“Imagine if the integrity of the publishing process didn’t rely purely on publishers’ ability to detect fraud, malpractice, or mistakes based on the limited information available in a submitted manuscript. Instead, what if this responsibility were spread throughout the ecosystem, from funder grant management system, to data management plan, to data center, to lab notebook, to preprint, to published version of record, making use of trusted assertions to build an open, verifiable research environment that also leverages transparency so that publishers, funders, institutions, and other researchers could all trace findings and claims back through the whole research process?
The vision I laid out above may sound utopian, but much of the technology and tools required already exist. As well as the TREs [Trusted Research Environments], which can be seen as a model for traceability, and ORCID trust markers, which illustrate how the same thing can be done securely in the open, initiatives like Center for Open Science, and Octopus show how a range of outputs and activities can be used to document the entire research process.
The problem is not technology, it’s a wicked mix of perverse incentives, network effects, business model inertia, and sustainability challenges that lock us all into the same restrictive ideas about what constitutes a research publication, and what counts for prestige and career advancement. To address the range of challenges from poor research practice to industrial-scale fraud by paper mills, we need a whole-sector approach that involves funders, institutional research management and libraries, researchers, and publishers. As fellow Chef Alice Meadows and I wrote in a previous post, it really does take a village, and cross-sector collaboration is vital to building the interoperable research information infrastructure needed to connect the people, places, and things of the scholarly ecosystem in a way that is verifiable and trusted.”