Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Looking at the importance of an optimistic narrative for science, what’s new in peer review, and how much value is really added by journals.

The importance of optimism: science isn’t broken, it’s constantly improving via PNAS

This essay looks at three narratives frequently used when discussing science: the pursuit of human betterment, the quest to weed out misinformation and dishonourable research, and the broken system. The piece argues that final narrative gets more credence than it perhaps should – overemphasizing the problems and, in doing so, fuelling pseudoscientific myths about topics such as vaccinations and climate change. It suggests the truth to be a mix of the first two narratives, and urges a course correction to help maintain science as a respected force for public good, in which the noble are successful and the dishonourable are found out.

What is the word count of the average peer review?  via Publons

So we know the general feeling that peer review ‘takes too long’, but this blog post, commissioned to celebrate the milestone 300 000th reviewer on Publons, takes a look at how long the average review report is. It breaks down the data from the site, looking at variation by country, subject and impact factor. The article is hopeful, predicting that peer reviews are set to grow in length and quality as open peer review becomes more common.

bioRxiv to allow direct submission of preprints to F1000Research via the F1000Research blog

It was announced this week that bioRxiv is set to integrate with F1000Research, allowing direct submission from the preprint server to the publication platform. In this blog, Liz Allen explains the reasoning behind the implementation of this new route to publication.

What do journals add to the research papers they publish? via Techdirt

According to this article, the answer to the question above is “almost nothing”. The piece looks at a recently published study (behind a paywall, but preprinted in 2016) that analysed 12 000 preprinted articles and their corresponding published pieces with the object of quantifying the value added by journals. The study found that there were very rarely any significant differences between the submitted and the published version, and that the preprinted articles were free to read and tended to be published much more quickly. The study has limitations – it focused primarily on maths, physics and computer science publications, and the criteria do not include changes made in the references section (for a review of its flaws see this post from the Scholarly Kitchen). However, it still raises an interesting question: how can publishers remain relevant if their current services add little to what is already freely available, while building up cost and extending the publishing process?

What’s new in peer review? via The MAP

Peer review is widely regarded to be one of the cornerstones of the scientific process, but how can it be adapted to keep up with the ongoing changes in academic publishing? This article provides a summary of the various innovations and variations in peer review models today.

Open access is the future of publishing via Research information

In a recent survey by Springer Nature, 91% of librarians and over 70% of the total survey group agreed that “open access is the future of academic and scientific publishing”. These percentages are higher than those obtained in the same survey conducted in 2017. The results are promising and hint that a tipping point has been reached in the fight for open access.