Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?


Featuring a novel solution to prevent the spread of disreputable science, top tips on publication planning in small companies and editorial perspectives on the latest Plan S news.

Fighting citation pollution via The Scholarly Kitchen

Fraudulent work is polluting mainstream scientific publishing – aided by authors unknowingly citing work from predatory journals. Once listed on PubMed, papers published in predatory journals are almost indistinguishable from work published in reputable journals. To avoid citing predatory work, authors and editors must keep track of all predatory journals – a challenging and time-consuming task, given the sheer volume of fraudulent journals; for example, there are over 10 000 predatory journals on Cabell’s blacklist.

This week, The Scholarly Kitchen proposed a novel solution to this issue, a ‘meta journal look-up service’ that will check the legitimacy of journals cited in a manuscript. The proposed system would ideally be integrated into each publisher’s production system. Upon manuscript submission, the system would check each journal appearing in the citation list against journal ‘whitelists’, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, Web of Science and Scopus, and blacklists, such as Cabell’s. If a cited journal is flagged as potentially fraudulent, the author would be automatically notified and would be required to justify the citation to the journal editor. In approaching this Herculean task, the authors have aptly named the idea for the system after the many-headed monster in Greek mythology ‘HYDRA’, which stands for High-frequencY Fraud Detection Reference Application.

Publication planning in small companies via The MAP Newsletter

Delivering a successful publication plan can be challenging at the best of times, let alone in the context of an early-stage or small company, in which resources and support may be scarce. This week in The MAP newsletter, Betsy Kitchens offers advice to publication leads on how to make a big impact in a small company:

  • First, publication leads are warned not to assume that everyone involved in their company will necessarily understand the value of the publication leads role. Recognize that your colleagues may not have worked with publications professionals before and, therefore, be prepared to demonstrate the need for compliance processes and to educate them on industry best practices, such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and Good Publication Practice 3 guidelines.
  • Next, develop a publication process and build a cross-functional publications team, made up of individuals from medical communications, medical affairs, clinical development, medical science liaison, biostatistics/data science, and research and development. Ask for input from your team at each stage of the publication process.
  • Once you have your team in place, determine the resource available to deliver the publication, including internal medical writers, a medical communications agency and graphic designers.
  • As the value of your publication management role becomes clear across the company, position yourself to expand your influence. Offer support in publication development for other departments and attend data-sharing meetings across the company. Communicate your publication strategy by hosting annual or biannual meetings with cross-functional colleagues.
  • Finally, stay connected with your wider network of publications professionals and leverage knowledge from The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), The International Publication Planning Meeting, Medical Affairs Professional Society and The Publication Plan. ISMPP member Donna Simcoe hosts a monthly call to discuss the challenges faced by publications professionals at small companies.

Plan S version 2: the right approach to full open access? via The Publication Plan

In May 2019, cOAlition S issued revised guidance on Plan S. Along with information on the 1-year delay in the implementation of Plan S, several other changes were announced, including a shift in focus to transparency around publishing costs, rather than a cap on the cost of publishing.

Speaking to The Scholarly Kitchen, Bernd Pulverer, Editor in Chief of the European Molecular Biology Organization journal, emphasized the need for Plan S to take a wider perspective to move open science, rather than just open access, forward.

Bernd has also argued for the need to preserve selectivity in any new model of scholarly dissemination to maintain a high quality of scientific research. He expresses his concern that the use of a ‘one-size-fits-all cost cap’ may compromise the quality of open access journals and, at the same time, support less selective journals.

Plan S could also be used to provide new metrics to assess journals, including acceptance rates, open science services (preprint posting and data deposition) and progressive editorial policies, such as open/transparent peer review and data/preprint citations. Such metrics could be used to set per-article processing costs related to the quality of the journal.