Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Harry Freeman

Featuring the impact COVID-19 could have on evidence-based medicine, the use of open science and the economic landscape of publishing, the results of a survey on attitudes towards preprints, the first COVID-19 preprint index, the importance of open data to patients and a call for the revision of academic career progression.

Evidence-based practice versus practice-based evidence: Trisha Greenhalgh weighs in via PLOS Medicine

While the ‘new normal’ sweeps through our everyday lives, evidence-based medicine (EBM) champion Trisha Greenhalgh (Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford) posits that changes may need to be made to the way the scientific community conducts research and practises medicine. The flagship development of the 20th century for scientific research was the universal adherence to a strict methodological philosophy that prioritized certainty, causality and rigour. Trisha argues that, alongside EBM, accommodation of a less restrictive paradigm that identifies de facto improvements in patient health while not being limited by whether individual interventions are statistically significant is imperative to tackling COVID-19. Only time will tell which is the most appropriate response to the global pandemic and how COVID-19 will alter the landscape of EBM.

The economic barriers to open access science via The Scholarly Kitchen

Over the past few years, there has been pressure on both academia and pharma to publish their findings open access. The current pandemic has illuminated the benefits of publicly available science. However, David Crotty (Editorial Director, Journals Policy at Oxford University Press) warns that although COVID-19 provides the evidence to support open publishing, it will also leave us in an economic landscape that may make open access journals unfeasible, with major universities projecting falls in revenue, research societies lacking income from annual meetings and a global recession on the horizon.

Results from a preprint survey revealed via ASAPbio

This week ASAPbio presented the results of a survey that aimed to capture the scientific community’s perspectives on preprints. The most common reservation regarding preprints was the potential for premature media attention, followed by an uncertainty surrounding the public release of data before peer review. True to open science, ASAPbio provide their raw data here.

Open science for COVID-19: universal reach of university research via Inside Higher Ed

In an opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, Janet Napolitano (20th President of the University of California and a former United States Secretary of Homeland Security) adds to the growing pressure on universities to make their research public. Janet outlines how publicly funded research should be in the public domain, a sentiment echoed in the halls of the White House, and she urges academia and publishers to take heed of the fast-paced scientific advancements during COVID-19, possible as a result of open science.

Global data sharing – a patient’s perspective via the World Economic Forum

This week, Brad Power (Founder of Reengineering Cancer Treatment) explores why patients need access to global health data through his own experiences with cancer. Brad highlights that, although each patient’s treatment is something of a personalized ‘experiment’, a system that details the logic and results of these ‘experiments’ would allow patients and their physicians to decide on the best course of action.

The first COVID-19 preprint index via Europe PMC

In the absence of a single repository, preprints on COVID-19 have been published on many different servers with a variety of formats, therefore preventing a large-scale analysis of these articles. With support from the Wellcome Trust, Europe PMC (the literature archive of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute) has taken on the gargantuan task of indexing all of the COVID-19 preprints to provide a rich and thorough reading experience.

Rethinking grant proposals and academic promotions via Nature

As many who have questioned a life in academia know, ascension through the ranks requires consistent grant approvals and high impact publications. Not only can this drive people away from academia, but it presents a barrier to ensuring research is published in open access journals because a high journal impact factor is prioritized. This week, an article in Nature features Science Europe, a group of European funding agencies and research councils who are calling for organizations to look beyond publication records and previous grants when evaluating a researchers’ proposal. Science Europe aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of academic career progression by pushing an alternative assessment of researchers’ grant proposals. More information can be found on their website.

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