Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the potential of preprints to help quell disease outbreaks, the integration of Europe PMC with Unpaywall and a look at the Initiative for Open Citations 1 year on.

Can preprinting be used to fight emerging epidemics? via PLOS Medicine

This review article argues that preprinting could drastically speed up the research process and, in doing so, could improve health outcomes in the context of disease outbreaks. The essay focuses on the fact that, for the majority of novel research and data publications on the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks, peer-reviewed versions are published at least 3 months after their corresponding preprints. Both journals and funders encourage the posting of preprints in order to speed up scientific exchange, but the authors of the article found that in spite of this, fewer than 5% of research papers on Ebola and Zika published during the outbreaks were preprinted.

Agreement reached between publishers and Dutch universities via The Scientist

There have been many stories of clashes between universities and publishers in the last year, with large numbers of German and French universities reaching standoffs with publishers Elsevier and Springer, respectively. This story of a successful deal thus provides hope that a consensus can be reached. The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has made a number of 100% open access deals with several large publishers since 2014. These negotiations have not always been easy but show promise for meeting the 2020 open access target set by the EU.

Europe PMC to integrate with Unpaywall via Europe PMC

Europe PMC has now become integrated with Unpaywall, thereby improving access to the 33 million records held on the website. Users of Europe PMC will now see an ‘Unpaywall button’ on the abstract page of a record, which will enable users to access free versions of paywalled articles, even if they do not have the Unpaywall web extension installed. It is estimated that 2.7 million research papers that were previously behind a paywall will become available to users.

The Initiative for Open Citations 1 year on via Boing Boing

Since its creation in 2016, the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) has lobbied for open citations with remarkable success – the number of publicly available citations has risen from just 1% before the initiative’s founding, to over 50% 1 year on from its official launch in 2017. The Initiative has been well received and acted upon by several large publishers, such as SAGE Publications, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. Indeed, all but five of the world’s largest publishers have now made their citation data open. One year on from it’s official launch, I4OC has achieved a lot, but also has a long way to go before reaching its goal of making all citation data publicly available.