Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring the Open Pharma and Pint of Science crossover event, a new pilot project to facilitate the transparent review of preprints and the results from a Nature poll on coercive citations.

Open Pharma meets Pint of Science via Pint of Science

Who are clinical trials for – doctors, pharma companies or patients? Open Pharma believes that clinical trials are for everyone and that findings should be transparent and made accessible in a timely manner. To celebrate Open Access Week 2019, Open Pharma has teamed up with Pint of Science in a pioneer event titled ‘Clinical trial transparency – let’s talk’, which will take place on Wednesday 23 October from 19:30 to 21:30 at St Aldates Tavern in Oxford.

The event features highlights from the COMPare study presented by Dr Henry Drysdale and an overview of the progress Open Pharma has made so far and of its future goals. After a quick break to refill any empty pint glasses, audience members will have the chance to direct any questions to our expert panel, namely Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Nick DeVito, Joe Adams, Georgia Richards and Open Pharma’s own Tim Koder.

Click here for more information and to secure your ticket!

Taking a TRiP towards transparent review of preprints via Cold Spring Harbour Laboratories

A number of platforms have begun to trial open peer reviews, with reviewers’ comments published alongside the final version of a research article. However, Cold Spring Harbour Laboratories have decided to take things one step further with their new pilot project – Transparent Review in Preprints (TRiP). This novel process, powered by the Hypothesis web annotation tool, enables participating journals and peer review services to post open reviews of articles submitted to the preprint server bioRxiv on dedicated Hypothesis groups. Readers will also continue to be able to post their own comments to articles hosted on bioRxiv. Journals eLife and EMBO Press, alongside independent peer review initiatives Peerage of Science and Review Commons, will be the first to participate in the pilot, with the aim of improving the transparency, objectivity and efficiency of peer review during the early stages of the publication process.

Are we seeing an increase in the number of coercive citations? via Nature

Last month, the weekly digest reported an investigation into possible cases of coercive citations, whereby some researchers use their positions as peer reviewers to increase the citation number of their own articles. This investigation, led by Elsevier, prompted Nature to conduct an online poll to gather responses to the question “Have you ever felt pressured by a peer reviewer to cite seemingly superfluous studies in your work?”. This week, Nature revealed that two-thirds of the 4300 researchers who responded to the poll felt pressured to include unnecessary references. Professor Eric Fong, who is a researcher at the University of Alabama, highlights that this kind of pressure can often be subtle and part of legitimate comments, and urges journal editors to take more responsibility for identifying such cases. However, Nature recognizes that the high number of researchers who have reported this experience could be related to certain limitations of the poll, one of which was that researchers were more likely to respond if they had been affected by coercive citations. It is also important to note that the poll did not specify whether the reviewers were asking authors to cite their own work or that of other studies.