Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Adeline Rosenberg

Featuring the ERC’s decision to split from Plan S, a report on the Open Pharma June 2020 virtual roundtable meeting in BMJ Opinion, solutions for improving transparency, the Data Ethics Canvas tool, Beck et al.’s recommendations for preprint server best practice, a concerning increase in citation rates for journals discontinued from the Scopus database and the CellPhoneDB cell atlas.

The ERC parts ways from Plan S via cOAlition S

Although the European Research Council (ERC) was instrumental in helping to draft Plan S in 2018, the ERC Scientific Council will now be proceeding independently of cOAlition S, owing to disagreements on how best to approach hybrid journals. Although the ERC has expressed concerns that labelling hybrid journals as non-compliant may be detrimental to researchers with limited funding, such as early career academics, cOAlition S says that maintaining the status quo on hybrid journals will only polarize inequalities between researchers.

Promoting open access publishing from pharmaceutical companies via BMJ Opinion

From Open Pharma’s own Steph Macdonald (Medical Writer at Oxford PharmaGenesis) and Richard Smith (former Editor of the BMJ), this opinion piece takes a deeper look at some of the insights and ideas that arose during the Open Pharma June 2020 virtual roundtable meeting. Overall, there is a clear need to improve transparency, discoverability, accessibility and accountability in pharmaceutical publishing to ensure the needs of all stakeholders in medical research are met and to optimize the real world impact of clinical data.

Improving transparency in Cochrane reviews via The Publication Plan

Cochrane reviews are renowned as the gold standard of systematic reviews, but founding member Hilda Bastian acknowledges that there is always room for improvement, particularly regarding transparency. Developed from the Cochrane Handbook and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, she has proposed several solutions for improving the transparency of systematic reviews and has established an Independent Advisory Group to provide oversight and accountability.

Managing data ethics during COVID-19 via The Open Data Institute

Besides disrupting entire healthcare systems and overturning the infrastructure for scientific publications, the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for the ethical and effective management of data, particularly in terms of contact tracing and immunity passports. To help provide a standardized framework for managing data in an ethical manner, the Open Data Institute has developed the Data Ethics Canvas tool, which encourages users to optimize the collection, usage and sharing of their data through a four-step guide: (1) know the data; (2) explore the impacts; (3) plan engagement; and (4) integrate ethical practices.

Beck et al. 2020: recommendations for preprints via OSF Preprints

Following January’s #BioPreprints2020 meeting hosted by ASAPbio, the European Bioinformatics Institute and Ithaka S+R, this summary presents a series of recommendations and best practices for preprint servers, peer review services and journals to build trust in the preprint process, with a focus on metadata.

Continued citations to journals discontinued from Scopus via The Publication Plan

A recent study of citation metrics has found that many journals that have been discontinued from the Scopus bibliometric database for quality concerns continue to be cited in new articles. Citation rates were also often shown to be higher following discontinuation. Of particular concern, more than three-quarters of the 317 discontinued journals analysed in the study overlapped with Cabell’s list or Beall’s list of predatory journals.

You used to call me on my CellPhoneDB via Wellcome Open Research

CellPhoneDB is an online database of cellular ligands and receptors and their interactions. The publicly available repository, developed by Roser Vento-Tormo (Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute), is a compelling example of the importance of data sharing and collaboration; the cell atlas garners more than 500 users per month and has recently been used to identify several cellular interactions and entry pathways of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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