Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Akhil Bansal

This week, we highlight individual researchers and journals working to improve the accessibility and transparency of open access publishing. We also touch on a project that aims to improve preprint infrastructure and the role that open and collaborative science might play in improving reproducibility in science.

Fighting prejudice in scientific publishing: the story of Scientific African via NPR | 7-minute read

This article focuses on the prejudice that scientists from poorer countries often face when trying to publish their research and describes the origins of Scientific African, a journal launched in 2018 that aims to provide a prejudice-free platform for research from Africa. The journal is free to read online and researchers pay a small fee for publishing articles. In 2020, Scientific African won the Professional and Scholarly Excellence Award from the Association of American Publishers for Best New Journal in Science, Technology and Medicine.

Inclusion and transparency in global research via PLOS Blogs | 4-minute read

This week, PLOS launched a new policy to improve the reporting of global research. Authors publishing research in PLOS journals that was conducted in countries or communities other than their own will be asked to complete a questionnaire that outlines ethical, cultural and scientific considerations specific to inclusivity in global research. To improve transparency, the information collected in these questionnaires will be made available to editors and reviewers and will also be included as a supporting information file with the published paper.

Navigating open access publishing via Dementia Researcher | 7-minute listen or 4-minute read

NHS speech and language therapist and researcher Dr Anna Volkmer outlines the importance of open access publishing in driving clinical improvement and optimizing patient-centred care. However, she also describes the difficulties of open access publishing, especially with regards to the cost and the variable funding provisions within the public health system.

Improving preprint infrastructure via Review Commons | 6-minute read

EMBO, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, eLife/Sciety and the Knowledge Futures Group have recently launched a collaborative pilot project called DocMaps, which aims to create a common framework that will allow the machine-readable tracking of peer reviews of individual preprints. The project could significantly improve existing preprint infrastructure, allowing users to follow the evaluation process over time and helping move away from monopolies in publishing by installing an open-source infrastructure that is managed by the academic community.

Reproducibility in science via London Review of Books | 8-minute read

This article is a review of Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype in Science, a book by Stuart Ritchie that explores the debate around reproducibility in scientific research. The book describes the origins of the reproducibility crisis, some of the main contributors to lack of reproducibility, and posits the importance of rapid, open and collaborative science initiatives and an increase in permanent jobs in publicly funded research as instrumental steps to tackle the crisis.

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