Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Caitlin Edgell

This week, we explore the importance of data sharing in COVID-19, Alzheimer’s disease and social psychology research. We also look at trends in open access publishing across the globe and focus on open access initiatives in Africa. Finally, we learn the ideal frequency for the word ‘and’.

Data sharing in the COVID-19 era via LSE Impact Blog | 6-minute read

Many of us have probably spent a lot of time this year looking at various online trackers as they quietly tally up the number of COVID-19 infections around the world. But, apart from becoming a new national pastime, how much value is there in these aggregated case counts we have become so familiar with? This article makes the case for a globally harmonized approach to recording COVID-19 infections that would account for not only the country but also the age, sex, symptoms and even travel history of infected individuals. Naturally, the article also suggests that this data should be made freely available to all interested parties to promote international collaboration against a virus that doesn’t respect national borders.

Bill Gates loves puzzles (and data sharing) via GatesNotes | 5-minute read

Bill Gates has announced the launch of a new online platform for sharing research data on Alzheimer’s disease. After 18 months in development, the Alzheimer’s Disease Workbench has been made available to researchers across the globe. The workbench, developed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative, brings together data, code and knowledge in a single database, allowing Alzheimer’s disease researchers to finally see all the puzzle pieces at once.

Data transparency now required for publication via The Journal of Social Psychology | 6-minute read

The Journal of Social Psychology has announced that authors wishing to publish with them will be required to make their data freely available. After 7 years of consideration, the journal’s editorial board finally feels that the time is right to make this change. This decision represents another step towards full transparency for the journal, which already requires authors to share their study materials, including questionnaires, surveys and interview scripts. The new policy will come into effect in January 2021.

Global trends in open access via The Naked Scientist | 6-minute listen

In this interview, researcher Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang discusses a recent paper published in eLife. Chun-Kai presents trends found in the proportion of research published open access from over 1000 universities. As may be expected, the amount of research published open access has increased substantially in recent years. There was also global variation, with Latin America exceeding Europe and North America in terms of proportion of research published open access. Chun-Kai credits these trends in open access publications to funding policies and other initiatives such as the SciELO Project in Latin America.

Open access puts African research in the spotlight via Beyond the Book | 22-minute listen

Joy Owango is the Co-Founding Non-Executive Director of the Training Centre in Communication, an African-based training centre that teaches effective communication skills to scientists and sits on the board of AfricArXiv, the pan-African scholarly publication repository. In this recording of a recent STM Online Conference presentation, Joy discusses open access in Africa. The talk explores how open access allows African researchers to take greater ownership of their work and highlights the importance of open access in raising the profile of African research and promoting equitable knowledge exchange between the Global North and the Global South.

“Good communication is as challenging as physical fitness” via The Publication Plan | 12-minute read

Scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson explains the fundamentals of good science communication. In this interview with The Publication Plan, Randy discusses the importance of taking time to “find the narrative”, how science communicators must undergo practice and conditioning to maintain their skills (like athletes), and the ideal frequency of the word ‘and’ in a well-edited text (you’ll have to read the article for the answer!).

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we at Open Pharma would like to encourage all our readers to look after themselves and their community and to continue to follow advice from their country’s government and health organizations.

Coronavirus mental health and well-being resources:

Mind UK

Mental Health Foundation UK

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention