How can open science help achieve sustainability? | Research Information

“A focused, strategic and global approach to addressing the causes of climate change could pull us back from the precipice upon which we stand. But what does this have to do with research publishing? Of course publishers are part of a global network that reviews, improves, disseminates and ensures access to critical research that is providing the evidence-base about climate change – and, crucially – mitigation of its impact. However we believe that scholarly publishing, as a sector, has a wider role to play. Our impact is not just through publication of climate research, not just through our environmental consciousness as businesses, but also through driving open research. But why is open science critical if we are to collectively address climate change or support other sustainable development goals? 

The last 18 months has provided a perfect case study of why open science and open research matters. As Covid-19 took hold around the globe, it underscored how interconnected the world is and provided many examples of the vital role that open science could play in speeding up the response and improving outcomes. If rapidly and openly sharing research data and papers is critical to understanding and combating coronavirus, doesn’t the same hold true for climate and environmental concerns? Or other health issues such as cancer, heart disease, maternal and child mortality? 

The short answer is yes. But we have a long way to go. The past 18 months has shown the positive impact that open science can have in tackling the sorts of global issues that require collaborative, multi-disciplinary solutions. However it has also thrown into stark relief the gaps and challenges that hinder the full realisation of the potential of open research to help address societal challenges. The lack of integrated policy, if not tackled, will limit the social impact of open research, particularly with respect to the sustainable development goals (SDGs). …”

Equitable data sharing in epidemics and pandemics | BMC Medical Ethics | Full Text

Abstract:  Background

Rapid data sharing can maximize the utility of data. In epidemics and pandemics like Zika, Ebola, and COVID-19, the case for such practices seems especially urgent and warranted. Yet rapidly sharing data widely has previously generated significant concerns related to equity. The continued lack of understanding and guidance on equitable data sharing raises the following questions: Should data sharing in epidemics and pandemics primarily advance utility, or should it advance equity as well? If so, what norms comprise equitable data sharing in epidemics and pandemics? Do these norms address the equity-related concerns raised by researchers, data providers, and other stakeholders? What tensions must be balanced between equity and other values?


To explore these questions, we undertook a systematic scoping review of the literature on data sharing in epidemics and pandemics and thematically analyzed identified literature for its discussion of ethical values, norms, concerns, and tensions, with a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on equity. We wanted to both understand how equity in data sharing is being conceptualized and draw out other important values and norms for data sharing in epidemics and pandemics.


We found that values of utility, equity, solidarity, and reciprocity were described, and we report their associated norms, including researcher recognition; rapid, real-time sharing; capacity development; and fair benefits to data generators, data providers, and source countries. The value of utility and its associated norms were discussed substantially more than others. Tensions between utility norms (e.g., rapid, real-time sharing) and equity norms (e.g., researcher recognition, equitable access) were raised.


This study found support for equity being advanced by data sharing in epidemics and pandemics. However, norms for equitable data sharing in epidemics and pandemics require further development, particularly in relation to power sharing and participatory approaches prioritizing inclusion. Addressing structural inequities in the wider global health landscape is also needed to achieve equitable data sharing in epidemics and pandemics.

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.”

An Open-Publishing Response to the COVID-19 Infodemic

Abstract:  The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed the rapid dissemination of papers and preprints investigating the disease and its associated virus, SARS-CoV-2. The multifaceted nature of COVID-19 demands a multidisciplinary approach, but the urgency of the crisis combined with the need for social distancing measures present unique challenges to collaborative science. We applied a massive online open publishing approach to this problem using Manubot. Through GitHub, collaborators summarized and critiqued COVID-19 literature, creating a review manuscript. Manubot automatically compiled citation information for referenced preprints, journal publications, websites, and clinical trials. Continuous integration workflows retrieved up-to-date data from online sources nightly, regenerating some of the manuscript’s figures and statistics. Manubot rendered the manuscript into PDF, HTML, LaTeX, and DOCX outputs, immediately updating the version available online upon the integration of new content. Through this effort, we organized over 50 scientists from a range of backgrounds who evaluated over 1,500 sources and developed seven literature reviews. While many efforts from the computational community have focused on mining COVID-19 literature, our project illustrates the power of open publishing to organize both technical and non-technical scientists to aggregate and disseminate information in response to an evolving crisis.


Risky business: COVAX and the financialization of global vaccine equity | Globalization and Health | Full Text

Abstract:  Background

During the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, COVAX has been the world’s most prominent effort to ensure equitable access to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Launched as part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (Act-A) in June 2020, COVAX suggested to serve as a vaccine buyers’ and distribution club for countries around the world. It also aimed to support the pharmaceutical industry in speeding up and broadening vaccine development. While COVAX has recently come under critique for failing to bring about global vaccine equity, influential politicians and public health advocates insist that future iterations of it will improve pandemic preparedness. So far COVAX’s role in the ongoing financialization of global health, i.e. in the rise of financial concepts, motives, practices and institutions has not been analyzed.


This article describes and critically assesses COVAX’s financial logics, i.e. the concepts, arguments and financing flows on which COVAX relies. It is based on a review of over 109 COVAX related reports, ten in-depth interviews with global health experts working either in or with COVAX, as well as participant observation in 18 webinars and online meetings concerned with global pandemic financing, between September 2020 and August 2021.


The article finds that COVAX expands the scale and scope of financial instruments in global health governance, and that this is done by conflating different understandings of risk. Specifically, COVAX conflates public health risk and corporate financial risk, leading it to privilege concerns of pharmaceutical companies over those of most participating countries – especially low and lower-middle income countries (LICs and LMICs). COVAX thus drives the financialization of global health and ends up constituting a risk itself – that of perpetuating the downsides of financialization (e.g. heightened inequality, secrecy, complexity in governance, an ineffective and slow use of aid), whilst insufficiently realising its potential benefits (pandemic risk reduction, increased public access to emergency funding, indirect price control over essential goods and services).


Future iterations of vaccine buyers’ and distribution clubs as well as public vaccine development efforts should work towards reducing all aspects of public health risk rather than privileging its corporate financial aspects. This will include reassessing the interplay of aid and corporate subsidies in global health.

CORONA Project Demonstrates Value of Sharing Knowledge to Save Lives – SPARC

“On Friday, March 13, 2020, much of the United States shut down with COVID-19 restrictions. Three days later, Dr. David Fajgenbaum launched an effort to track and publicly share what drugs were being tried to combat the disease.

The CORONA (Covid-19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents) Project has been a valued resource ever since, keeping an inventory – in real time – of the now more than 500 treatments that have been administered to COVID-19 patients. Fajgenbaum led a team that has reviewed thousands of journal articles to identify the drugs, determine which are most promising at various stages, and make it all available through an open-source data repository.


In the past 18 months, more than 30,000 unique users have viewed the database, including members of the general public and officials from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who have used the database to select drugs to test in clinical trials….”

How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science – Tablet Magazine

“Lack of communalism during the pandemic fueled scandals and conspiracy theories, which were then treated as fact in the name of science by much of the popular press and on social media. The retraction of a highly visible hydroxychloroquine paper from the The Lancet was a startling example: A lack of sharing and openness allowed a top medical journal to publish an article in which 671 hospitals allegedly contributed data that did not exist, and no one noticed this outright fabrication before publication. The New England Journal of Medicine, another top medical journal, managed to publish a similar paper; many scientists continue to heavily cite it long after its retraction….

However, if full public data-sharing cannot happen even for a question relevant to the deaths of millions and the suffering of billions, what hope is there for scientific transparency and a sharing culture? …”

Covid- 19 Influence on the Publishing Industry

“However, despite these and other issues, and although it’s been difficult for many communities and countries with large outbreaks, international collaborations flourished. Researchers began to share their data more openly, while almost all articles related to Covid-19 are free to read. Research culture also shifted. Instead of prioritizing productivity, broader issues such as work-life balance were discussed, possibly becoming a continuing trend even after the pandemic….

Similarly, UNESCO realizes the importance and value of Open Solutions; therefore, Open Access to scientific information and Open Data facilitate faster and better research. UNESCO builds upon its existing mandate of ensuring universal access to information to support various professional organizations with several data collection tools and encourages various initiatives to tap into the power of Open Solutions to combat Covid-19. To read about more initiatives and Open Access to Covid-19 data, read our data sharing and Covid-19 article….

Covid-19 has made open publishing relevant, as you can see. Pre-prints allow researchers to post studies that have not undergone scientific peer-review for more timely, open, and inclusive access to new science. This is great, in theory. Unfortunately, pre-prints of Covid-19 research can instead lead the general public and the media to believe that the work has been professionally vetted before publication, ultimately leading to misinformation. Therefore, there is an urgent need for rapid, transparent peer-review and a discussion on the harmful effects of unreviewed publishing. However, the field of academic publishing will require significant financial support to finalize these changes….”

WUR gives away CRISPR intellectual property licenses for free in fight against hunger – Reader Mode

“The ultimate aim of plant breeding has always been to make plants resistant to drought and diseases. That could help eliminate hunger around the world. This is no longer a distant thought, thanks to a technology called CRISPR-Cas. Today Wageningen University & Research (WUR) announces it will provide potential partners with free licenses to work on its patented CRISPR technology. The license must be applied to gene-editing of plants for non-profit applications….”

WUR gives away CRISPR intellectual property licenses for free in fight against hunger – Reader Mode

“The ultimate aim of plant breeding has always been to make plants resistant to drought and diseases. That could help eliminate hunger around the world. This is no longer a distant thought, thanks to a technology called CRISPR-Cas. Today Wageningen University & Research (WUR) announces it will provide potential partners with free licenses to work on its patented CRISPR technology. The license must be applied to gene-editing of plants for non-profit applications….”

Research data communication strategy at the time of pandemics: a retrospective analysis of the Italian experience | Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease

Abstract:  Coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the scientific world. During these difficult times, standard peer-review processes could be too long for the continuously evolving knowledge about this disease. We wanted to assess whether the use of other types of network could be a faster way to disseminate the knowledge about Coronavirus disease. We retrospectively analyzed the data flow among three distinct groups of networks during the first three months of the pandemic: PubMed, preprint repositories (biorXiv and arXiv) and social media in Italy (Facebook and Twitter). The results show a significant difference in the number of original research articles published by PubMed and preprint repositories. On social media, we observed an incredible number of physicians participating to the discussion, both on three distinct Italian-speaking Facebook groups and on Twitter. The standard scientific process of publishing articles (i.e., the peer-review process) remains the best way to get access to high-quality research. Nonetheless, this process may be too long during an emergency like a pandemic. The thoughtful use of other types of network, such as preprint repositories and social media, could be taken into consideration in order to improve the clinical management of COVID-19 patients.


Publishing during a crisis: ethics and lessons learnt from COVID-19

“The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world. For science and research, the pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on researchers and policy makers and is likely to influence the future of scientific research and scholarly communication.  What have we learned from our experience so far? Are the mechanisms in place to validate research optimized and are we bridging the gap between science, policy and citizens in the most effective way?

This Elsevier-organized INGSA satellite session is focused on the communication implications of publishing during a crisis and the need for real time information to inform public policy decisions. This session will be a lively panel discussion on the emerging lessons learnt from the pandemic that will include:

Pressures on the peer review system when faced with an unprecedented increase in submissions
Mechanism of knowledge transfer to inform policy decisions in real time
Burden on Editors to both identify key research in the fight against COVID 19 but to also act as guardians of quality
Acceleration of open science and importance of reproducibility with the emerging need for data disclosure
The role of publishers and science journalism in communicating research findings to citizens and increased blurred boundaries between preprints, accepted manuscripts, and peer reviewed articles
How will the future look in a new era where computing power, money, and access to raw data govern independent validation?…”

WHO starts data-sharing effort to prevent pandemics. Will nations cooperate? | South China Morning Post

“WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence opens in Berlin backed by initial US$100 million from Germany

It aims to pool global disease data, and produce tools to predict outbreaks – but is reliant on countries taking part.”

Opening doors to discovery: Partnerships are key to advancing open science

The evolution of scholarly communications has accelerated in recent years, and 2020 for obvious reasons put even more pressure on the sector to evolve and adapt. By opening up access to research publications, by simplifying or customising the digital experience, or by improving the speed of publishing – the focus is firmly placed on the need for publishers to work more in partnership with each other, with institutions, funders, and new players in the market to develop solutions that meet the evolving needs of researchers and the wider community. Partnerships between different actors in the research process address challenges in practice and help advance open science, publishing, and the research system as a whole.