Q&A: Phillip Sharp and Amy Brand on the future of open-access publishing | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“A group of MIT scholars is releasing a new white paper about academic open-access publishing. The paper gathers information, identifies outstanding questions, and calls for further research and data to inform policy on the subject.


The group was chaired by Institute Professor Emeritus Phillip A. Sharp, of the Department of Biology and Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research, who co-authored the report along with William B. Bonvillian, senior director of special projects at MIT Open Learning; Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research; Barbara Imperiali, the Class of 1922 Professor of Biology; David R. Karger, professor of electrical engineering; Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, professor of science, technology, and society; Amy Brand, director and publisher of the MIT Press; Nick Lindsay, director for journals and open access at MIT Press; and Michael Stebbins of Science Advisors, LLC.


MIT News spoke with Sharp and Brand about the state of open-access publishing….”

Access to Science and Scholarship: Key Questions about the Future of Research Publishing

“The health of the research enterprise is closely tied to the effectiveness of the scientific and scholarly publishing ecosystem. Policy-, technology-, and market-driven changes in publishing models over the last two decades have triggered a number of disruptions within this ecosystem:

Ongoing increases in the cost of journal publishing, with dominant open access models shifting costs from subscribers to authors

Significant consolidation and vertical (supply chain) integration in the publishing industry, and a decline in society-owned subscription journals that have long subsidized scientific and scholarly societies

A dramatic increase in the number of “predatory” journals with substandard peer review

Decline in the purchasing power of academic libraries relative to the quantity and cost of published research To illustrate how researcher behavior, funder policies, and publisher business models and incentives interact, this report presents an historical overview of open access publishing.

The report also provides a list of key questions for further investigation to understand, measure, and best prepare for the impact of new policies related to open access in research publishing, categorized into six general areas: access and business models, research data, preprint publishing, peer review, costs to researchers and universities, and infrastructure.”

Open Access und ein Blick auf das wissenschaftliche Publikationswesen | PsychArchives

Open Access (OA) bezeichnet die freie Verfügbarkeit von wissenschaftlichen Publikationen mit Nachnutzungsrechten für alle weltweit, z.B. durch die Verwendung von Creative Commons Lizenzen. Im Vortrag soll ausgeführt werden, dass es mittlerweile möglich ist mit etwas Ressourcen (Zeit, Geld, Infrastruktur) so gut wie alle Forschungspublikationen in Open Access zu veröffentlichen. Dabei werden die verschiedenen Wege Green, Gold und Diamond OA kurz vorgestellt. Weiterhin wird gezeigt, wie Bibliotheken die einzelnen Wissenschaftler*innen dabei unterstützen. Mit zunehmendem Maße an frei verfügbaren Publikationen wird das Identifizieren und Bewerten von inhaltlich geprüften Informationen, beispielsweise durch einen Begutachtungsprozess in OA-Zeitschriften, auch für die Literaturrecherche bei studentischen Haus- oder Abschlussarbeiten immer wichtiger. Preprints sind dahingegen meist noch nicht geprüft, geben dafür aber einen sehr frühen Einblick in die aktuelle Forschung. Abgerundet wird der Vortrag mit einem kritischen Blick auf die Publikationslandschaft insgesamt und auf die aktuellen Entwicklungen. Das Erkennen von offensichtlichen Predatory Publishers ist wichtig, aber sollte nicht dazu führen, dass man nur noch Zeitschriften von großen Verlagen oder mit einer langen Historie (und damit verbundenen Kennzahlen wie dem Impact Factor) vertraut. Vielmehr ist eine Bibliodiversität wünschenswert. Aktuelle Entwicklungen zu immer kürzer werdenden Begutachtungsfristen sind vor dem Hintergrund von artikel-basierten Open-Access-Finanzierungsmodellen erklärbar, aber nicht unbedingt wünschenswert.

Metodología para la evaluación de la ciencia en Acceso Abierto Digital Diamante (Methodology to assess science in digital Diamond Open Access) | CLACSO

Aguado López, Eduardo, Ariana Becerill-Garcia, Alejandro Macedo-Garcia, Sheila Godínez-Larios, and Liliana Gonzáles-Morales. Metodología Para La Evaluación de La Ciencia En Acceso Abierto Digital Diamante (Methodology to Assess Science in Digital Diamond Open Access). CLACSO, 2023. https://www.clacso.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Metodologia-evaluacion.pdf.

Within the framework of the World Summit on Diamond Open Access, which took place from 23 to 27 October in Toluca, Mexico, at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, headquarters of Redalyc, the Network of Scientific Journals of Latin America and the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal, and of which CLACSO is one of the organizers, we present this volume, which proposes a conceptual and methodological framework to characterize knowledge published in Acceso Abierto Digital Diamante.

This book shows the application of the methodology to the scientific production of Social Sciences, Art and Humanities of authors from all over the world published in Ibero-American journals between 2005 and 2022. In this, the database provided by Redalyc, which gives an account of a specific publication model: in Digital Diamant Open Access, is used.


[2308.04297v1] Safeguarding Scientific Integrity: Examining Conflicts of Interest in the Peer Review Process

Abstract:  This case study analyzes the expertise, potential conflicts of interest, and objectivity of editors, authors, and peer reviewers involved in a 2022 special journal issue on fertility, pregnancy, and mental health. Data were collected on qualifications, organizational affiliations, and relationships among six papers’ authors, three guest editors, and twelve peer reviewers. Two articles were found to have undisclosed conflicts of interest between authors, an editor, and multiple peer reviewers affiliated with anti-abortion advocacy and lobbying groups, indicating compromised objectivity.

This lack of transparency undermines the peer review process and enables biased research and disinformation proliferation. To increase integrity, we recommend multiple solutions: open peer review, expanded conflict of interest disclosure, increased stakeholder accountability, and retraction when ethical standards are violated. By illuminating noncompliance with ethical peer review guidelines, this study aims to raise awareness to help prevent the propagation of partisan science through respected scholarly channels.

SocArXiv Papers | Preprint review services: Disrupting the scholarly communication landscape?

Abstract:  Preprinting has gained considerable momentum, and in some fields it has turned into a well-established way to share new scientific findings. The possibility to organise quality control and peer review for preprints is also increasingly highlighted, leading to the development of preprint review services. We report a descriptive study of preprint review services with the aim of developing a systematic understanding of the main characteristics of these services, evaluating how they manage preprint review, and positioning them in the broader scholarly communication landscape. Our study shows that preprint review services have the potential to turn peer review into a more transparent and rewarding experience and to improve publishing and peer review workflows. We are witnessing the growth of a mixed system in which preprint servers, preprint review services and journals operate mostly in complementary ways. In the longer term, however, preprint review services may disrupt the scholarly communication landscape in a more radical way.


The Peer Review Renaissance: An Urgent Call for Transformation – The Scholarly Kitchen

“An important consideration is to understand  the ways academia can disrupt the traditional concept of expertise.  The objective is to promote geographic and gender inclusivity, thereby expanding the talent pool to enable individuals to engage in reviewing and contributing to the field of science.

How can a combination of human expertise and AI make the peer review process more efficient? I envision a future where AI is not a threat or a cause for worry but a tool for enhancing efficiency.

What about post publication peer review? Will it come to replace peer review in its traditional form?  This paper, proposes that with a sufficiently large group of post-publication readers providing feedback, the accuracy of review could surpass that of traditional peer review. The obvious question for such models is how to ensure that the review actually takes place rather than being left to volunteerism and chance.

Finally, how can authors and reviewers unite and work together as a team instead of being on opposite sides? How can reviewers have ongoing discussions and conversations with the author during the review process itself? And what measures can authors and reviewers take to harmonize their efforts with the common aim of refining the paper to its highest potential?

This peer review renaissance is not merely a destination but a journey of continual improvement. There will be a lot of failed experiments as the process evolves. But every experiment will take us one step closer to our goal of making the process more robust, efficient, diverse, and collaborative.”

Open peer review, pros and cons from the perspective of an early career researcher | mBio

Abstract:  Peer review is considered by many to be a fundamental component of scientific publishing. In this context, open peer review (OPR) has gained popularity in recent years as a tool to increase transparency, rigor, and inclusivity in research. But how does OPR really affect the review process? How does OPR impact specific groups, such as early career researchers? This editorial explores and discusses these aspects as well as some suggested actions for journals.

Biomedical publishing: Past historic, present continuous, future conditional | PLOS Biology

Abstract:  Academic journals have been publishing the results of biomedical research for more than 350 years. Reviewing their history reveals that the ways in which journals vet submissions have changed over time, culminating in the relatively recent appearance of the current peer-review process. Journal brand and Impact Factor have meanwhile become quality proxies that are widely used to filter articles and evaluate scientists in a hypercompetitive prestige economy. The Web created the potential for a more decoupled publishing system in which articles are initially disseminated by preprint servers and then undergo evaluation elsewhere. To build this future, we must first understand the roles journals currently play and consider what types of content screening and review are necessary and for which papers. A new, open ecosystem involving preprint servers, journals, independent content-vetting initiatives, and curation services could provide more multidimensional signals for papers and avoid the current conflation of trust, quality, and impact. Academia should strive to avoid the alternative scenario, however, in which stratified publisher silos lock in submissions and simply perpetuate this conflation.


Reconsidering editorial consideration: Changing editorial assessment could reduce subjectivity in the publication process: EMBO reports: Vol 0, No 0

“Editorial assessment of relevancy, in particular at the pre-review stage, includes evaluations of journal-specific criteria: such as whether the work falls within the journal’s scope, adherence to technical guidelines, quality of the language and so on. But it also includes evaluation of whether the science is of interest to the journal. Indeed, a quick survey of various top biomedical journals’ guidelines—the “Aims and Scope” section to inform authors of the journal’s selection criteria—disclose that these aim to publish reports that are impactful, insightful, timely, elegant or “of surprising conclusions”, to name a few (www.nature.com/nature/journal-information). These vague terms are all subjective and thereby open to different interpretations by different individuals….

Pre-review editorial consideration is responsible for the vast majority of rejections, up to 90% in some journals (Laursen, 2021), which cannot simply be explained by lack of suitability, lack of adherence to journal guidelines or other objective criteria. Furthermore, pre-review editorial assessment usually does not consider inappropriate methodology, inaccurate conclusions or poor or incomplete analysis as these are typically handled by experts during the review stage.

Thus, it strongly implies that most initial rejections are based on subjective criteria that come on top of and overrule objective measures….

Pre-prints offer multiple benefits over journal-based publications by immediately exposing the science to a larger, more diverse audience, offer scooping protection, are citable and can still be submitted to traditional journals. Importantly, pre-prints are curated to a certain degree for completeness, quality, language and so forth, minimizing posting of subpar reports. The one major setback with this system is the poor engagement of the research community—so far only 5% of pre-prints have received comments although gradual increases are noted (Brainard, 2022). However, this scenario will necessarily change when the ball starts rolling….

Scientists already dedicate a substantial amount of their time towards reading manuscripts including pre-prints for their personal education and research, thus abandoning reviewing for journals would mean that they will have more time for commenting and reviewing the pre-prints they read anyway….

Removing editorial consideration from the publication process is not a panacea for all problems that plague science and publishing. But it would at least greatly reduce the subjectivity in the publication process and emancipate scientists from perpetual submissions–rejections rounds and from tiresome and lengthy review duties to assess if a paper is sufficiently “novel” and “relevant”. It would free scientists’ time to read and comment on pre-prints instead and make scientific research and findings accessible by anyone. This could engender a new culture of online commenting and reviewing and pave the way for new means of communication and interaction between scientists. For instance, posted manuscripts could be progressively modified or corrected in response to online comments, or other scientists could even post their own results alongside another pre-print in support or opposition to the results presented and their interpretation. This creates a scenario where smaller pieces of data—not enough to justify a full paper—can supplement other manuscripts, which actually reflects the “scientific endeavour” by allowing individual scientists to directly contribute to the greater task of understanding the world.”

Community input on Open Peer Review, trust and diversity

“With this short survey, we would like to solicit community input for our project at this year’s Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI2023). In our project, we will be studying the way in which Open Peer Review (OPR) models can contribute to diversity and trust in research. With OPR, we are particularly referring to modes of peer review in which actors’ identities are revealed (Open Identities), peer review reports are openly shared (Open Reports), or non-invited stakeholders are able to participate (Open Participation). While these models of peer review have the potential to contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion, their efficacy is still largely unknown. We are therefore curious to hear your thoughts on potential benefits or risks of OPR in your community, as well as open questions that you would like to see addressed.”

How does mandated code-sharing change peer review? – The Official PLOS Blog

“On March 31 2021, PLOS Computational Biology introduced a new journal requirement: mandated code sharing. If the research process included the creation of custom code, the authors were required to make it available during the peer review assessment, and to make it public upon the publication of their research article—similar to the longstanding data sharing requirement for all PLOS journals. The aim, of course, is to improve reproducibility and increase understanding of research.

At the end of the year-long trial period, code sharing had risen from 53% in 2019 to 87% for 2021 articles submitted after the policy went into effect. Evidence in hand, the journal Editors-in-Chief decided to make code sharing a permanent feature of the journal. Today, the sharing rate is 96%….”

A Case for Open Peer Review Podcasting in Academic Librarianship

Abstract:  Models of open peer review are being explored in multiple disciplines as academia seeks a more feminist, care-based approach to scholarship. One model of open peer review that aligns well with the work of information professionals, particularly those with information literacy instruction duties, is an open peer review podcast. This type of podcast, recorded before a manuscript is submitted for publication, brings an informal peer review process into the open as a host facilitates critical discussion of a research output between the researcher and a reviewer. This approach fosters a supportive community with shared values while utilizing the affordances of podcasting to make invisible labor visible and bring whole personhood into scholarship and scholarly communication. The author provides a case study of implementing this model with the creation of The LibParlor Podcast.