Editors’ Picks 2019

As the end of the year draws in, PLOS ONE Staff Editors put together a list of some their favourite papers from 2019. Behavioral and Social Sciences, Neuroscience, Mental Health In an archaeological investigation, Ehud

Is overlay peer review the future of scholarly communications? – COAR

“You may have seen the paper published recently by COAR presenting a distributed framework for open publishing services called Pubfair (version 2, after community input), also available in Spanish.

Pubfair is a conceptual model for a modular, distributed open source publishing framework, which builds on the content contained in the network of repositories to enable the dissemination and quality-control of a range of research outputs including publications, data, and more. 

This idea is not new. It is based on the vision outlined in the COAR Next Generation Repositories report  and builds on earlier conceptual models developed by Paul Ginsparg, Herbert Van de Sompel and others. And there are already overlay journals on arXiv, such as Discrete Analysis and Advances in Combinatorics, and other platforms such as Episcience in France, that demonstrate that this can be done at a very high level of quality, for a low price.

We are proposing to expand on these initiatives by developing a highly distributed architecture for overlay services. With decentralization, comes tremendous power. It takes us beyond an environment with many silos, in which every organization maintains its own separate system; to a global, interoperable architecture for scholarly communication. This model can scale; respond to different needs and priorities related to language, region, and domain; and has the potential to set free scholarly communications….”

Open forensic science* | Journal of Law and the Biosciences | Oxford Academic

Abstract:  The mainstream sciences are experiencing a revolution of methodology. This revolution was inspired, in part, by the realization that a surprising number of findings in the bioscientific literature could not be replicated or reproduced by independent laboratories. In response, scientific norms and practices are rapidly moving towards openness. These reforms promise many enhancements to the scientific process, notably improved efficiency and reliability of findings. Changes are also underway in the forensic. After years of legal-scientific criticism and several reports from peak scientific bodies, efforts are underway to establish the validity of several forensic practices and ensure forensic scientists perform and present their work in a scientifically valid way.

In this article, the authors suggest that open science reforms are distinctively suited to addressing the problems faced by forensic science. Openness comports with legal and criminal justice values, helping ensure expert forensic evidence is more reliable and susceptible to rational evaluation by the trier of fact. In short, open forensic science allows parties in legal proceedings to understand and assess the strength of the case against them, resulting in fairer outcomes. Moreover, several emerging open science initiatives allow for speedier and more collaborative research.

Editorial: Preregistration and Open Science Practices in Hearing Science and Audiology The Time Has Come

“With this issue, Ear and Hearing annoujnces its decision to offer and promoge the use of open science practices (Pre-registration, Open Data, and Open Materials) in an effort to document and increase scientific rigor and transparency in our field.”

Heroes of the 2010s: Wikipedia – Mother Jones

“It got better as the internet got worse….

This was the decade we learned to hate the internet, to decry its impact on our brains and society and to detest the amoral organizations that dominate it. Facebook steals our data and abets Trump’s lies. Amazon is a brick-and-mortar–crushing behemoth, like the Death Star but successful. Instagram is for narcissists. Reddit is for racists and incels. Twitter verifies Nazis. Amid this horror show, there is Wikipedia, criminally under-appreciated, a nonprofit compendium of human knowledge maintained by everyone. There is no more useful website. It is browsable and rewards curiosity without stealing your preferences and selling them to marketers. It is relaxing to read. …”

EU High Court Rules Against Digital Resale; We’ll Talk About This at the Conference | Copyright and Technology

“This week the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a landmark ruling that digitally downloaded files are not subject to exhaustion (the EU equivalent of first sale in U.S. law). This means that consumers don’t have the right to resell (or give away, lend, or rent) ebooks and other digital files. This ruling brings EU law into line with the U.S. precedent established by the Second Circuit Appeals Court in the ReDigi case a year ago….”

v31#5 Optimizing Library Services — Institutional Repositories and Knowledge Curation: Revisiting Knowledge Conversion in the Academic Environment – Against the Grain

“Institutional repositories are vital to knowledge curation in the digital environment, and the discussion of knowledge conversion has presented a systematic view of the roles IRs have in creating and sharing knowledge through digital technology.  Knowledge conversion is a knowledge curation process allowing researchers, teaching faculty, administrators, staff, donors (of special collections and archival records), interviewees (in oral histories), cultural informants (in ethnography and folklore) to share data, information, and knowledge with a wider audience in a variety of ways known to academics and practitioners in the business community and various industries.  There is, however, a vast epistemological ground in the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, ethnography) and the humanities (e.g., philosophy, history) where knowledge creation does not rely on curation technologies (such as IRs). In fact, authors may decide to curate their own works in their institutional repositories well after publishing in a formal venue such as a journal, conference proceeding, or book chapter. The use of the IR represents interests related to historical reflection and preservation, which is where finalized reports and data are available for viewing and further study.  Knowledge curation through the IR further supports collaboration across organizational units that have relied for very long on data silos and departmental databases.”

International observatory targets predatory publishers | Times Higher Education (THE)

“A coalition of scientists, funders, publishing societies and librarians believes that the formation of an international observatory to study predatory journals will lead to improved advice on how to tackle them.

The initiative aims to fill the void left by the closure three years ago of Jeffrey Beall’s blacklist of predatory publishers. Since then, many others have set up their own blacklists and checklists, but there is “a lack of unity across the community about what predatory journals are”, said Agnes Grudniewicz, assistant professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

The coalition’s biggest achievement so far is to create a consensus definition of predatory journals. It defines predatory journals and publishers as “entities that prioritise self-interest at the expense of scholarship” and “are characterised by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggregate and indiscriminate solicitation practices”….

Creating an international observatory – potentially funded by research funders, charities, publishers and research institutions – was a less contentious solution than relying on blacklists or “whitelists” of approved providers, said Dr Grudniewicz. Research led by Michaela Strinzel, from the Swiss National Science Foundation, found that 34 journals listed as predatory by Professor Beall appeared on an approved list of titles run by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), while 31 DOAJ titles were deemed predatory by subscription service Cabells….”

Is Medical Education Ready for Universal Open Access to Research? | Journal of Graduate Medical Education

“At the current rate of growth, aided by public access policies of the National Institutes of Health and other funders, as well as publishers’ growing open access options, we can reasonably expect that by 2030, readers will have universal public access to most biomedical research literature. This includes the medical education research of interest to readers of JGME. This exciting development is part of a larger open access movement in scholarly publishing that reflects a growing recognition that research and scholarship is better served by freely sharing this work, in ways that were not possible in the age of print. Given its value to science, open access is now attracting the institutional support needed to make it sustainable. At this point, close to half of current research across all disciplines of science is being made open by various means, whether by publication in open access journals, authors posting their final drafts (with publishers’ permission), or articles becoming open access after an embargo period.1 While there are competing models for how universal access will be achieved,2 amid sometimes bumpy negotiations between publishers and libraries,3 none of the stakeholders disagree over the contribution of open access to the advancement of science….

As teachers and educational researchers, our contribution to such considerations has been to study the points and basis of access for physicians and the public. For example, would physicians have the time and interest to access biomedical literature if it was fully open access? In one study, 336 physicians were provided free access to the literature through Stanford University libraries for a year.4 While two-thirds of the participants did not access a research article over that year (with some attributing this to a lack of reminders or promotion of the service), one-third viewed 1 article a week, on average, for purposes that ranged from assisting with clinical care to educating fellow physicians. Some reported withdrawal symptoms when the access ended; others informed us of how, prior to this study, they had been deterred from consulting research by encountering a paywall. The results suggested that physicians need to be informed of their growing access to research, and guidance on how to skillfully and effectively use this access should be added to their training. Building expectations of access to this work will support its realization, while providing guidance on its use will result in better medical education and better informed medical practices….”

Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work – The New York Times

“In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus….”

Researchers appearing in Google Knowledge Graph/panel – drawing data from Google Scholar profiles. | Musings about librarianship

“My first thought was Google is now feeding all entries from Google Scholar profiles into Google Knowledge Graphs! But testing with various accounts showed that while having a Google Scholar profile was a necessary condition for such entries to appear, it wasn’t a sufficient condition.


As of now, I can’t see any logic on why some people with Google Scholar profiles are promoted and others are not. It probably isn’t based on H-index or total citations in Google Scholar profiles since there are so many researcher profiles with high counts in Google Scholar that aren’t appearing in Google. 


Another mystery was how did Google know what my Facebook and Twitter accounts were? Given I have a fairly complete Google account, they have gotten it from there, or has others have suggested it is because I have Wikidata entry but I doubt it since in Wikidata I use my full legal name. (Sidenote the notability standards of Wikidata is lower than Wikipedia.)


Also playing around with other names, I noticed researchers who have their H-index and citations (from Google Scholar profile) listed as well as more social media profiles such as Linkedin, Youtube listed….”

Potential White House open-access edict could upend scientific publishers

“The White House is considering issuing an executive order that would mandate immediate free access to all published federally funded research, with no embargo period, according to administration and scientific publishing officials.

At least two rounds of interagency reviews of the proposed executive order have occurred, according to an administration source, but there has been no word on when or whether the order will be issued. The review process is being coordinated by the White House staff secretary, says the source, rather than the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which has previously led the formulation of open-access policy….”

Écrits scientifiques: la fin du racket pour nos universités ? – La Libre

“Each year, the universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation spend around fifteen million euros to subscribe to scientific publications. Their contract with Elsevier, one of the world’s heavyweights in the sector, which gives them access to more than 2,000 scientific journals, ends on December 31. This is an opportunity to put things back on track. A group of university experts was therefore mandated by Cref (the Council of Rectors of French-speaking universities) and BICfB (the Interuniversity Library of the French Community of Belgium) to negotiate the follow-up. According to our information, the discussions promise to be long….”

Publishing Companies Are Mad That The U.S. President Might Want To Make Federally-Funded Research Open Access | Gizmodo Australia

“Scientific societies and publishers are angry about a rumour that a White House executive order might make all federally-funded research open access.

If the rumours turn out to be true, the Trump administration would expand a program introduced by the Obama administration in 2013 that made federally-funded research available in the U.S. a year after publication. The rumoured Trump order would make federally-funded research immediately available as open access. It would be a win for the open access movement—and a loss for those who make money by putting walls up in front of federally-funded research….”