Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Adeline Rosenberg

Featuring the questionable transparency of some COVID-19 data, retraction notices and clinical trial results, what COVID-19 has taught us about open access, a centralized archive of COVID-19 preprints, and how the pandemic may affect the public’s trust in science.

Data transparency amid COVID-19 journal retractions via the BMJ

The lessons learned from the British Medical Journal (BMJ)’s interrogation of the questionable data transparency surrounding the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in 2009 do not seem to have been applied to clinical research on COVID-19. Two recently retracted papers published in The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine used a third-party data analytics company (Surgisphere) that refused to comply with peer review requests for access to datasets, leading their authors to request a retraction. Both journals are signatories of the Wellcome Trust’s agreement on COVID-19 data sharing, but Dr Henry Drysdale (Clinical Researcher, Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab, University of Oxford) suggests that the drive to produce and disseminate COVID-19 research quickly could be compromising the integrity and transparency of the associated data.

Transparency around retraction notices via Nature

In light of the notable retractions mentioned above, Dr Quan-Hoang Vuong (Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Social Research, Phenikaa University) calls for retraction notices to be more consistent and informative. His previous analysis of over 2000 retraction notices, published in Learned Publishing, found that over half of the notices failed to disclose the initiator of the retraction, and nearly 10% omitted the reason for retraction.

30% of clinical trials are not transparent via TranspariMED

New data available on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Amendments Act Trials Tracker indicate that the results of approximately 30% of registered clinical trials are currently unreported on ClinicalTrials.gov, leaving over $10 billion in uncollected FDA fines.

What COVID-19 has taught us about open access via cOAlition S

From the acceleration of preprint publication services to the lifting of press embargoes and paywalls, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed scientific communication. Here, Professor Johan Rooryck (Professor of French linguistics, Leiden University, and Open Access Champion, cOAlition S) outlines how the global research community has responded to demands for open access and how the transition towards open access has been accelerated.

Collating COVID-19 preprints via Europe PMC

Most COVID-19 preprints are available as PDFs and are hosted across a range of preprint servers without the level of standardized and consistent access that enables machine learning and systematic searching. With the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation, the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, Europe PMC is collating and hosting an archive of COVID-19 preprints from across the repertoire of preprint servers, with the full texts available directly on its website to enable accessible searching and data extraction.

Public trust in science after a pandemic via Times Higher Education

How does a pandemic affect the public’s perception of science and the scientific community? A report in The London School of EconomicsSystemic Risk Centre discussion paper series found that the public’s level of trust in individual scientists declined following historical epidemics, but that the negative trend was not reflected in the public’s confidence in science. One of the report’s authors, Dr Cevat Giray Aksoy (Assistant Professor of Economics, King’s College London), suggests that failure to communicate science in an accessible manner may be driving this trend.

We at Open Pharma would like to continue to encourage all our readers to look after themselves and their community and continue to follow advice from their country’s government and health organizations.

Coronavirus mental health and wellbeing resources:

Mind UK

Mental Health Foundation UK

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention