Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the natural selection of bad science, a new lease of life for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, and the growing number of countries standing up to Elsevier.

The natural selection of bad science via The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

This article uses the unfortunate example of the eminent Professor Brian Wansink and his lab at Cornell University, who has been found responsible for numerous instances of bad research practice. The author points out that, although not so egregious as other more infamous examples of research misconduct, the Wansink example paints a bleak picture of today’s research environment: one in which the aim of many is “not the advancement of understanding, but the production of publications.” It is argued that the drive for novelty over quality in prestigious journals rewards these instances of bad practice over more reliable research.

It’s time to change how we judge research  via Nature

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, known as DORA, has this week been pledged support by a number of high-profile research funders and publishers. The declaration lays out a vision of a world in which the perceived value of research is based on the inherent quality of its content rather than the impact factor of the journal it is published in. This article outlines the history of DORA, the triumphs and pitfalls, and ultimately calls for its increased use as a tool to improve research evaluation.

PLOS to integrate preprinting into new article submissions  via PLOS Blogs

This week, PLOS and Cold Spring Harbor announced that they will be teaming up to enable the automatic posting of research articles submitted to PLOS Journals onto the preprint server bioRxiv. The move, which aims to accelerate the dissemination of research and broaden the scope for review and improvement by others in the field, provides a massive boost to the credibility of preprints in biomedicine.

Journals of the future: curators not distributors via LSE blogs

In the face of the technology revolution, the explosion in the number of research outputs being generated and the stifling inefficiency of traditional academic journals many have been left questioning whether academic journals have a future. This blog suggests that the answer to this question is ‘yes’, but as curators of content, rather than as gatekeepers and distributors of research outputs.

Open access in Algeria via ScienceOpen

Although the open science discussion frequently focuses on the trials and tribulations of researchers in Europe and the USA, the potential benefits of open science can extend far wider. This interview with Samir Hachani, an Algerian researcher explores his experience of the open science movement at Algiers University and the benefits it brings to him and his colleagues.

Preprint: Getting data from scholarly figures – are vector images the solution? via arXiv

This preprint addresses the difficulty and inaccuracy of manually extracting data from academic articles for re-analysis. The authors explore the feasibility of using the metadata from vector images as a means of extracting data more efficiently, and their findings are promising. Current provision of vector images is sparse in academic literature, and the preprint ends with a call for journals to increase their provision of vector-based data figures.

Is it time for more countries to “play hardball” with publishers? via Times Higher Education

Project DEAL is a coalition of German universities that refused to pay the subscription fees of Elsevier journals, infuriated by their spiralling prices and resistance to innovations such as open access. In light of their recent victory against Elsevier, this article asks whether it is time that more countries, or groups of institutions more generally, follow suit. It is undeniable that the universities involved have come out of the deal well: after Elsevier baulked at cutting off access to their academic journals, the universities involved made savings of €10 million in 2017, a figure that is likely to rise even higher in 2018, all while retaining full access to Elsevier journals.