Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Adeline Rosenberg

Featuring the new cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy, an analysis of institutional open access output, subjectivity in peer review reports, insights on opening up science to the public, appeals against Clarivate’s blacklist decision and concerns of questionable editorial practices.

The new Rights Retention Strategy via cOAlition S

To ensure the compliance of exclusive publishing agreements and embargo periods with the Plan S principles, cOAlition S has developed a Rights Retention Strategy. The strategy will enable authors who are funded by grants from cOAlition S organizations and who are submitting to subscription journals to make their manuscripts openly available in repositories under a CC BY licence. Additionally, cOAlition S is liaising with subscription publishers to ensure that policies are in agreement with the new strategy.

Robinson-Garcia et al. 2020: institutional uptake of open access via Peer J Life & Environment

This global analysis of open access indicators of 4 621 721 publications from 963 higher education institutions profiles these institutions by their open access output using data from Web of Science, Unpaywall and Leiden Ranking. UK institutions are leading the way in terms of the overall proportion of open access publications, with a median of 74% of research articles being published open access. Although current metrics tend to focus on excellence, Robinson-Garcia et al. suggest that new metrics measuring research openness and transparency will be better indicators for an open science framework.

Peer review – is the process arbitrary? via The Publication Plan

Brezis and Birukou, 2020 think so. These authors developed a mathematical model to assess the true value of a research article based on its scientific soundness, contribution and innovation. They then determined how this related to (1) the degree of homophily between a peer reviewer and research article and (2) the amount of time allocated for a review. Overall, the relationship between a paper’s true value and peer review ratings was not consistent, owing to the subjectivity introduced by reviewer bias; this is in accordance with previous findings from the Neural Information Processing Systems experiment and the National Institutes of Health study of grant application reviewers.

Insights on openness via EuroScientist

This think piece on the value and function of open science examines some of the insights and perspectives on the benefits of opening science up to the public. With examples ranging from Professor Corrine Le Quéré (Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia) speaking on the BBC’s The Life Scientific, to the European Commission’s work programme on Science with and for Society, to King’s College London’s crowdsourced COVID-19 Symptom Study app, this article demonstrates that the wider concepts of open science and public involvement in research are not only a benefit to researchers but also a responsibility that the scientific community owes to the public.

Dazed and confused: appealing to Clarivate via Retraction Watch

The journals Body Image, the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology and Zootaxa are pushing back against Clarivate’s criticisms and decision to suppress the journals following an “editorial expression of concern”. The for-profit company behind the Impact Factor has blacklisted these journals for excessive self-citation. However, as appeal letters from the journal editors (here and here) point out, self-citation rates naturally fluctuate, and the percentages of self-citations in the context of absolute numbers are far less alarming.

When journals benefit the editor via University World News

Here, Dr Yves Gingras (Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal) and Dr Mahdi Khelfaoui (Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Ottawa and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) explore the bibliometric rabbit holes of the El Naschie case and the Raoult case. Respectively, the journals New Microbes and New Infections and Chaos, Solitons & Fractals featured a large volume of content from the same circles of researchers, some of whom were also members of the journals’ respective editorial boards. In light of these concerns, the authors share their tips for spotting questionable publication dynamics and bibliometrics.

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