Lessons from the pandemic: Embrace ‘open science,’ confront exclusion of investigators

“Will this trend to freely disseminate research papers prior to peer review and their acceptance by journals be sustained after the pandemic, when the sense of urgency recedes? I certainly hope so. This would be a lasting, beneficial consequence of the pandemic. By reducing the power of the journals to hold research hostage through long and often unnecessarily contentious peer review, preprints not only speed up the process but also democratize science for some in other parts the world who do not have access to expensive journal subscriptions.”

Four years of chemistry preprints | Feature | Chemistry World

“Then, in August 2017, two things happened. First, the SSRN preprint server (originally for social sciences and currently run by publishing giant Elsevier) launched an offshoot called the Chemistry Research Network (ChemRN). Then, a week or so later, ChemRxiv was launched by the American Chemical Society (ACS) – it is now run as a collaboration between the ACS, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the chemical societies of China, Japan and Germany….

Neither was initially welcomed with wholly open arms into the chemistry community. An insistence – especially from some journal editors – that depositing work caused it to lose the required novelty to warrant publication in their journals was the biggest issue, explains Donna Blackmond, a professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in California, US, and a member of the ChemRxiv scientific advisory board.


At the start, some chemistry journals accepted submissions that had been preprinted, some did not and many others left authors guessing by not having a preprint policy at all. It took about year for all the chemistry journals to accept preprints, says Blackmond. The ACS flagship journal, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, held out the longest….

Four years after their launch, the preprint servers are now finding their feet in the chemistry community. In 2020, 5137 preprints were posted on ChemRxiv and 3538 on ChemRN. The same year, ChemRxiv preprints were accessed a total of 16,120,921 times and ChemRN pre-prints downloaded 499,553 times….”


Ben Barres Spotlight Awards: Applications open for 2021 | Inside eLife | eLife

eLife has today opened applications for the 2021 Ben Barres Spotlight Awards – an initiative to support the work of researchers from underrepresented backgrounds and from countries with limited funding.

This year’s awards are our most inclusive to date, with researchers of all career stages eligible to apply based on their country of work, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background. To show our support for researchers who have embraced new ways of publishing and reviewing research, the awards are, for the first time, also open to authors of refereed preprints with publicly available reviews in addition to eLife authors.

How misconduct helped psychological science to thrive

“Despite this history, before Stapel, researchers were broadly unaware of these problems or dismissed them as inconsequential. Some months before the case became public, a concerned colleague and I proposed to create an archive that would preserve the data collected by researchers in our department, to ensure reproducibility and reuse. A council of prominent colleagues dismissed our proposal on the basis that competing departments had no similar plans. Reasonable suggestions that we made to promote data sharing were dismissed on the unfounded grounds that psychology data sets can never be safely anonymized and would be misused out of jealousy, to attack well-meaning researchers. And I learnt about at least one serious attempt by senior researchers to have me disinvited from holding a workshop for young researchers because it was too critical of suboptimal practices….

Much of the advocacy and awareness has been driven by early-career researchers. Recent cases show how preregistering studies, replication, publishing negative results, and sharing code, materials and data can both empower the self-corrective mechanisms of science and deter questionable research practices and misconduct….

For these changes to stick and spread, they must become systemic. We need tenure committees to reward practices such as sharing data and publishing rigorous studies that have less-than-exciting outcomes. Grant committees and journals should require preregistration or explanations of why it is not warranted. Grant-programme officers should be charged with checking that data are made available in accordance with mandates, and PhD committees should demand that results are verifiable. And we need to strengthen a culture in which top research is rigorous and trustworthy, as well as creative and exciting….”

Diosi Project Trailer – YouTube

“The DIOSI project proposes a full cycle concept on doctoral education, from the development of a new joint doctoral educational programme, through the provision of training on Open Science and Open Innovation & Entrepreneurship for doctoral candidates and early career researchers (DCs and ECRs), to the measurement of impact of such training, by creating an impact and graduate tracking framework.”

Preventing the Matthew principle in science publishing – Speijer – – BioEssays – Wiley Online Library

“During the pandemic, interactions with students had to be from a distance. This got me to think about biases in assessments. In one of the courses, students had to reflect on a technically difficult “Omics” paper, answering questions and giving critical feedback. As individual student-teacher interactions had to be quite minimal, I ended up with a bunch of documents with “faceless” names. In the process of marking different student’s valiant efforts I noticed that, unsurprisingly, names still automatically conjured up faces, as names contain information regarding gender and ethnicity. Of course, I try to combat conscious prejudice. But “ay, there’s the rub”: only a fool would deny unconscious prejudices. I am far from the first to notice that all kinds of (un)conscious biases pervade our (digital) work environment. Some can be more easily circumvented than others. In the case of my exams, a simple intermediary program removing all personal information and generating a random number, would do the trick.

Could such an intake system also be of use in publishing, as is currently being tried out by some publishing start-ups (or should I say “up-starts”?). One objection might be that there are real benefits to how the system currently operates. Aren’t the “top” researchers better known for a reason? Overall, they produce higher quality work, so they should have easier access to widely read journals. Also, lesser known scientists making grandiose claims: should these indeed not be looked at more critically? Thus, it is reasoned, the identity of the people and the institute responsible for the paper just gives another valid criterion to base assessment on. On the other hand, high quality work should be able to stand on its own, and grandiose claims should always be met with skepticism, irrespective of the identity of the claimant….”

Impact of “impact factor” on early-career scientists | Rising Kashmir

“Usage of JIF by the scientific community as a predictor of impact has also increased, even while evidence of its predictive value has eroded; both correlations between article citation rate and JIF and proportions of highly cited articles published in high-impact journals have declined since 1990. Because digitization of journal content and proliferation of open-access articles have profoundly changed how relevant literature is located and cited. Having reviewed its history, a Web of Science search was carried out for articles published last year relevant to JIF; of 88 articles, about half are critiques of JIF, yet the other half, for the most part, are journal editorials touting a new or higher impact factor for the year….

Hiring and promotion decisions are too important to be subject to the influence of a metric so vulnerable to manipulation and misrepresentation. Journals can boost their JIF by encouraging selective journal self-citation and by changing journal composition through a preferential publication of reviews, articles in fields with large constituencies, or articles on research topics with short half-lives. JIF has degenerated into a marketing tool for journals as illustrated by the use of “Unofficial Impact Factors” in promotional material for journals that are not even indexed in Web of Science; also they are marketing tools for academic institutions as illustrated by the practice of Clarivate Analytics (which now owns Science Citation Index) of awarding paper certificates and electronic “badges” for scientists determined to be Highly Cited Researchers (HCRs, #HighlyCited) by virtue of publishing papers in the top 1% by citations for their field and publication year. …


In Science, it has been widely noted that using JIF as a proxy for scientific excellence undermines incentives to pursue novel, time-consuming, and potentially groundbreaking work…”


Voices of the new generation: open science is good for science (and for you) | Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology

Sanjana, N.E. Voices of the new generation: open science is good for science (and for you). Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-021-00414-1


In the race to publish papers and secure funding, science can sometimes seem like a competition. But, in reality, modern science relies on open sharing and collaboration. One unexpected aspect of open science is the role it has played in uplifting the careers of myself and my lab members.

‘Open’ relationships: reflections on the role of the journal in the contemporary scholarly publishing landscape

“While many members of the CPH Editorial Board are supportive of the concept of open access, they are also concerned about the APC model of open access on offer. These concerns will be familiar to many of our authors and readers….

As stated succinctly by one Editorial Board member, the proposed APC model goes against the entire spirit of the journal….

For many, although strongly concerned about issues of access to the journal, the adoption of an APC-based approach risks compounding existing inequalities. Radical Community Medicine’s origins were in the need for a space to challenge public health orthodoxies, shifting the centre and breaking new ground (Scott-Samuel, 1998), a mandate continued by CPH (Bell & Green, 2015; Bunton, 1998). Critical scholars working from the epistemic margins – early career researchers, independent researchers, and social scientists within public health programmes – are most vulnerable to exclusion if funds are needed to publish. Moreover, despite Taylor & Francis’s promises of ad hoc fee waivers, it will clearly serve to reinforce centre-periphery dynamics in scholarly knowledge production, compounding the exclusion already experienced by scholars outside the global north (see Herb & Schöpfel, 2018). These systematic exclusionary practices would sit uneasily, to say the least, with our mission.

Corporate publishers have been highly successful in conflating ‘gold’ open access (a broad category describing open access delivered directly by journals versus repositories) with APC-based models (Fuchs & Sandoval, 2013). However, other versions of ‘gold’ open access exist, including what is now known as ‘diamond’ access – where the publication is free to the end user and there are no charges for the submitting author….

The difference is that these models are driven primarily by a cost-covering rather than a profit-generating approach to scholarly publishing….

Collectively, we need to decide what journals are for – and how fidelity to our communities can be protected….”

Recording: boOkmarks session with Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra about a DARIAH bursary for ERCs (23.03.2021) @ YouTube

The OABN’s boOkmArks session with Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra talking about the newly-established DARIAH bursary for OA monographs for Early Career Researchers in Digital Humanities.

Read the blog post: https://openaccessbooksnetwork.hcommons.org/2021/03/17/adding-a-digital-humanities-bit-to-the-oa-book-funding-landscape-dariah-is-launching-an-annual-oa-monograph-bursary-for-early-career-researchers-in-digital-humanities/

We moeten af van telzucht in de wetenschap – ScienceGuide

From Google’s English:  “On July 19, ScienceGuide published an open letter from 171 academics who are concerned about the new Recognition and Valuation of scientists. In fact, the signatories warn that the new ‘Recognize and Appreciate’ leads to more arbitrariness and loss of quality. This will jeopardize the international top position of Dutch science, argue the writers, which will adversely affect young academics in particular.  …

It is noticeable that these young scientists, whom the letter speaks of, do not seem to be involved in drafting the message. It is also striking that signatories to the open letter themselves are mainly at the top of the academic career ladder; 142 of the 171 signatories are even professors. As Young Science in Transition, PhD candidates Network Netherlands, PostDocNL, a large number of members of De Jonge Akademies and many other young researchers, we do not agree with the message they are proclaiming. In fact, we worry about these kinds of noises when it comes to our current and future careers. Young academics are eagerly waiting for a new system of Recognition and Appreciation. …”

Why the new Recognition & Rewards actually boosts excellent science

“During the last few weeks, several opinion pieces have appeared questioning the new Recognition and Rewards (R&R) and Open Science in Dutch academia. On July 13, the TU/e Cursor published interviews with professors who question the usefulness of a new vision on R&R (1). A day later, on July 14, the chairman of the board of NWO compared science to top sport, with an emphasis on sacrifice and top performance (2), a line of thinking that fits the traditional way of R&R in academia. On July 19, an opinion piece was published by 171 university (head) teachers and professors (3), this time in ScienceGuide questioning again the new vision of R&R. These articles, all published within a week, show that as the new R&R gains traction within universities, established scholars are questioning its usefulness and effectiveness. Like others before us (4), we would like to respond. …”

White Paper · Quartz OA

“We are excited to share with you our vision for a more fair and sustainable future for independent open access publishing. In our white paper, we describe our learnings about the challenges of Open Access publishing and propose a new, cooperative, route to OA: Quartz Open Access….

We did our research and found the answers to our questions in many discussions and research pieces produced by our fellow academics as well as journalists. As we researched our way through the intricacies of the scholarly communication ecosystem, we became avid supporters of the open science movement and open access publishing. We also found that open access is not the same experience for everyone and some of the questions we asked above are more relevant for early-career researchers, those in the humanities and social sciences and those coming from less well-funded institutions as well as low- and lower-middle-income countries. We became increasingly aware of the existence of unintended consequences of the various OA policies resulting in increasing inequalities or perpetuating the same systems that have led to creating these inequalities in the first place. Independently, we came up with similar ideas to address these issues and then came together as a team to try and develop a solution to some of the barriers hampering the transition towards just, fair and sustainable open access publishing.

As newcomers, we looked into the different successful – and less so – initiatives, we explored the values associated with scholarly communication and academic research, we dug into the related publishing fields and found inspiration in some of the business models now applied in journalism and creative industries. We explored new technologies such as peer-to-peer networks and blockchain to see how these can help solve some of the problems in the transition towards open access academic publishing. We also drew inspiration from the proposed solutions to the crisis of accountability in big tech and the responsible innovation and value-sensitive design approaches to developing technological systems.

Our proposal to face these challenges is powered by three key components: 1) a platform cooperative allowing exchanges within the OA ecosystem, 2) a browser extension allowing readers to support open access content and communities, and 3) a crowdfunding infrastructure for OA….”

Students Among the Most Avid Readers of Open Access Journal Articles – NordMedia Network

Open access publishing is on the increase, but who are the readers of these scientific journals that are openly available?


A new article written by Finnish and Swedish researchers inquired into the readership of Finnish open access journals. Among 668 survey participants, the two largest groups were students (40%) and researchers (36%).