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.”

20 minute action: provide feedback on a funder proposal that would support preprints & open review – ASAPbio

“Take cOAlition S’s survey by the November 29th deadline to support a new model of publishing

cOAlition S, an initiative of more than 2 dozen national funders and charitable organizations, has recently released the “Towards Responsible Publishing” proposal.

The two key features of this proposal, as stated in an introductory blog post, are:


1. Authors, not third-party suppliers, decide when and what to publish.

In such a ‘scholar-led’ publishing system, third-party suppliers can still offer and charge for services that facilitate peer review, publication and preservation. However, they will not block scholars from sharing their work at any stage during the research and dissemination process.

2. The scholarly record includes the full range of outputs created during the research cycle, and not just the final journal-accepted version.

By making early article versions and peer review feedback critical elements of the scholarly record, a future scholarly communication system can capture research ‘in the act’. Shining a light on how research progresses towards increasingly trustworthy knowledge creation offers opportunities for reviewing and filtering scholarly outputs for the purposes of curation and research assessment.
 Towards Responsible Publishing…”

AI writes summaries of preprints in bioRxiv trial

“The bioRxiv pilot is part of a broader trend of using LLMs to help researchers — and the public — keep afloat in the tsunami of scientific literature. The physics-focused preprint server arXiv uses AI to generate audio summaries of some papers, and publishers and funders are starting to roll out features that allow users to ‘talk to a paper’ through a chatbot….

Before rolling out the service, Sever and his colleagues evaluated several dozen summaries produced by the tool. Most were pretty good, he says, and some were even better than the abstracts scientists had written. Others included clear falsehoods. “We know there are going to be errors in these things,” Sever says….

If the pilot becomes a fully fledged service, bioRxiv might look at routinely involving authors in proofreading and approving the content, Sever says. For now, to minimize the consequences of errors, the pilot is not being rolled out to medRxiv, a sister medical-research preprint server run by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, the London-based publisher BMJ and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. MedRxiv studies typically have clinical relevance, and errors could guide patient behaviour. By limiting the pilot to bioRxiv, says Sever, “the consequences of being wrong are more that somebody might feel misled or misunderstand a fairly arcane study in cell biology”. …”

[2311.09657] Open Access in Ukraine: characteristics and evolution from 2012 to 2021

This study investigates development of open access (OA) to publications produced by authors affiliated with Ukrainian universities and research organisations in the period 2012-2021. In order to get a comprehensive overview we assembled data from three popular databases: Dimensions, Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus. Our final dataset consisted of 187,135 records. To determine the OA status of each article, this study utilised Unpaywall data which was obtained via API. It was determined that 71.5% of all considered articles during the observed period were openly available at the time of analysis. Our findings show that gold OA was the most prevalent type of OA through a 10 years studied period. We also took a look at how OA varies by research fields, how dominant large commercial publishers are in disseminating national research and the preferences of authors regarding where to self-archive articles versions. We concluded that Ukraine needs to be thoughtful with engagement with large publishers and make sure academics control publishing, not for profit companies, which would monopolise research output distribution, leaving national publishers behind. Beyond that we put a special emphasis on the importance of FAIRness of national scholarly communication infrastructure in monitoring OA uptake.

Broadening audience, increasing understanding

“Many biomedical research papers are readily understood only by those who know as much about the topic as their authors do. There are understandable reasons for this. Science is increasingly specialized, which means that aficionados of specific fields develop terminologies, nomenclatures, and even technologies that can make the work feel impenetrable. So even working scientists reading outside their own area of expertise can struggle to understand what was actually done and why it is important.

As a preprint server that costs nothing to read, bioRxiv has a massive, worldwide audience that views and downloads millions of articles each month. We don’t track readers or ask them to register but we have anecdotal evidence for who they are. Enormous numbers of professional scientists, clearly, but many other kinds of readers too, including undergraduate and medical students, teachers at every level, journalists, patients and their advocates, and members of the public who are intellectually curious about our world and biology. These more general readers must also grapple with articles not written with them in mind….”

Perspectives on open access publishing in India: Interview with Sridhar Gutam | Editage Insights

“The landscape of open access in India is evolving, following a global trend. However, what continues to steer scholarly communications in India is the pursuit of a high impact factor or journal prestige. Many open access journals favored by Indian authors impose substantial article-processing charges (APCs), which often prove unaffordable. Meanwhile, subscription-based journals restrict the free sharing of articles. Although ResearchGate has gained popularity as a repository among Indian authors, institutional repositories are not seeing significant contributions of postprints. Notably, IndiaRxiv and AgriXiv (now partnered with Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International [CABI] as agriRxiv) are facing challenges in garnering preprints, whereas bioRxiv, in contrast, is experiencing a surge in contributions from Indian scientists….”


Mounier & Dumas Primbault (2023) Sustaining Knowledge and Governing its Infrastructure in the Digital Age: An Integrated View | Zenodo

Mounier, P., & Dumas Primbault, S. (2023). Sustaining Knowledge and Governing its Infrastructure in the Digital Age: An Integrated View. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10036402


Preprint of a programmatic article on the governance and ecology of digital knowledge infrastructures stemming from a year of seminars and workshops led between September 2021 and June 2022 at the Laboratory for the history of science and technology (LHST) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) while Pierre Mounier (EHESS, OpenEdition) was visiting scholar.


Studying “Pre-Truth” Science: The 2023 Scholarly Communications Institute – Scholarly Communications Lab | ScholCommLab

“The annual Scholarly Communications Institute (SCI) offers opportunities for interdisciplinary and international teams to come together to pursue complex projects related to a common theme. In this blog post, lab member Alice Fleerackers reflects on her experiences collaborating with scholars and journalists to understand and improve the ways preprints are reported in the news….”

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.


Posting preprints: ‘There is no reason not to’ – Leiden University

“Waltman posts all of his work as preprints. ‘After I post it on a preprint server, I announce this in an active community I’m in on Mastodon. The resulting discussions with policymakers and fellow researchers are really valuable ? more valuable than investing loads of time in journals.’ He is therefore considering stopping publishing in journals altogether.

If you do that, aren’t you missing out on people outside your own network? ‘We have to remember that many journals are really niche. Is that really the main audience you want to reach? And, I think we’re moving away from the idea that you have to read articles because they are in a particular journal. Nowadays, for example, you can go to Google Scholar and easily search through all the journals, and following the right people on social media is an efficient way to get information about interesting new articles.’

Another question many people will have is whether you don’t need publications for your academic career. That’s putting it too simply says Waltman. ‘It’s true that researchers are sometimes judged on journal publications, but this is changing in the Netherlands, under the influence of the national Recognition & Rewards programme. I am also proud that our university working hard on this as part of its Academia in Motion initiative….”

Scholar Freedom | Home

“You don’t need to wait months or years to publish your research in journals taking forever to reply because they’re waiting to find reviewers not angry about being unpaid, and then perhaps pay thousands from your own pocket or the public’s to make it free. You upload your work when you believe it is of the highest defensible quality, at low cost to help the platform run, and some for free!

You can get paid by your readers for preprints and publications – unheard of in traditional journals – because we actually value you and believe you should be remunerated for your research. No matter which plan you pick, you set your own prices for all your outputs, and with the approval of co-authors can change them at any time. This gives you full financial freedom and control over your sales plan….

If you select the Premium Plan after our Reparation Profit Scheme (RPS) has opened, you will be seen as a shareholder so will get a piece of the annual profits – a simple and real thank you for choosing to publish on an equity-seeking system. Our blog ‘The prove it again bias’ explains how the RPS will humbly aim to rectify injustices in the way labour is remunerated once we hit critical mass….”

Full publication of preprint articles in prevention research: an analysis of publication proportions and results consistency | Scientific Reports

Abstract:  There is concern that preprint articles will lead to an increase in the amount of scientifically invalid work available. The objectives of this study were to determine the proportion of prevention preprints published within 12 months, the consistency of the effect estimates and conclusions between preprint and published articles, and the reasons for the nonpublication of preprints. Of the 329 prevention preprints that met our eligibility criteria, almost half (48.9%) were published in a peer-reviewed journal within 12 months of being posted. While 16.8% published preprints showed some change in the magnitude of the primary outcome effect estimate, 4.4% were classified as having a major change. The style or wording of the conclusion changed in 42.2%, the content in 3.1%. Preprints on chemoprevention, with a cross-sectional design, and with public and noncommercial funding had the highest probabilities of publication. The main reasons for the nonpublication of preprints were journal rejection or lack of time. The reliability of preprint articles for evidence-based decision-making is questionable. Less than half of the preprint articles on prevention research are published in a peer-reviewed journal within 12 months, and significant changes in effect sizes and/or conclusions are still possible during the peer-review process.