The Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing

The Munin Conference is an annual conference on scholarly publishing and communication, primarily revolving around open access, open data and open science. The next conference (2022) will be the seventeenth Munin […]

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Paris Open Science European Conference (OSEC)

France is organising a major international event in the context of the French Presidency of the European Union. This international conference is being organised with the strong support of the Ministry […]

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Building a Tool to Find Translated Scientific Articles

You know an article exists, but cannot read its language. So you go to our tool, paste the Digital Object Identifier of the article and get a list with translated versions. You manage your articles in a reference manager and notice that an article on your reading list is now also available in your mother tongue. You are really enthusiastic about a new article that was just published…

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Fifteen Years of PLOS ONE

2006 was a year of notable advances in human knowledge. This was the year that the gene sequence of human chromosome 1 was finalized, element 118 (ununoctium) was identified, and the first human papillomavirus vaccine was approved. Pluto was once again designated as a dwarf planet, gene sequences of Neandertal DNA were published, and Grigori Perelman’s proof of the Poincaré conjecture was independently validated (thrice!). 

Against this backdrop of progress and innovation, PLOS ONE sprang to life, publishing its first papers on December 20th, 2006. Conceived to “return control over scholarly publishing to the research community”, PLOS ONE broke conventions in academic publishing by prioritizing rigor over impact, and quality over advance. Its encompassing scope welcomed research from all disciplines, including highly interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research. 

The research community immediately took notice. First a trickle, then a stream, and then a flood of submissions came in from authors around the world. Our editorial board grew and editorial policies evolved. Fifteen years later, we have published over a quarter of a million papers, while retaining our commitment to publishing all ethically and methodologically rigorous research. 

Figure 1 – Cumulative publications in PLOS ONE, 2006 – 2021

To celebrate this important milestone for PLOS ONE, I reached out to several former PLOS staff members who had key roles shaping the journal and invited them to share their experiences. Their stories reflect the passion that we feel for this journal, its mission, and its community, and the important ways in which PLOS ONE has driven innovation over the years. They also point to a wild first few years, as the journal team raced to develop workflows to keep pace with the tide of submissions. Ginny Barbour, Co-Lead of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Office for Scholarly Communication and Director of Open Access Australasia, shares her reflections on the early days of PLOS ONE:

PLOS ONE was a project that everyone at PLOS passionately believed in. It was a natural extension of the existing journals, which we hoped would make open access a viable alternative for many more authors than were able to publish in our selective journals such as PLOS Medicine, where I worked.

We had no idea how successful it would be! Right from the beginning, submissions poured in, which proved a huge challenge for our intention of publishing all objectively sound, ethical research. Editors from the other journals pitched in to help with screening and for a while we had a daily rota to share the load.

Spearheading editorial standards in reporting and research ethics

As the submission volume grew, the PLOS editorial team worked to balance PLOS ONE’s mission of publishing all rigorous research with the priority of upholding high standards of research and publication ethics. The team recognized that the high volume of submissions placed a high volunteer burden on the editorial board and reviewers. Additionally, because the journal relied on a broad, diverse, and international editorial board to manage peer review, it needed a system in place to ensure that policies and editorial standards were consistently applied. Together, these factors led to the development of a pre-review submission scan, or “subscan” step, to triage manuscripts that did not meet PLOS ONE’s editorial standards. Damian Pattinson, Executive Director of eLife, remembers the development of the subscan process:

My years at PLOS ONE were some of the happiest, and certainly the most exhilarating, of my career. When I joined in January 2010, the journal was receiving around 500 submissions per month, which Matt Hodgkinson (then a freelancer) and I would assess individually for suitability for peer review (in the process known as ’subscanning’, which I believe was originally invented by Catriona MacCallum and Emma Veitch). At that volume we were just about able to keep on top of every paper and make judgments on what was suitable, but it also quickly became clear that robust editorial policies were needed to deal with all the issues we were seeing. For example there was extraordinary variability in the ethical oversight of the research being submitted, so we worked to create policies that set high standards for animal and human research. As we grew over the following years (to almost 5000 submissions per month when I left!), these policies were adopted by other journals, including the newly-forming megajournals.  As a result they became the de facto standard for a vast swathe of the literature, thereby improving ethical standards across the research community as a whole. This is perhaps one of the lesser known areas in which PLOS ONE was a pioneer, but probably the one I’m most proud of.

Ginny Barbour adds:

With my particular interest in publication ethics, I got asked to look especially at some of the most hair-raising submissions. The need to develop ways to handle such issues was the beginning of the rigorous PLOS ONE screening process, which in many ways led the way for the concept of ethical publishing at scale that other mega-journals adopted.

Through the years, the subscan process evolved to encompass additional checks to ensure that research was not only ethically rigorous, but met community standards to ensure reproducibility and transparency in reporting. Where existing standards existed, the journal adopted them – for example, we require PRISMA checklists and flow diagrams for systematic reviews, summary validation reports for macromolecular structures, and protocol documentation and registration for clinical trials. Where standards did not exist, but a need for standards existed in the community, PLOS developed new guidelines to fill these gaps. Matt Hodgkinson, Head of Editorial Policy and Ethics at Hindawi, explains:

Upholding rigour was always key and the development of our own guidelines for meta-analyses of genetic association studies is a good example of that. That guidance was cited in an editorial in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Pushing the boundaries of open science

With these policies in place, publications flowed rapidly through the pipeline. PLOS ONE’s early success with its unique publication criteria soon attracted the attention of other publishers. Matt Hodgkinson remembers:

I joined in 2010 at the transition from experiment to established journal. The challenge was scale, moving from an authorship and editorial board of early-adopters and Open Access supporters to mainstream researchers as submissions rapidly climbed, helped along by the first Impact Factor being given that summer. The ONE publishing team was tiny – me, Damian, Pete [Binfield], and Lindsay King (now Howell), plus Emma Veitch and Catriona as consulting editors – and had expanded enormously by the time I left in 2016. ONE cemented the idea of publishing sound science regardless of perceived interest level or impact and the launch of competing megajournals in the wake of our success was gratifying: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

PLOS embraced the emergence of other new Open Access megajournals, even though the new journals introduced competition within the publishing market. After all, PLOS ONE was launched to support PLOS’ mission to transform research communication. By inspiring additional journals and ensuring that yet more research would be publicly available, PLOS ONE’s positive effects on access to knowledge extended far beyond the boundaries of its own digital pages. 

In some cases, difficult editorial situations led to innovative solutions that further advanced PLOS’ mission. Iratxe Puebla, Associate Director at ASAPbio, remembers a time where PLOS ONE’s publication criteria and Open Access publishing model drove knowledge forward:  

PLOS ONE was created to remove barriers: for authors to publish their work (related to scope or perceived impact) and for readers to access and reuse scientific content. Looking back at the many initiatives and papers I was involved with during my time at PLOS, there is one article that exemplifies this goal of facilitating openness.

In 2014 PLOS ONE handled a paper that reported a re-analysis of previous publications reporting the creation of “striped nanoparticles”. The authors completed a re-analysis and critique of those findings and wished to publish their work in a journal so that it would be part of the scientific record, on the same ground as the original articles. The authors had had trouble getting earlier critiques published in journals, and decided to submit the paper to PLOS ONE. This is where the first barrier went down: PLOS ONE would not reject the manuscript because it reported a re-analysis or because it relied on previously available data, the evaluation would focus on the rigor of the methodology and the validity of the conclusions.

The paper underwent a thorough peer review process and was accepted. But then we encountered a dilemma: the re-analysis required comparisons to images in the original publications where the journals owned copyright. Should we ask for permission to publish the images under a single-use license or request to republish them under the CC BY license used by PLOS ONE? While the former would have been the traditional (and easier) approach, we chose to pursue the latter. Why? Because the journal wanted to make all its content be available for reuse, for both humans and machines, without having to check individual figures in individual articles for the permitted uses. The PLOS ONE team worked with the authors and the publishers of the original articles, and we were pleased that they agreed to have the images republished under the CC BY license. As a result, the full article, including all images, is available for reuse without license-related barriers.

Figure 2 – Do striped nanoparticles exist? Figure 3 from Stirling J, Lekkas I, Sweetman A, Djuranovic P, Guo Q, Pauw B, et al. (2014) Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Striped Nanoparticles. PLOS ONE 9(11): e108482. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108482 

Centering our community

In the first decade after launch, much work at PLOS ONE focused on developing internal policies to guide robust review of the hundreds of submissions we received each week and building up the editorial board to handle these submissions. As PLOS ONE passed a decade of publishing, the journal team considered the future of PLOS ONE and academic publishing. Joerg Heber, Research Integrity Officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discusses how he brought changes to the journal to ensure that it would continue to deliver on its mission and meet the needs of its community:

I became PLOS ONE’s Editor-in-Chief in November 2016, just prior to its 10-year anniversary. In many ways, the journal was at a turning point with falling submissions owing to competition by other journals. In response, we went back to the basics: a focus on author service. We refreshed our editorial board with 3,000 new Academic Editors, which helped to improve manuscript turnaround times. And we improved the editorial screening of submissions to ensure their scientific validity.  These successes provided us with a solid basis from which we could continue editorial innovations in publishing, such as published peer review history or support of registered reports. PLOS ONE was (and I reckon still is) a fast-paced, wild and intensely stimulating environment, and all these successes would not have been possible without the tremendous dedication and supreme talents of all those that contribute to the journal from all departments within PLOS!

The improvements that Joerg helped to put in place ensured that author service – and a focus on our community – remained at the heart of the journal. While expanding our editorial board, we put in place a team dedicated to supporting our Academic Editors. We established a publication ethics team, who rigorously investigate pre- and post-publication concerns raised on PLOS ONE papers. We also developed four specialized editorial teams within the journal – devoted to Life Sciences, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Public Health and Medicine – composed of staff editors with the expertise needed to offer constructive support to authors, reviewers and Academic Editors throughout the review and publication process. 

This foundation provided the necessary support for subsequent innovations at the journal. We’re now in a strong position where we can look out, look around, and ask our communities how we can help them open their research. In recent years we’ve facilitated posting of preprints to allow authors to share their findings with the community earlier and establish priority for their research. We’ve enabled authors to publish the peer review history of their manuscripts, supporting transparency in peer review and bringing recognition to reviewers. We have also launched Registered Reports, Study Protocols and Lab Protocols to support credit, transparency and reproducibility in research and combat publication bias. 

We’ve also committed to better serving our communities by working to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in publishing. Indeed, in partnership with researchers from South Africa, New Zealand, the USA, and Kenya, we have co-developed a new policy to increase inclusion in global research. We have also recently published collections of papers on Health and Health Care in Gender-Diverse Communities, Diagnostic Tests in Low-Resource Settings, and Health Inequities and Disparities Research, and launched a Call for Papers on Cancer and Social Inequity. To spur broader change, we’ve also joined forces with other publishers in calling to make scholarly publishing more diverse and inclusive.

Where do we go from here? Suzanne Farley, the Editorial Director at PLOS, and I will discuss our vision for PLOS ONE and PLOS more generally in a future blog post. Importantly, nothing that we hope to accomplish, and nothing that we’ve accomplished in years past, would have been possible without the support of our community – the 9500+ Academic Editors, hundreds of thousands of reviewers, and millions of authors and readers who have made PLOS ONE into the journal it is today. This milestone is possible because of you. Thank you all for supporting Open Science and joining us in our efforts to transform research communication. 

The post Fifteen Years of PLOS ONE appeared first on EveryONE.

Publishing Behaviour in Economics: Coronavirus Pandemic Turns out to Be a Temporary Shock

by Olaf Siegert

COVID-19 has not only had an important influence on daily life, but also on our professional work as researchers and service providers. Trends towards increasing digitisation of the entire research process, in particular through remote conferences and meetings, have changed the dynamics of how research teams interact. Changes in publishing models were also driven by the unique shock of the pandemic to the scientific system. But are there differences regarding changes in publication behaviour in different research disciplines, e.g. in Economics and Business Studies?

Based on these questions the ZBW organised a virtual workshop to highlight recent studies that address and inves-tigate these changes in publication behaviour in response to COVID-19. So, in September 2021 more than 50 participants came together to engage in a productive exchange of ideas.

The seven presentations of the workshop were grouped in two thematic sessions followed by an open discussion with all attendees. The first session focused on general trends in the publishing behaviour of researchers in Economics and Business Studies. The second session was mainly con-cerned with gender disparities in publication behaviour, i.e. the differences in the productivity of women and men during the corona crisis and how these relate to differences in pressures experi-enced by women and men (e.g. childcare during lockdown). The effects of COVID-19 on the role of Social Media and Peer Review in scholarly publishing and its overall impact on the academic reputa-tion system were discussed with all workshop participants at the end of the meeting.

General trends in publishing behaviour during the corona crisis

The first session started with a presentation by Klaus Wohlrabe (ifo Institute Munich) on „The in-fluence of Covid19 on the publication behaviour in economics – Bibliometric evidence from five working paper series (PDF). In his paper Wohlrabe analyses, how the pandemic influenced the publication behav-iour in the area of Economics. He considered articles published in five working paper series (NBER, CEPR, IZA, CESifo and MPRA) to answer questions like: „In what areas of economics were COVID-19-related studies published?“ or „Do COVID-19 papers have been downloaded more often com-pared to other economics papers?“.

The second presenter was Nicholas Fraser (ZBW) with a presentation of his paper „Publishing of working papers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a survey of economics researchers“. He compared repositories from different disciplines (e.g. SSRN, RePEc, BioRxiv and medRxiv) to analyse the changes in publication behaviour, e.g. regarding publication output.

After that Emilia Di Lorenzo (University of Naples Federico II, Italy), Gabriella Piscopo (University of Naples Federico II, Italy) and Marilena Sibillo (University of Salerno, Italy) talked about their paper „Economics and Business Studies during the pandemic and beyond: new research trends“ (PDF). They focused on the developments of research in the field of insurance sciences, based on a bibliometric analysis of the Web of Science database.

The last presenter in the first session, Kristin Biesenbender (ZBW) showcased first results from her PhD study „Publication behaviour of German economists in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic“ based on EconBiz data. The possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on publication formats, internationalisation, co-authorship and Open Access were presented. The focus was on whether it makes a difference whether a researcher is at the beginning of her : his scientific career or already established.

Gender disparities in publication behaviour during the pandemic

The first presentation in the second half of the workshop came from four researchers from the University of Cambridge, namely Noriko Amano-Patiño, Elisa Faraglia, Chryssi Giannitsarou and Zeina Hasna on “The Unequal Effects of Covid-19 on Economists’ Research Productivity”. They used data mainly from the NBER and CEPR working paper series to explore the patterns of working paper publica-tions. Among other things, they found that gender differences are particularly stark at the mid-career level.

The second presenter was Tatyana Deryugina (University of Illinois, USA) on “Gender Disparities and Covid-19”. She discovered in her survey of academics across various disciplines that female and male academics experienced a substantial increase in time spent on childcare and housework and that the increase was even larger for women. This also led to a reduction of time available for research when compared to men and to women without children.

Illustration from the Workshop “The Impact of Covid-19”, Detail, Helge Windisch

Simone Chinetti from the University of Salerno (Italy) showcased his recent paper „Academic productivity and pandemic – evidence from female economists during the COVID-19 crisis“. He investigated how the current pandemic affects the productivity of female economists, including the sudden increase in domestic work and childcare to be done by women due to school closures and social distanc-ing measures. His data sample came from SSRN papers published between January and November 2020. He found a decline regarding the number of uploaded papers from female economists com-pared to their male counterparts.

Discussion on the change of publishing behaviour in times of a pandemic

The third session of the workshop was an open discussion among participants chaired by Isabella Peters (ZBW). They discussed the following topics:

  • Are research results being shared more intensively via Social Media (e.g. Twitter) or via other online media (e.g. in blogs, news articles)?
  • What is the mode and role of Peer Review when publishing in a pandemic? Are there expe-riences with other formats of Peer Review (e.g. Rapid Reviews, Open Peer Reviews, Open Review Reports)?
  • How has the pandemic affected the scientific reputation system in Economics and Business Studies? What are positions and approaches from learned societies, universities or re-search funders?

To sum up, the workshop resulted in the following four core conclusions:

  1. COVID-19 has meanwhile led to a sharp increase in publication activity, which can be seen above all in the number of preprints published (mostly called “working papers” in Econom-ics). However, this was apparently a temporary effect, which was especially noticeable in spring / summer 2020 and has now subsided.
  2. The pandemic itself was a very strong topic in preprints in economics – around 15% of all publications that have been published since the beginning of the corona crisis also deal with it. Here, too, the effect was stronger in 2020 and is now slowly decreasing again. COVID-19-related papers were also used more, i.e. downloaded and cited.
  3. In relation to gender, a stronger publication activity was temporarily observed among men when compared to women. The slump among women was particularly evident in mothers of young children, who were particularly affected by lockdown and home schooling. Here, too, the effect now seems to be decreasing.
  4. With regard to the reputation system in Economics, COVID-19 does not seem to have any major effects. Above all, the pandemic has positively influenced the publication behaviour in the area of preprints – the importance of journal rankings and the submission behaviour in journals have changed little or not at all.

The detailed workshop programme including abstracts is available here.

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Author: Olaf Siegert
Olaf Siegert is head of the Publication Services department and Open Access Representative of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. He is involved with open access as part of his work at the ZBW and is also active for the Leibniz Association, where he represents the Leibniz Open Access working group in external committees. He is involved in the Alliance of Science Organisations in the working group Scientific Publication System and at Science Europe for the Leibniz Association.

The post Publishing Behaviour in Economics: Coronavirus Pandemic Turns out to Be a Temporary Shock first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

scholar-led.network: New Support for Scientific Publication Projects

An interview with Juliane Finger and Marcel Wrzesinski

Public money, public asset.

The scholar-led.network (German) wants to change this and advocates fair, diverse and public spirit-oriented publishing. In doing so, it is committed to and involved in Open Access journals, book publishers and blogs which are run collaboratively by scientists in order to give the diverse community of publication initiatives a voice. The network aims to be an advocate for independent, non-profit-oriented Open Access and to ensure sustainability in a field which is often characterised by project-based funding. In the interview, network co-founders Juliane Finger and Marcel Wrzesinski introduce the initiative and discuss its challenges, goals and initial plans.

The scholar-led.network has recently been established. Who is behind it and what exactly is it? What are your goals?

The scholar-led.network is an alliance of Open Access stakeholders that was constituted at the beginning of 2021 as a “digital focus group” in the context of the project “open-access.network”. The work of the scholar-led.network draws upon the project findings of several projects on non-chargeable Open Access, focussing particularly on scholar-led initiatives such as the establishment of a community platform in the project “Open Gender Platform “ (German) or innovative publication solutions in the project “InnOAccess” (see the White Paper on technology and on business models).

The idea behind the scholar-led.network is initially the network concept: Publishers of scholar-led publication projects, representatives of infrastructure institutions, stakeholders of research institutions and universities should – all those come together to join forces for strong scholar-led publishing.

For us, scholar-led means: publishing on behalf of science and independent of profit-oriented large publishing houses and/or escalating commercial interests.

The scholar-led.network will then also serve to give the diverse publication initiatives a common voice. We identify fields of action and want to develop strategies to improve the situation of scholar-led publication initiatives.

Why is it necessary to take action in this field? What are the problems/challenges?

Despite the upheavals currently taking place in the publication system, we see the danger that “old” problems will continue. The Open Access movement originally developed from the idea of solving the so-called journal crisis. This generally refers to the efforts of several major science publishing houses in the 1990s to continually increase the fees for accessing academic journals, owing to their respective monopoly position. However, these large commercial publishers have now also identified Open Access as a business model for themselves. To finance Open Access publications, authors or their institutions often have to pay high article processing charges (APC). This creates new inequalities. Because not everyone can afford the article processing charges – or only those who are affiliated with a solvent institution.

Scholar-led initiatives also have specific problems to contend with: just like all other journals, they need money for their on-going operations, technology and staff. As non-chargeable Open Access, however, their financial situation is extremely precarious and greatly depends on the voluntary or “gifted” work of editors. In addition, funding in Germany is thus far and above all project-related and time-limited. This means that it may be possible to apply for funding to transfer a journal to the non-chargeable Open Access system, for example at the German Research Foundation. Yet in the long-term, the journals have to develop their own financing structures – a strategic direction of the funding is lacking. A further problem is the lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of those responsible for the subject and research institutions: the many small and interdisciplinary scholar-led projects often unintentionally fall through the disciplinary or institutional cracks and are forgotten.

When establishing the network, you also published a manifesto (German). What are you demanding and from whom?

The manifesto is intended to raise awareness of the precarious situation of many scholar-led projects in a provocative way. It starts the ball rolling for a discussion on the topic. We demand that more is done to strengthen scholar-led initiatives. In the manifesto we have identified three recommendations for action:

  • Firstly, we demand more connectivity, collaboration and a strategic framework to improve the situation of scholar-led publication initiatives.
  • Secondly, we demand the establishment of sustainable funding structures. Current funding for non-commercial publication initiatives is primarily project-based and therefore short-term, making it more difficult for scholar-led initiatives to establish themselves sustainably.
  • And thirdly, biblio-diversity should be supported. As well as the acceptance for new and heterogeneous publication formats, this includes new standards for aspects of quality assurance and accessibility of publications.

Incidentally, we are not alone in these demands: The most recently published study on Diamond Open Access by OPERAS and SPARC Europe makes very similar recommendations for action. All these points are addressed to a wide public: the scientific community, science policy, funding organisations, university administrations and libraries.

Who can join in? What and who are you looking for?

The network is open to new members. Scholar-led initiatives are welcome to join the network and connect with each other. But we also invite other stakeholders – whose primary interest lies in supporting non-commercial publication initiatives – to participate. These could be libraries, but also non-profit-oriented publishing companies such as university presses. In this way, we aim to make new partnerships on the basis of common interests possible, e.g. a non-commercial hosting service and a scholar-led journal. Anyone who is interested can find further information on the website of the scholar-led.network.

Which specific activities are you planning?

At the moment, the network meets for regular interexchange. The next meetings will discuss current researchs, sustainable strategies and practical solution approaches. Every meeting involves input from current projects on the scholar-led topic – so as to encourage discussion from a practical perspective.

Further activities are possible in the medium term, such as collaboratively generated information collections (e.g. an own Wiki) or forming affiliations for strategically coordinated negotiations. We are still in the discovery phase here and open for suggestions or ideas from everyone interested.

We were talking to Juliane Finger and Marcel Wrzesinski. This text has been translated from German.

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Pearson Launches a Comprehensive Textbook Solution for Students. What Are Its Prospects?

Pearson is offering online access to its entire textbook collection for $15 a month. Will students go for it?

The post Pearson Launches a Comprehensive Textbook Solution for Students. What Are Its Prospects? appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Announcing the Single Source Publishing Community Launch!

The Single Source Publishing Community (SSPC) is focused on scholarly publishing and is a meeting place for researchers, educators, publishers, and software developers. The community looks to help Single Source Publishing (SSP) technology to work better for Open Access, Open Science, in learning, and for Bibliodiversity. Drop in on our discussion board, join the monthly ‘SSPC Show & Tell’ sessions…

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Life without a Journal Deal

What is it like to work at a library where the largest journal subscription deal was terminated? How do the researchers really feel about it? And what solutions are recommended? In this episode, we explore what Swedish librarians and researchers experienced during the time period when they didn’t have a journal deal with Elsevier (from …

The post Life without a Journal Deal appeared first on Open Science Talk.

Open Code and Peer Review

In this episode, we are talking about “open code” or “open source” and the benefits of making your code available in a peer review process and having it checked. Our guest is Dr. Stephen Eglen from the department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Together with Dr. Daniel Nüst, from …

The post Open Code and Peer Review appeared first on Open Science Talk.

Building research evidence towards reproducibility of animal research

Since our debut in late 2006, PLOS ONE has strived to promote best practices in research reporting as a way to improve reproducibility in research. We have supported initiatives towards increased transparency, as well as