Abstract: Chemistry is the last natural science discipline to embrace prepublishing, namely the publication of non-peer reviewed scientific articles on the internet. After a brief insight into the origins and the purpose of prepublishing in science, we conduct a concrete analysis of the concrete situation, aiming at providing an answer to several questions. Why the chemistry community has been late in embracing prepublishing? Is this in relation with the slow acceptance of open access publishing by the same community? Will prepublishing become a common habit also for chemistry scholars?
“Ontario is investing in medical research and open science to help speed up the development of new treatments for diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and rare diseases.
Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, was joined by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, to announce support for the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute in Ottawa today. The SGC is a public-private partnership based on the principle of open science — making research data open and accessible to researchers everywhere, to speed up the discovery of new medicines. The SGC also helps Ontario attract pharmaceutical investment, build a stronger commercialization pipeline for new treatments and create and retain high quality jobs. Supporting research and innovation is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.”
“For the past five years, the team behind the global ocean health report card, Ocean Health Index (OHI), have been trying to figure out how to reproduce their science faster. Assessing the scores on everything from biodiversity to tourism for 220 coastal nations and territories is a massive undertaking — and it involves synthesizing data from nearly 100 sources.
OHI scientists — including several from Conservation International, the index’s co-developer — knew there was a way to do ‘better science in less time.’ A new paper in the journal Nature details how they were able to do just that: By borrowing philosophies, tools and workflows primarily created for software development, OHI scientists fundamentally changed their approach to science. Human Nature sat down with the study’s lead author, Ocean Health Index project scientist Julia Stewart Lowndes, to discuss the key to this new approach: open science.”
“Preprinting in biology is gaining steam, but the process is still far from normal: the upload rate to all preprint servers is about 1% that of PubMed. The most obvious way for individual scientists to help turn the tide is, of course, to preprint their own work. But given that it now takes longer to accumulate data for a paper, this opportunity might not come up as often as we’d like.
So, what else can we do to promote the productive use of preprints in biology?”
“As a NASA grant awardee, you have the option to submit your accepted manuscript(s) to NASA’s PubSpace repository. PubSpace is available from a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA to allow wider access to the results of federally-funded research. For the grant listed below, you may deposit any peer-reviewed manuscripts describing work supported by NASA awards that were published or accepted for publication through the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system. At this time, this is not a Term and Condition of the grant listed below; however, you may voluntarily submit any manuscripts that were a result of the funded research from this grant.
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“With growing calls for transparency and data disclosure, global publications leaders find themselves in a balancing act—ensuring both scientific credibility and commercial viability. To help publications leaders navigate this emerging landscape, research and consulting leader Best Practices, LLC undertook benchmarking research to investigate how top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies shape their global scientific publication strategies to maintain credibility in the scientific community and deliver publications that drive brand success.
The study found that open access platforms are gaining popularity for publication processes; 44% of companies in the study believe such platforms will impact publication strategy going forward. Part of the allure for open access platforms is they make information readily available to physicians and patients alike. In the wake of open access platforms, companies foresee an impact on areas such as journal selection, publication approval and delivery, and speed of data disclosure.
In particular, this study provides benchmarks around publications structure and leadership; staffing and budget levels; publication strategy creation and data delivery; publication channel utilization across product lifecycle; and measuring publication effectiveness. In addition, the 85-page study identifies publication strategy changes for the new marketplace, best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of strategic publication planning, top publication challenges and lessons learned for implementing successful scientific publication strategy.”
“OpenAIRE-Connect is an H2020 EC project, started in January 2017. The project fosters transparent evaluation of results and facilitates reproducibility of science for research communities by enabling a scientific communication ecosystem supporting the exchange of artefacts, packages of artefacts, and links between them across communities and across content providers. To this aim, OpenAIRE-Connect will introduce and implement the concept of Open Science as a Service (OSaaS) on top of the existing OpenAIRE infrastructure (http://www.openaire.eu), by delivering out-of-the-box, on-demand deployable tools in support of Open Science. OpenAIRE-Connect will realise and operate two OSaaS production services (see figure):
- Research Community Dashboard: it will serve research communities to at publishing research artefacts (packages and links), and monitoring their research impact.
- Catch-All Notification Broker: it will engage and mobilise content providers, and serve them with services enabling notification-based exchange of research artefacts, to leverage their transition towards Open Science paradigms.
Both services will be served on-demand according to the OSaaS approach, hence be reusable from different disciplines and providers, each with different practices and maturity levels, so as to favour a shift towards a uniform cross-community and cross-content provider scientific communication ecosystem.”
“In the era of computation and data-driven research, traditional methods of disseminating research are no longer fit-for-purpose. New approaches for disseminating data, methods and results are required to maximize knowledge discovery. The ‘long tail’ of small, unstructured datasets is well catered for by a number of general-purpose repositories, but there has been less support for ‘big data’. Outlined here are our experiences in attempting to tackle the gaps in publishing large-scale, computationally intensive research. GigaScience is an open-access, open-data journal aiming to revolutionize large-scale biological data dissemination, organization and re-use. Through use of the data handling infrastructure of the genomics centre BGI, GigaScience links standard manuscript publication with an integrated database (GigaDB) that hosts all associated data, and provides additional data analysis tools and computing resources. Furthermore, the supporting workflows and methods are also integrated to make published articles more transparent and open. GigaDB has released many new and previously unpublished datasets and data types, including as urgently needed data to tackle infectious disease outbreaks, cancer and the growing food crisis. Other ‘executable’ research objects, such as workflows, virtual machines and software from several GigaScience articles have been archived and shared in reproducible, transparent and usable formats. With data citation producing evidence of, and credit for, its use in the wider research community, GigaScience demonstrates a move towards more executable publications. Here data analyses can be reproduced and built upon by users without coding backgrounds or heavy computational infrastructure in a more democratized manner.”
“Studies have shown that the academic publishing industry achieved impressive revenue levels of approximately USD5,000 per published article in 2011.
In this multi-billion dollar business, the profit of each article was estimated to be between USD3,500 and USD4,000. Even for open-access publishers which charge a much lower fee, the average price per article still hovered around USD660 in the same year. However, the world of academic publishing is not as blissful as many aspiring academicians and researchers would like to believe. In reality, the business of scientific publishing is extremely lucrative.”
“All survey results converge towards the fact that the researchers have generally accepted the idea of open access and that they consider it as globally beneficial for their field, even if their information and publishing behaviour may be somewhat delayed. In Europe, 461 research organisations and funders have adopted open access mandates and policies that require or request their researchers to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research article output by depositing it in an open access repository7 ; many have signed national or international statements on open access, such as the Berlin Declaration. Both, individual awareness and uptake and institutional, political commitment are crucial for the further progress of open access.
Senior researchers, especially research managers and directors of research centres, are key stakeholders in this process in two ways:
- They are appointed by their peers, coordinate the research activities and represent their colleagues in the executive and advisory bodies; as such, they act as a kind of transmission belt of the researchers’ opinions and demands, including reporting (bottom-up).
- At the same time, they stand for the research organisation and are the guardians of the application of institutional decisions and rules within the local laboratory, including supervision, follow-up and control (top-down).
This intermediary or middle function may not always be an easy situation, as a latent source of conflict, but it makes them particularly interesting and influential as opinion leaders and even as potential models for good practice. For this reason, instead of a new assessment of scientists’ attitudes and behaviours towards open access, the CNRS conducted an exploratory survey on Scientific and Technological Information (STI) specifically at the senior management level, i.e. the directors of the CNRS research units (laboratories). One part of this survey was about open access. Our paper reports the survey results on open access, in particular to obtain answers to four questions:
- Do the CNRS senior research managers (laboratory directors) share the positive opinion towards open access revealed by recent studies with researchers from the UK, Germany, the United States and other countries? Are they supportive of open repositories and OA journal publishing?
- Does their information behaviour, i.e. use and production of open access publications, meet the challenge of open access or does it lag behind their opinions?
- Like in other studies, will this survey identify a group of unaware or even reluctant senior research managers not interested in open access?
- And finally, what can be said about differences between scientific disciplines?”
“Science should not, and need not, be shackled by journal publication. Three sensible reforms would ensure that researchers’ results could be communicated to more people more quickly, without any compromise on quality. Step one is for the organisations that finance research to demand that scientists put their academic papers, along with their experimental data, in publicly accessible ‘repositories’ before they are sent to a journal. That would allow other researchers to make use of the findings without delay. Those opposed to such ‘preprints’ argue that they allow shoddy work to proliferate because it has not yet been peer-reviewed. That may surprise physicists and mathematicians, who have been posting work to arXiv, a preprint repository, for more than 25 years with no ill effects. After peer review, research should also be freely available for all to read. Too much science, much of it paid for from the public purse, languishes behind paywalls.
Step two is to improve the process of peer review itself. Journals currently administer a system of organising anonymous peer reviewers to pass judgment on new research—a fact they use, in part, to justify their hefty subscription prices. But this murky process is prone to abuse. At its worst, cabals of researchers are suspected of guaranteeing favourable reviews for each other’s work. Better that reviewers are named and that the reviews themselves are published. The Gates foundation has announced its support for an online repository where such open peer review of papers takes place. The repository was launched last year by the Wellcome Trust, meaning that the world’s two largest medical charities have thrown their weight behind it. Others should follow (see article).
Fight for your right
Finally, science needs to stop relying so much on journal publication as the only recognised credential for researchers and the only path to career progression. Tools exist that report how often a preprint has been viewed, for example, or whether a clinical data set has been cited in guidelines for doctors. A handful of firms are using artificial intelligence to assess the scientific importance of research, irrespective of how it has been disseminated. Such approaches need encouragement. Journals may lose out, but science itself will benefit.”
“We have created a series of five blog posts covering open access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features Project Euclid, a not-for-profit hosting and publishing platform for the mathematics and statistics communities, managed jointly by Cornell University Library and Duke University Press. Here Leslie Eager, Director of Publishing Services for Project Euclid, shares more about the platform and the ways it supports open access in the mathematics and statistics world.
Our goal at Project Euclid is to make mathematics and statistics publications easy and affordable to find and read online. Supporting open-access publishing is a huge part of that mission. About 70% of Project Euclid is open access.
With Project Euclid the idea is to provide low-cost but feature-rich hosting services for journals, books, and conference proceedings so that publishers can keep the scholarship affordable and widely available to libraries and researchers while sustaining themselves financially. We partner with math and stats publishers around the world.”
“The matter that is primarily on my mind is that of the Public Domain. Copyright legislation is quite messy due to the various legislative changes that have happened in the last century, as I am sure you are aware. This potentially makes it difficult to pinpoint which works are copyrighted and for which works copyright has expired. Nonetheless, copyright on some works has clearly expired. Examples of such works are those that predate the Berne convention by several decades and whose copyright expired after approximately thirty years depending on the legislative area. This would mean that most works before 1850 are clearly in the Public Domain. I was surprised that there are still many works whose copyright has expired but are still available under your member publishers with an explicit assertion of copyright (e.g., Elsevier; I focused on scholarly publishers). An example is an index page from 1823 that is being sold for $35.95 . I find this sort of behavior quite bewildering, and a touch ironic, given that Elsevier and others have a particularly strong stance when it comes to enforcing their own copyright, as emphasized in the ongoing legal battle against Sci-Hub and LibGen. My questions are thus as follows: 1. Do you condone or condemn illicit claims of copyright by your member organizations? 2. Do you view the asserted copyright as in  and  valid? 3. Do you believe it is ethically responsible to sell scholarly works whose copyright has expired at the same price as new, copyrighted scholarly works? 4. Is it your intention to put the works, whose copyright has expired, truly in the Public Domain to accord with your mission statement of “creating and supporting the means for disseminating this knowledge”? 5. What steps will STM take to avoid this sort of mis-claim of copyright in the future, if it believes it to be incorrect? …”
“Recently, I have become interested in the issue of false claims of copyright (i.e., copyfraud) in publishing. I just wrote to the publisher’s association (STM) to ask them what their perspective is on copyfraud is and whether they condone such behavior by their member associations. Read my letter here. I will update this blog when I get a response….”