate and exclude large numbers of scientists around the world, who cannot pay the large fees involved. Policies should support membership fee support for scholars and new and tenured faculty to join learned academic societies that publish diamond open access journals so that the funds are kept within the community and to advance science rather than feed the profits of commercial companies….”

How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science – Tablet Magazine

“Lack of communalism during the pandemic fueled scandals and conspiracy theories, which were then treated as fact in the name of science by much of the popular press and on social media. The retraction of a highly visible hydroxychloroquine paper from the The Lancet was a startling example: A lack of sharing and openness allowed a top medical journal to publish an article in which 671 hospitals allegedly contributed data that did not exist, and no one noticed this outright fabrication before publication. The New England Journal of Medicine, another top medical journal, managed to publish a similar paper; many scientists continue to heavily cite it long after its retraction….

However, if full public data-sharing cannot happen even for a question relevant to the deaths of millions and the suffering of billions, what hope is there for scientific transparency and a sharing culture? …”

Preprint advocates must also fight for research integrity

“The case for releasing preprints is clear: results from scientific studies are made more quickly and more broadly available. Overall, greater sharing and transparency boosts trustworthiness and collaboration. But efforts to promote preprints without simultaneously implementing firm measures to ensure that the research is of high quality put the cart before the horse….”

Guest Post – Publishers Integrate Preprints Into Their Workflows – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The number of preprint servers has increased substantially in the last five years and now stands at no less than sixty. More than thirty new servers have appeared in the past five years.  These servers are diverse, focusing on subdisciplines, or specific geographies, or specific languages, and have varying degrees of penetration and technical sophistication. Existing publishing services and workflows are now being reimagined to accommodate preprints. This essay examines how a publisher-centric approach simplifies workflows and speeds the process of peer review through preprint pre-assessment and the checks and balances being implemented by publishers and third-parties to build trust and confidence in preprints….”

Research data communication strategy at the time of pandemics: a retrospective analysis of the Italian experience | Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease

Abstract:  Coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the scientific world. During these difficult times, standard peer-review processes could be too long for the continuously evolving knowledge about this disease. We wanted to assess whether the use of other types of network could be a faster way to disseminate the knowledge about Coronavirus disease. We retrospectively analyzed the data flow among three distinct groups of networks during the first three months of the pandemic: PubMed, preprint repositories (biorXiv and arXiv) and social media in Italy (Facebook and Twitter). The results show a significant difference in the number of original research articles published by PubMed and preprint repositories. On social media, we observed an incredible number of physicians participating to the discussion, both on three distinct Italian-speaking Facebook groups and on Twitter. The standard scientific process of publishing articles (i.e., the peer-review process) remains the best way to get access to high-quality research. Nonetheless, this process may be too long during an emergency like a pandemic. The thoughtful use of other types of network, such as preprint repositories and social media, could be taken into consideration in order to improve the clinical management of COVID-19 patients.

 

Revisiting: Is There a Business Case for Open Data? – The Scholarly Kitchen

Looking back at this 2017 post brings a mixed bag of thoughts. First, the fortunes being made with collecting, curating, and selling access to consumer data still haven’t spilled across into research data, and that’s likely because a) relatively few research datasets are available, and b) for the most part, the ones that are available have inadequate metadata and incompatible structures, so that combining datasets for meta-analyses is scarcely worthwhile. Until we address the problem of missing research data – which (full disclosure) we’re trying to do with DataSeer – we can’t really make much headway with getting it all into a consistent format. However, while combining datasets for re-use is a core feature for consumer data, it’s only one of the reasons for sharing research data. Open data also allows readers to check the results for the paper itself, and perhaps this is where our attention for the ‘business model for open data’ should turn. In particular, peer review is considerably simpler when the authors submit computationally reproducible manuscripts. Editors and reviewers can then be sure that the datasets support the analyses and hence the results, allowing them to focus solely on the appropriateness of the experimental design and the significance of the conclusions. It’s therefore conceivable that journals could reduce the APC for computationally reproducible articles (or hike it for non-reproducible ones), thereby incentivizing the extra effort required to required to produce them. No matter what route we choose, it’s clear that our current incentive structures around open science (mostly strongly worded policies and the lure of extra citations) are not getting the job done, and we need to consider alternatives. Money can enter the equation at a few places: by only funding open science, as exemplified by Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, or by offsetting the extra effort required by researchers with additional financial resources, by making things cheaper or non-open science more expensive. Let’s see where we go.

Adjusting the use of preprints to accommodate the ‘quality’ factor in response to COVID-19 – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  Preprints are typically crude precursors of peer-reviewed papers that are placed almost immediately, save for some superficial screening, on an open-access repository to allow the information to reach readers quickly, circumventing the long-drawn process typically associated with processing in peer-reviewed journals. For early-career researchers who might be enthusiastic about obtaining some recognition for their efforts, or wanting open and public input about their work, preprints are certainly a useful publication choice. However, if health-related data and information have not been carefully scrutinised, they may pose a risk and may even serve as a source of public health misinformation. Surging growth and competition among preprint servers, coupled with a massive volume of COVID-19-related preprints, mainly on bioRxiv and medRxiv, as well as select indexing now being tested on PubMed, suggests that preprints are being increasingly used in the biomedical sciences. Stronger and more robust ethical policies are needed to screen preprints before they are released to the public, and even if this implies a slight delay in publication, it may increase academics’ trust in this form of scientific information and communication. Clear and stringent ethical policies need to be urgently introduced by ethics groups such as COPE and the ICMJE, whose many member journals allow preprints to be posted before traditional peer review. Stringent ethical guidelines that treat misconduct equally in preprints and peer-reviewed papers will boost the integrity of academic publishing.

 

What to do if you’re asked to remove a citation to a preprint – ASAPbio

“In spite of this, prohibiting citation to preprints forces authors to choose between using information that informed their work without attributing the source (which is potentially plagiarism) or having to withhold relevant information from their manuscript (which is at odds with transparency and full reporting). This does a disservice to the authors of the work under review, the authors of the original preprint, and science as a whole. In an environment in which researchers can’t cite preprints, fears of being scooped will escalate, chilling researchers’ willingness to share early and openly. A reduction in preprinting driven by regressive citation policies would not only slow down the pace of discovery, but decrease scientific rigor: without preprints, errors are less likely to be discovered. Thus, prohibiting preprint citation may, counterproductively, decrease the reliability of the published literature.

Rather than prohibit citation of the latest papers, we propose some alternative strategies. …”

What to do if you’re asked to remove a citation to a preprint – ASAPbio

“In spite of this, prohibiting citation to preprints forces authors to choose between using information that informed their work without attributing the source (which is potentially plagiarism) or having to withhold relevant information from their manuscript (which is at odds with transparency and full reporting). This does a disservice to the authors of the work under review, the authors of the original preprint, and science as a whole. In an environment in which researchers can’t cite preprints, fears of being scooped will escalate, chilling researchers’ willingness to share early and openly. A reduction in preprinting driven by regressive citation policies would not only slow down the pace of discovery, but decrease scientific rigor: without preprints, errors are less likely to be discovered. Thus, prohibiting preprint citation may, counterproductively, decrease the reliability of the published literature.

Rather than prohibit citation of the latest papers, we propose some alternative strategies. …”