Implementing open science in East Africa is picking up speed

“Stakeholders, including academics, researchers and policy-makers in Tanzania, intend to adopt open science and present the plan to the government and implementation partners for funding. However, the decision to make research more accessible means they also have to deal with several challenges.

The East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Public Library of Science (PLOS), and Training Centre in Communication Africa hosted a High-Level Multi-Sectoral National Open Science Dialogue for Academic and Research Institutions in Tanzania in mid-February 2023 to discuss the matter – three years after the initial decision to enter into a partnership that would promote open-science principles in the region….”

PLOS Biology at 20: Ain’t no mountain high enough | PLOS Biology

“Although our work is not finished, the progress of the past two decades has been nothing short of remarkable. When PLOS launched in 2000, Harold Varmus, Michael Eisen and Patrick Brown called for articles to be made freely available 6 months after publication —an idea so radical that it failed to gain traction, prompting PLOS to become a publisher to demonstrate what was possible. Now, major funders across the world, such as the signatories of Plan S and the US Office of Science and Technology, request immediate open access (OA) publication for the research that they fund. In 2003, when PLOS Biology appeared on the scene, only a handful of life science journals were OA. The picture is dramatically different now: the Directory of Open Access Journals lists 18,881 journals and >8.5 million articles (up from 1.5 million 10 years ago [2]), and in 2020 more articles were published OA than behind paywalls for the first time, according to data from the Dimensions database. We are proud of our role in starting the ripple effect that has led to this unstoppable wave….”

Old tricks in new wineskins | Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

“It’s been a while since we checked in on our old friends Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley — collectively, the big legacy publishers who still dominate scholarly publishing. Like every publisher, they have realised which way the wind is blowing, and flipped their rhetoric to pro-open access — a far cry from the days when they were hiring PR “pit bulls” to smear open access.

These days, it’s clear that open access is winning. In fact, I’ll go further: open access has won and now we’re just mopping up the remaining pockets of resistance. We’ve had our D-Day. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still lots of work to get through before we arrive at our VE-Day, but it’s coming. And the legacy publishers, having recognised that the old journal-subscriptions gravy train is coasting to a halt, are keen to get big slices of the OA pie.

Does this change in strategy reflect a change of heart in these organization?

Reader, it does not.

Just in the last few days, these three stories have come up:

Elsevier has raised the price of access to its chemical database Reaxys from £13,500 per institution to £38,000: an increase of 181% in four years, or 29.5% per year cumulative. UK universities are quite rightly considering not renewing their subscription.
Springer has started demanding colour charges for online-only papers, as though “colour pixels cost more money” — this despite the Springer website saying that no such charges should be levied. Swansea University Library Research Support is quite rightly telling researchers to push back on these unacceptable charges — but they shouldn’t have to.
Most egregiously, Wiley suddenly removed 1,380 textbooks from one of its bundles, leaving at least one professor “to reorganize her entire syllabus to prevent her students from having to pay out of pocket for their required class textbook”. Others of course will quite understandably not bother, leaving students hundreds of dollars out of pocket….”

‘A Historic Moment’: New Guidance Requires Federally Funded Research to Be Open Access

“In a move hailed by open-access advocates, the White House on Thursday released guidance dictating that federally funded research be made freely and immediately available to the public. The Office of Science and Technology Policy’s guidance calls for federal agencies to make taxpayer-supported research publicly available immediately, doing away with an optional 12-month embargo. It also requires the data underlying that research to be published. Federal agencies have until December 31, 2025, to institute the guidance….”

OA Switchboard 2022 mid-year review: Collaboration drives growth and progress

“We’re happy to report on the huge amount of progress made so far as we reflect on how things are looking halfway through the second year of our 2021-2022 launch phase.


Our blog post OA Switchboard one year live: Community, collaboration, and delivering on the promise of PIDs detailed our achievements in 2021, the lessons learned from the first year of our launch phase and considered what is next on our agenda.

As we celebrated being fully operational for one year, we also proudly shared our end of year statistics: 84,377 messages were sent by participating publishers to research funders and institutions/consortia via the OA Switchboard (‘messages’ = standardised sets of publication-level metadata)….”

Accelerating Open Science Together; Center for Open Science Impact Reports

“Amid continuing global challenges due to the pandemic, 2021 was another noteworthy year not only for COS, but for the broader research community. The theme, “Accelerating Open Science” is based on our observations of an accelerating shift toward openness-as-default. This shift is being driven by the collective, collaborative actions of researchers and stakeholders committed to providing research progress. The full Impact Report highlights our achievements, our relationships, and our community support, and we hope you’ll take the time to review it. Thank you for your individual and collective actions to change the default to open so that the scientific ideals are manifest and rewarded in everyday practice.”

Plan S founder: ‘long way to go’ to achieve initiative’s aims – Research Professional News

“There is “still a long way to go” before the open-access initiative Plan S achieves its aims, even though it has already “rocked the world of scientific publishing off its feet”, according to its founder….

Under Plan S, a group of mainly European research funders is requiring papers reporting work they have funded to be made openly available immediately and under certain conditions, such as that authors must retain the rights over their work.

The plan was developed in 2018 by Smits, a former European Commission director-general of research and now president of the executive board of Eindhoven University of Technology, in his final year at the EU institution as its open-access envoy.

In the book, co-written with journalist Rachael Pells, Smits describes a “frustrating” meeting with representatives of major academic publishers early in his envoy role, where he was tasked with developing a plan to speed up the transition to open access. “I’d thought, perhaps naively, that there would be a willingness to really work together,” he says, adding that as he listened to the reaction from publishers, he realised his job was “not going to be as easy as I’d hoped”.

Elsewhere in the book, Robert Kiley, head of strategy for Plan S and a former head of open research at the Wellcome Trust—which is among the funders implementing Plan S—says that academics “don’t need journals” any more now that they have the internet.


Kiley says that academia should move entirely to the model being pioneered by funders and institutions including Wellcome and the EU: publication on online platforms of preprints ahead of peer review, followed by open peer review and rounds of improvements….”

France: Top institutions start uploading missing clinical trial results

“Several leading French clinical trial sponsors are now uploading missing results onto the European trial registry. France is finally starting to catch up with other European countries in terms of clinical trial transparency.



Eight major French non-profit research institutions uploaded 27 additional results for drug trials between February and November 2021. …”

What has Royal Society Open Science achieved in its first few years? | Royal Society Open Science

Abstract:  It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve as the first Editor-in-Chief of Royal Society Open Science for the past 6 years. I step down at the end of December 2021, having completed two 3-year terms, and am taking the opportunity here to reflect on some of the successes and challenges that the journal has experienced and the innovations that we have introduced. When I was first approached back in 2015, the breadth of the journal, covering the whole of science, resonated with my own interests: my research career has ranged across the entire landscape of chemistry, while my leadership roles have embraced all of science, technology and medicine. The open access ethos, the objective refereeing policy that rejects the idea of only publishing what is in fashion, and the opportunities offered by a new venture that could transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries also all appealed to me. Among our successful innovations are Registered Reports, Replication Studies and the new ‘Science, Society and Policy’ section. The challenges have included the transition to paid article processing charges (APCs), whether to resist pressure to retract a controversial paper, and bullying of young female authors by established senior males in the same field. I explore all of these below, provide some statistics on the journal’s performance, also cover some of the notable papers we have published, and provide some concluding thoughts.


Report finds over 80% of Horizon 2020 papers are open access

“When Horizon 2020 launched, researchers were required to publish any EU-funded results in open access publications.

Open access publication is a relatively new condition of receiving EU-funding. When asked about the purpose of an open access ecosystem, the European Commission said that “publications should be judged on their intrinsic value” and that it would “lead by example in operationalising open science.”

In the last four years, scientific papers have been published at a success rate of 83%.

In 2014, just over 65% of peer-reviewed Horizon 2020 publications were open access. In the space of five years, this percentage rose to 86% in 2019. As part of receiving funding, scientists are required to publish their work in an open access format atleast six or 12 months after initial publication.

However, this report also found some room for improvement in how much work and data is functionally accessible. It is a long-form study, combining meaningful qualitative and quantitative data, which focuses on how those open access percentages can progress….”

EOSC activities update and UK engagement – Research

“The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is a European Commission (EC) initiative to support the development of open science and the digital transformation of research in Europe and further afield. Now in its implementation phase, it aims to develop a “web” of FAIR data and services, providing a multi-disciplinary environment where researchers can publish, find and re-use data, tools and services. The EOSC is complementary to UK efforts to define and adopt open science policies and practices, and the UK contributes to development of the EOSC through participation in implementation projects and in the EOSC Association, a legal entity established to govern the European Open Science Cloud.

As part of its Tech 2 Tech series, Jisc held an EOSC webinar in March 2021 which helped to confirm strong interest in the EOSC across the UK research community. Another Jisc webinar about EOSC will be held on 15 December. This blog provides an update on the numerous activities which have been taking place as part of the ongoing development of the EOSC, and UK engagement with them….

Press release: COVID-19 research freely accessible, but research data sharing and preprinting are low – OASPA

“Levels of COVID-19 research data sharing have remained low during the pandemic, and preprinting of research on the virus has been lower than two initiatives tried to ensure it would be. This is according to a new report that examines the effectiveness of initiatives taken by players in the research ecosystem to promote sharing of COVID-19 research by stepping up open science approaches.

While the efforts of scientific publishers and the research community have speeded up publication times for COVID-19 research, and made much of it freely accessible, more effort is needed if society is to truly benefit from open science, the Scholarly Communication in Times of Crisis: The response of the scholarly communication system to the COVID-19 pandemic report says.

The sharing of the SARS-CoV-2 genome is seen as the poster child for open science, and the pandemic held up as a turning point for open science. Yet the report finds this has only partly been realised. It makes a series of key recommendations, three of which focus on opening up data, encouraging preprinting and strengthening collaboration across the scholarly communication ecosystem:

Only joint efforts will improve the availability and quality of research data sharing. Common data policy templates should be developed to require data sets and software to be posted to a trusted, FAIR-enabling repository, and to require formal citations to data sets and software.
Mandating preprinting and rewarding researchers who use preprints could shift the needle.  Publishers should include posting of preprints in their submission workflows and leaders should advocate for preprints.
Publishers and other scholarly communication organisations should intensify their joint efforts to improve the availability and quality of data and metadata on scholarly publishing, allowing for robust evidence-informed approaches to innovation in scholarly communication….”