Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Harry Freeman

Featuring discussions about patient partnerships in research, the curious case of MDPI, rapid reviews of COVID-19 preprints, metrics of open access papers, recognition for research contributors, the implementation of new editorial procedures and a publisher’s steps towards open access.

Gill and Cartwright, 2020: patient partnerships in evidence-based medicine via the BMJ

In an article published in the BMJ, Peter Gill (Paediatric Resident at The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto) and Emma Cartwright (Patient Editor at the BMJ) explore the perceived challenges with patient partnership, including identifying interested patients, training and payment. The authors provide an overview of the available economic and educational resources to help to tackle patient partnership issues, including EBMLive – a platform that brings patients, researchers and clinicians together.

From predatory to progressive – the tale of MDPI via The Scholarly Kitchen

Following a lively discussion on Twitter, Christos Petrou (Founder and Chief Analyst at Scholarly Intelligence) put pen to paper to explore the chequered past and the brighter future of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). Rising from the ashes of being labelled a predatory publisher, MDPI has recently become the world’s fifth largest publisher; in fact, it is now the largest of all open access publishers! Christos attributes the growth of MDPI to an increased number of article citations across its journals, improved brand reputation and the increased uptake of open access. He also gives a detailed analysis of MDPI’s strategic model – one that he believes other publishers may start to adopt.

Rapid reviews versus fake news via MIT Press

Although preprints provide a means for the open discussion of scientific findings, there is also a small chance that they could result in the spread of misinformation. This week, to combat this potential threat, open access journal Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 has begun to post open peer reviews of COVID-19 preprints. Despite barely scratching the surface of the thousands of available preprints, the use of COVIDScholar’s artificial intelligence has enabled the team to identify key preprints to ensure that the most significant papers are peer-reviewed first.

Nishioka and Färber, 2020: citations and Altmetrics of different open access types via Association for Computing Machinery

To explore how open access can benefit authors by furthering information dissemination, Chifumi Nishioka (Assistant Professor at Kyoto University) and Michael Färber (Postdoctoral Researcher at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) analysed the citation count and Altmetrics of over 7 million articles. Not only did they highlight the clear advantage of publishing open access, but they also identified trends suggesting that open access status can be influential. For example, green open access articles (articles that are placed in an open repository after publication) receive more citations than other types of article (open access or paywalled), while bronze open access articles (articles that are free to read on the publisher’s website without an open licence) receive the most media attention.

Recognizing the unsung heroes of research via The Scholarly Kitchen

This week in the Scholarly Kitchen, Alice Meadows (Director of Community Engagement at National Information Standards Organization) explores the increasing appreciation of contributorship. Despite an almost universal fixation on citations, Alice describes two initiatives that aim to increase the recognition of the contributions made by other people who enable publication, beyond an article’s authors. Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) distils contributions into 14 distinct roles, and ORCID’s service and membership affiliation allows researchers to be acknowledged for any voluntary work that they undertake to enable the publication of research. In her call to action, Alice pleads with readers to adopt CRediT and ORCID to end unrecognized contributions.

Horbach and Halffman, 2020: Implementation of innovation in publishing via BioMed Central

The development of new procedures and technologies can help to facilitate a robust peer-review process. With this in mind, Serge Horbach (Researcher at Radboud University) and Willem Halffman (Associate Professor at Radboud University) explored whether these new procedures have been adopted by editorial teams and, if not, why this hasn’t happened. Through field visits and interviews, the authors concluded that innovation implementation is restricted by the prioritization by a publisher of commercial practises. They found that small, independent journals were more likely to have the freedom to enact these new procedures.

Pushing forward with progressive publishing – a publisher’s perspective via The Publication Plan

Amid a growing need for transparency, speed and openness in publishing, Taylor & Francis (T&F) describes, in a recent sponsored article, the steps that it has taken to keep up with progressive publishing standards. Among the many initiatives outlined in the article, T&F describes both the introduction of open access options to established journals and the acquisition of open access publishers (Dove Medical Press). Hopefully, the undeniable evolution of open science will lead to other major publishers taking similar leaps in the right direction.

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention